Recently I watched the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’ by Woody Allen. Its a story about a struggling writer Gil, who visits Paris with his rich fiancé and her parents. Basically he’s in love with the City of Love with its rich history and art. He yearns to live in the past, the 1920s to be exact, when his favorite writers and artists lived. One night while he’s drunkenly walking home , a mysterious Rolls Royce pulls up and the passengers urge him to join them. After going with them to a bar he realizes he’s been magically transported to the 1920s. He gets to meet and hang around with famous writers and artists like Ernest Hemingway, Salvadore Dali, Pablo Picasso and Picasso’s lover Adriana.
Gil falls in love with Adriana and he keeps visiting the past every midnight to be with her. He loves the era that he’s transported to every night and decides to propose to Adriana. He’s about to do that when a car pulls over and gives them a lift and both of them are now transported to the 1890s Belle Époque, an era Adriana considers Paris’s Golden Age. There they meet more famous writers who tell them that their idea of a Golden Age would be the Renaissance.
Gil finally realizes that no matter which age people live in they will always have nostalgia for the past. We all yearn for better times, times in the past when things were simpler. He concludes that its better to live in the present and make the most of what we have NOW and what we can achieve in the time we have.
Almost everybody I know talk about the Good Old Days. The good old days when times were simpler, the streets were cleaner. There was less crime, people were happier. Goods were cheaper, people had better manners.
To make it brutally scientific, it might be all in our minds. In order to keep u sane and functioning it tries to reduce the impact of bad memories. Those memories are sidelined and only the good, happy memories are magnified. Over time we remember the past as just a collection of mostly happy memories. We compare this to the present and then we conclude that things were much better in the past.
For me its just a matter of perspective. Let’s take an example from my life. When I was a kid one of my sisters gave me a book on Yoga. Having almost no friends and a serious lack of entertainment at home i used to devour books. I read the book from cover to cover. it described different techniques on meditation and the postures involved. In the latter chapters it detailed incidents from the lives of famous Yogis. It concluded with a chapter about Transcendental Meditation (TM) which was an exciting new technique used to mimic brain waves of experienced Yogis. Using this method even normal people can quickly achieve the mental states that took Yogis decades of meditation to achieve.
I was really curious about this TM thing. I wanted to know more about it. AND? Yes when I was a kid, Maldives did not have internet. I waited till the weekend till i didn’t have school. i walked to the National Library. i searched a shelf full of books. I finally found a book about Zen meditation. Close, but not really what i wanted
So consider this. It took me ONE WEEK to find something that was KINDA close to what I wanted.
Now whatever I want, whenever I want I just Google it.
area 51? Google it
Latest movie? Google it
Who did what, when where? Just Google it.
All this power within seconds. So which generation, which decade is better really? (with this much information easily available , one would think everyone would be really smart, but that’s another story).
Its all really not that one sided. When I was a kid I had really limited books to read. Therefore I had no choice but to FINISH those books. Sometimes even read them again, lingering over the favorite parts. I finished all the good books on my shelf. Finally only old Agatha Christie novels, the History of Shells and a book called Famous actors of the Beijing Opera were left. I read those too. I was finally left with reading the dictionary before sleeping. The point is I finished those books. NOW i have hundreds of books on my computer. Maybe even a thousand. I’ve skimmed some. I have never finished even one. I’m better at collecting things and running from one ‘Ooo shiny thing’ to the next. I can hardly watch a movie till the end preferring to skim through it. An episode from a series 20 minutes long is the best me and my friends can do. We keep moving from one thing to another at break neck speed. We have information overload. We know too much. From international news to videos of celebrities walking their dog.
The internet has become part of us, an extension of our SELF. We are not just our mind and body. we are also our Facebook page and MSN. Its just as much a part of us as our eyes , hands and feet. It completes us. Take those away and we change to a blubbering mass of protoplasm.
This time, this decade will be the golden age of the adults of tomorrow. We might find it annoying but these are the best days of another generations lives.
So in conclusion, it doesn’t matter when you were born or how bad things are now, (cliché saying alert :s) the Golden age is always the present moment