Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Reflecting on "america"

I was born in late 1962. So in 1969 I was 6-7 impressionable years old. Living in America. A little white house in a small town in the Midwest. Some of my most vivid memories are playing outside with the neighborhood kids, listening to WLS on a transister radio, seeing images of the Vietnam war, hippies, protests and... when I finally saw the movie Easy Rider several years later... I think THAT is what my idealistic young mind captured as what life in America was all about. That's what I wanted to be when I grew up.

If you have not seen the movie, well, you must. Not that it's a cinematic masterpiece or even because I necessarily buy the underlying message, but it's an iconic collision of the 'American Dream' not so far from where we find ourselves today (imho).

It's only natural then that my worldview seems slanted from those who didn't grow up in my era, or my area. But these are my reflections, and I see in them that things haven't changed all that much from my youth.

I make no bones about my disgust for the current president of this country. However, when I talk to people more knowledgable than me about American history, I am comforted by the fact that we're not really walking down a path unknown. "America" (meaning the USA) has had crazy presidents before. If we survive this one, we will very likely have crazy ones again.

Which leaves me with one of the closing scenes near the end of Easy Rider. They've ridden across America on their motorcycles. They've cashed in their drugs for money. Sitting around a campfire is this exchange between Billy (Dennis Hopper) and Captian America (Peter Fonda):
Billy: "We did it, man. We did it, we did it. We're rich, man. We're retirin' in Florida now, mister."
Captain America: "You know Billy, we blew it."

 We blew it. Do you suppose that's why I'm such a pessimistic old man? I think people have been "blowing it" ever since. We go through life with this grand carrot in mind, and somewhere along the line get so wrapped up in the details, and then resign ourselves to... this is it/we blew it.

So is it the carrot that's wrong? Our idea of it that's misguided? A lack of focus, or too much focus? I do not know. But I, like Captain America and Billy, set out to find America, and I'm not sure I have (or ever will). I guess the question that remains to be answered is... have I "blown it" yet?


So last night the wife and I set up our tent in the backyard (still in Midwest America). It was around 8 o'clock she suggested it. It wasn't supposed to rain (even though it did all night long), and we haven't slept outside in a long time. It has been a tradition of ours to sleep outside at least once a year. Usually it is spur-of-the-moment. Nice nights will often result in one of us saying, "It's a good night to sleep outside," even if we don't. So last night we did.

The rain pelting the nylon was relaxing. It also helped that we drug the twin mattresses outside and lay on them. I slept well. In my opinion things like this are our way of giving the middle finger to those who want to destroy our "America." Or, perhaps it just shows the bias I developed as an 'Easy Rider' youth. I don't know...

So what does all this mean? Probably nothing. Not a darn thing. It just is, man...