Golden Age Thinker
As I thought about what I would say, my mind kept repeating my newest favorite movie quote from “Midnight In Paris.” I relate to Gil, the main character. He is a dreamer, a writer, who feels he was born at the wrong time. He longs for the Paris glory days, where ex-patriots, Hemingway, Stein and Fitzgerald roamed. Those around him are shallow, ignorant, and worst of all hold Gil in contempt for his longing for more from life, more than being a hack Hollywood screenwriter. Paul, the overbearing obnoxious professor character, says, “Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.” Gil replies, “That’s what the present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.” Thank you, Woody Allen.
I, too, find myself in the same predicament as Gil, longing for another era, another time where life was slower, with less bombardment of wasteful and useless information. A time that was more gentile and perchance gentler. That’s the idealist in me, wanting to believe that it is true. Then, realism awakens me from my beautiful daydream with the harsh reality that every age had unique problems and more than its share of wars and upheavals. Would life be any better if I could live in my fantasy? Probably not, my shrink would say; more meds for Anabelle. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, I am sure most of us are “golden age” thinkers.
Writer’s imaginations are free to enjoy mental time travel. That is how stories are written. Writers use moments of time to construct a story, a snippet of an overheard conversation or they draw from their own personal history. Why stories are written is to transport a reader from their mundane work a day worlds and carry them off into the distant past, to share our dreams of the far away future, or allow them to stay at home in the cozy present. We hold those experiences together by the words we use all the while formulating a magic trick for the reader.
During my musings, my thoughts turned to the abundance of overused time clichés. I could not resist the exercise of jotting them down, as they popped one by one into my head: “remember that time,” “just killing time,” “time heals all wounds,” “time will tell,” “time marches on,” “a time to reap, a time to sow,” “a time to kill,” “the time of my life,” “in the nick of time,” “time on my hands,” “time is on my side,” and “I have all the time in the world.” Time is endless, also seemingly the clichés that surround it. I got stuck on, “I have all the time in the world.” I wondered, do I? It certainly does not feel that way. As I get older, time flies by, (cliché intended), and I cannot seem to stop it, time that is. There are things I want to do, namely travel and write a novel. Will I get to accomplish those dreams? It scares me to think I won’t. Instead, I will spend my ensuing years, sitting chained behind a law firm desk the rest of my life doing what society; my family and friends expect…work at a respectable job. Which entails schlepping files, running up and down hallways fetching motions and briefs for a 30-year-old chirpy attorney. I am exhausted. There is no joy in it, no satisfaction. Hell, I am 50 years old. What am I waiting for? Today, I feel like saying, as did Peter Finch in the movie, “Network,” “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” My rant today is, “screw it all, go for broke, follow my heart, move to Paris, rent a tiny garret and write. I want my life, not someone else’s. I’m too old for this shit. It is not enough that I merely go through the motions of living. Life must be well lived, full of truth, meaning, purpose and beauty.
I would like to write in the tradition of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Wilde and Faulkner, of course without the suicide, alcoholism, prison time or creepiness. Their voices were independent, strong and each differed in tone; however, all of them marvelously captured their era. They told incredible stories, sweeping us up into their settings and their language. Oh, the gorgeous language. I envy Hemingway’s concision, Fitzgerald’s metaphors, Wilde’s marvelous quips and Faulkner’s detail for minutia. And how does Faulkner construct those lengthy sentences? Practice.
Today, I fear my voice is rather bombastic—even hostile, perhaps shrill. “It is what it is,” as they say. What a terrible catchphrase. Apologies to my reader for using it, how lazy of me. I have succumbed to “gloom, despair and agony on me/ Deep, dark depression, excessive misery/ If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,” you realize I am reduced to quoting song lyrics and song lyrics from Hee-Haw no less. Oy vey! Obviously, I am in a nasty mood, as I write this. Time is pissing me off. It’s been after my ass for years now, whispering, “Anabelle…you’re running out of time…Anabelle, better hurry up.” All right already, I refuse to give in to the time monster. I will do everything I set out to achieve.
In fact, time did not cheat me out of rebuilding my life, obtaining a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and who knows what else waits at that next fork in the road. I may not be the next best greatest thing, but as so many times before, (no pun intended), I go for it. Mind you, I am not packing my bag or rushing out for a beret; however, I do have a passport. Take that time!