As the calendar year draws to a close it’s a time many reminisce about the past year and years past. I’ve found myself doing the same. In fact I seem lately to be spending more and more time thinking about the way things are, how they got that way and how things might have been different under different circumstances.
Partly this stems from my writer’s mentality. I think about most things creatively, whether I’m rethinking my own past in terms of character development or considering historical events in the context of world-building another. And partly, like everyone else, this stems from my own feelings of regret.
This holiday season my family and I went to see The Muppet Christmas Carol at the Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, IN. Stepping into that theatre is like stepping back into the past. Built in 1922, The Historic Artcraft is a fully restored “old-fashioned” movie theatre complete with red velvet curtains and the classic red-letter marquee out front. For the 120 minutes or so you’re there, listening to the sounds of the film reels spinning in the projector booth, you can shrug off the concerns of the 21st century and experience a bit of what the world was like 80+ years ago – the good bits.
I have a deep appreciation for “classic” things (classic to me, anyway). I like old books, old movies (thanks to my wife’s good taste), and even old tools. In fact, a number of years ago with our first home I resolutely purchased a reel mower (that’s R-E-E-L as in it only cuts when you push it) and proudly used it to mow my postage-stamp-sized yard despite many askance glances from my neighbors. There’s much to be said for those things which came before us. Incidentally, even Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol (the story the Muppet version we saw was based on in case you didn’t already know!) itself originated as Dickens’ own The Story of the Goblins who stole a Sexton. Take a few minutes to read it and you’ll likely find a greater appreciation for the story you thought you knew, but will know even better once you understand where it came from.
The same is true for us. The more we know about where we came from the better we understand ourselves. And there is always more to learn!
So as I look back over the past year (regrets and all) and consider how much things have changed, it’s comforting to remember I can always choose to keep with me the bits of the past I treasure the most – the good bits. As for the rest, instead of nursing my regrets, I need simply to learn from them and let them go.
I want also to offer a sincere Thank you! to those who strive to ensure the past stays alive for the rest of us. Whether it’s through the work of organizations like Franklin Heritage, Inc., who helped preserve the Historic Artcraft (ironically enough which you can follow on Twitter), or simply the members or our extended families we visit during the holidays, chatting over old photo albums (the ones with REAL printed photographs; faded, yellowed, torn edges and the like.), telling and retelling the stories that go along with them, keeping the past alive.
Change is inevitable, but if we try, some things need never change, at least not entirely. And I for one hope “the good bits” never will.