July 15, 2011


“He comes to easin’ round the coner…” That was always one of my great aunt’s lines that I loved to hear when she was telling a story from her childhood. I remember asking my father what a “coner” was… He looked at me like I was stupid and said, “Corner, boy… corner..”

That was the way of it. I loved to listen to people tell stories. I sat at the feet of many older relatives and listened to them spin yarns of the days when they were kids. I was thinking about this earlier and wondered why things like that don’t happen anymore. Where are the times of listening to older relatives? Hell, for that matter where are the times of sitting and talking for hours on end?

When was the last time you went to a genuine cookout? By cookout I mean one of those affairs that lasts all night, when kids run themselves into the ground playing games like hide and seek while the adults sit around and talk or play cards until the wee hours of the morning. You know what I mean… a table laden with food in the background that gets picked over for hours, free flowing coffee and sweet tea, and laughter, sweet, simple laughter. The sound of which is carried on the wind and you feel it’s still roaming around out there somewhere. A day when you drank from the garden hose and were burnt by the sun, but nobody cared or got upset because the spf 50 wasn’t applied in earnest the moment you got out of the car…

Do you remember when no one cared what anybody wore, or drove, or acted like? Everyone seems to be regulated now. Regulated by television or the internet. How many people do you know that have built a house in the last decade that absolutely had to have stainless steel appliances, or the right sort of tile in the kitchen? What about the huge flat screen television with the Nintendo wii so the parents could tell themselves that their children were playing video games that forced them to be active so they wouldn’t be couch potatoes? Stop and think for a moment about the reaction your grandmother would have if you told her that you pay over three dollars for a cup of coffee?

Where did it all go? What happened to it? Why do people not feel satisfied any more? That made me think of a pbs television program I watched a few years back named “frontier house”. the premise was to have a handful of families live in cabins as if it were the turn of the century and the competition was to see who could appropriately get ready for the oncoming winter, they were judged by historians who oversaw the amount of food and firewood they gathered during the Summer months. I was struck by an affluent family of four that were miserable during the entire contest. They complained nonstop about the living conditions and absence of modern day conveniences, as they were all crammed into a one room cabin. A mother, father and two teen daughters who had just built their dream home, a standard mcmansion. They spoke continuously about how they couldn’t wait for this to be over so they could get back to their new home, it was finished just as the program started and they hadn’t spent any time in it at all.

The mother cheated by smuggling in makeup and having her husband clandestinely move an old box spring from a junk pile into the cabin for more comfortable sleeping. The daughters were complaining nonstop about missing their cell phones and televisions. The father took it all in stride, yet he too defended their cheating, “If people back then had found a good box spring to put a mattress on they would’ve brought it home too!” The judges didn’t see things their way and scolded them pretty harshly for their actions. Yet when the competition was over and they made their way home to the new digs… they were miserable. I remember the interviews with them that took place a few months after filming had been completed. They were all in their own parts of the new home, the mother at the pool, one daughter at the grand piano, the other locked in her room on the laptop, the father in his man cave… They were sad. They missed each other. Living in the one room cabin had brought them closer as a family. The daily chores had taught them to work together to get things done, they had to rely on themselves because that’s all they had. In other words.. They were lonely. They had the world at their finger tips via technology, everyone had the latest greatest car to run around in, yet they simply missed being together… and did not know it. They couldn’t pin point why they were all so melancholy. One of the show’s advisors pointed it out to them and that evening they did something they hadn’t done since the filming came to an end. They sat down for dinner together and talked while they ate. They talked and laughed and before they knew it a couple of hours had passed.. That night they all slept in the living room of the new house and breakfast the next morning was ringing with talk and laughter as they made their plans for the Saturday they would spend together..

There is a label for everything now, every person falls into a category and is immediately judged by others and stereotyped to the point of shutting down all relative and real communication. We have become so cynical towards everything that we fail to see the truth of our lives. We have indeed fallen victim to life according to mass media…

Is there anyway way out of this?

1 comment:

boo said...

Yep. Go outside, light the grill, and enjoy your family. Lead by example, my friend, and shine.