Cockleburs of Memory

The Cockleburs of Memory pop up again:

A friend sent me an email today, quoting an Opinion from The Spectator, in which the writer was bemoaning that NYC is not what it was in his younger days. My response to her email was:

A blend of truth and I’m-getting-old-and-the-world-is-going-to-Hell-in-a-handcart, which they’ve found scratched on the walls in Pompeii.

I haven’t been in NYC in years – last time was for my ex-CEO’s retirement party. [I live 90 minutes away]. Even before that, Greenwich Village was so different from my day that it was depressing; all my favorite restaurants gone, a totally different ambiance.

From 1960-1969, I walked all over Manhattan and parts of downtown Brooklyn, almost every night and on weekends. From the Battery to Harlem, river to river, noting the new shops to browse, new restaurants to try, new neighborhoods to explore. The changes were gradual enough that I could keep up with them, but after several years absence, the difference is overwhelming. Perhaps it’s because I still think of it as NYC while I should look at it as if it were a city I’d never visited; go in without memories or expectations.

The truth is You Can’t Go Home Again because it’s not Home anymore except in your memory, and being enshrined in our memory does not keep the world from changing.

When you think about it, it’s rather arrogant of us to assume everything comes to a halt in our absence, that the rest of the world is just waiting to pick up where we left it. “Put your hand in a bucket of water. Take it out and note the size of the hole you leave.”

Churchill once remarked, “My tailor is the only sensible man I know. He takes my measure anew each time we meet”.
Perhaps we should do the same with all our past. Life Marches On. It didn’t start with us; it won’t end with us. Get over it.

But then, we wouldn’t feel justified in declaiming “Back in my day…..!” to the eternal amusement of the younger generation(s). 😀

2 Replies to “Cockleburs of Memory”

  1. steeleweed – your comments about it being arrogant to assume that everything comes to a halt in our absence reminds me of the story of Charles DeGaulle and indispensability. It seems that General DeGaulle wanted to visit the French troops on the front lines of one of the battlefields of WWII Europe. One of his aides evidently told him, “General DeGaulle, you cannot visit such a dangerous place -you are indispensable!” To which DeGaulle replied, “Sir, the graveyards of France are filled with indispensable people.”

  2. Back in my day…
    “…walked to school at 4 o’clock in the morning. Uphill. Both ways. Through 5 feet of snow. Killed a grizzly bear with my loose leaf notebook….” – Bill Cosby

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