Remembrance of things past

As I approach another Remembrance Day and pay silent respect to those young boys, many of whom died at an age where there adult lives amounted to a handful of years, I keep coming back to a phenomena in my life that I think is endemic in those over 50. Some of us yearn for the moments of our youth. Some of us wish to re-create the hopes, the friendships, the triumphs and the blessed simplicity of youth.

Perhaps this is not a yearning, but a vague feeling of pleasant recollection. Perhaps the recollection is not always pleasant, but in fact my past consisted of people who changed and inspired me. Many are still alive: married, not married, now openly gay, lost and found, sorrowful or bitter, self actualised and content. All human life, matured in oak and decanted for a snifter at sunset.

Facebook is a phenomenon that I have yet to come to terms with. I am not on it. And yet, out there on Facebook are people I have not seen for three decades or more. There are also those who seem to have disappeared of the face of the earth. Some people I know have re-unions with school chums. Good that they had them. And there, on these re-unions, the sum-total of their experiences can be shown against the grainy blurred school or college pics of people they once were.

What do we want from looking back? A renaissance? A rekindling of the spark? Or merely a fond remembrance of things past, set against the calm assurance of maturity. Or the quiet desperation.

Many of my readers can point to a time of their lives. A moment when life seemed vivid and unknown and challenging; a time when we were in the loop, part of the public narrative as well as the private one.

During my recent pilgrimage to Lincolnshire I encountered many reminders of The Battle of Britain. Those who survived to tell the tale never forgot that time of their lives. The re-unions were strong and well-attended, though there were those who were so horrified, so traumatised, that they sent their medals back and just wanted to forget.

The rest of us rarely experience that level of intensity but we did experience times when, looking back, our dreams were satisfied beyond belief. What I do not know is this: Do the relationships forged in the crucible of youthful joie de vivre have a chance of enduring into the later years in life, or are they best left as a fond remembrance of things past?

(That's me in the corner, far right)

And here is a photo montage I did a while back. Some of you may have missed it, but it seems germane.

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1 comment:

Richard said...

Relationships: in my experience, the ones forged in the crucible of ect ect are the only ones that last. The people I was friends (*really* friends) with in my teens and early 20s are the only ones I could call friends now. I make acquaintances easily, but new friends hardly at all. One guy I met by chance on the internet turned out to be my less-evil twin and we have formed a good friendship, but other than that, nothing. On the basis of what you said, if I left all those as a fond remembrance I would have nothing.

As for photographs of youthful years - every time I see myself in one of those, I have two thoughts:

1. I was better-looking then than I thought I was;

2. You poor bastard, you have absolutely *no idea* what's coming to you. Enjoy it while you can.