What? How can this be? With all the ups and downs of the stock market and political infighting and harsh weather and other calamities… How could these be the Good Old Days? Surely the Good Old Days are part of a bygone era. A time when soda pops were a nickel a piece and hopscotch was the main game played by young girls, and boys played baseball and football, and we all received a cup of hot tea and gathered round the RCA Victor big radio in the living room to listen to James Arness and Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke on Sunday evenings, before it was broadcast on television. Weren’t those the Good Old Days?
I remember when I was personally building my brother’s house in the backwoods of Kentucky in 1978-1980. There was a kindly elderly couple who lived about a mile down the road, Henry & Gertie Powell. They took pity on my miserable condition and allowed me to share lunch with them every once in a while, particularly during the harsh mid-western winters and I couldn’t feel the toes on my feet after working in sub-zero temperatures for about 4 hours.
One day, while enjoying some of Gertie’s hot boiled corn, mashed potatoes with gravy and homemade bread, I thought of something. I asked them: “You are both in your 80s. You have seen stagecoaches change into motorcars and become modern vehicles with air-conditioning and many safety features. You have seen the development of rockets and seen Man walk on the Moon. You have seen our country change from the “Old West” days to become modern cities with interstate highways with long bridges connecting nearly every place. So tell me: when were the Good Old Days?”
Both Henry & Gertie looked at me for a few seconds, and stopped chewing their food and laid down their pieces of buttered bread. They looked at each other for a few more seconds. Then they turned to me and Henry said: “Right now. These are the Good Old Days.” “Now?” I said? Henry and Gertie both nodded. “Yep,” said Henry. “We have good food to eat. We have good health and good doctors and good hospitals. We have good vehicles and a good home. We enjoy every day. We have a good life.”
I smiled back at them. They were right. And Carly Simon’s wonderful song by the same name says it all: “These are the Good Old Days.” You’d think that with all the problems our economy is having, that our government is having, that the World is having, that surely there must have been a Golden Age that was better. But when you ask people who are senior citizens, the answer we receive is that Now are the Good Old Days. We have a better standard of living than ever before, and medical science continues to solve problems that have eluded previous researchers. The Internet allows us to research just about anything online instantaneously, as if we had a thousand research librarians right in that magic box called a computer, sitting on our desks, right in our own home. Vehicles are safer than ever before and more comfortable and talk to you and give you directions to help you find your way. The quality of our homes continues to improve, consuming less energy, being healthier places in which to live. The average age of people in our country continues to grow older, meaning that people are living longer. Dentistry all but eliminates what once was a leading cause of death (bad teeth). And if we don’t get hit by a bus or other vehicle, don’t catch some life-threatening disease, and take some care with our diets, our quality of life and length of life should continue to expand.
Our country and every country has always had problems with their economies. Politicians have always infuriated the people who put them in office (and especially those who didn’t). It is just that we tend to forget previous hard times if we personally did not live through them. Yesterday the stock market fell by 500 points. My knee-jerk reaction was to counsel people to get out of the market and put your savings into CDs. Ultra-safe, next to hiding your dough under your mattress and stay home guarding it with a shotgun. However, I did a little online research and discovered that the leaders of the 13 largest banks from all over the World (courtesy of Bloomberg-Businessweek online) said that this is just a minor blip. These things happen. They continued to predict, with confidence, that the market will rally and that there will be a 17% stock market point increase by year’s end.
Right now, there is no World War. Thank God, Allah, Atman, Buddah and whatever deity in which you believe. While there are pockets of famine, atrocities and armed conflicts in various places, and personal tragedies (financially, medically and more) to be sure, things appear to be trying to center themselves, to arrive on an even keel at some point ahead. Perhaps this is the fact that the World is so connected these days, both electronically and economically, that we now have a dense interdependency with all other countries and all other people. We really are becoming One. That is a good thing. So, going to war with another country is sort of like a single person shooting at their own big toe with a pistol. Nothing good can come of that. We are too connected. We buy goods and services from each other and depend on each other for our livelihoods. We marry people from different countries and races. We are a melting pot. We have an investment in each other, emotionally, financially, and dare I say it: spiritually.
So, enjoy the good food we have today. Enjoy your vehicles. Enjoy your health, in part courtesy of advances in medical science. Enjoy the Internet and being connected with anyone else on the Planet, and being connected to the knowledge of the Planet (all of it that ever existed, as long as it has been digitized). Enjoy having an income and being able to afford to have a decent lifestyle. Enjoy your home, in part courtesy of evolving architectural practices. Enjoy your loved ones. Enjoy other people.
For truly, these are: The Good Old Days.