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Nostalgia June 2018

A Contemplative Garden

By Noah LeVia

Many of us are repulsed by vulgarities in movies and television shows. However, we recall the shock of old folks when Rhett famously said to Scarlett, “I don’t give a damn,” while we impudently were spewing “fudge,” “flippin’,” and “darn” in our young cursing vocabularies. “Crap” was a biggie!

We each have favorite spots. They may be peaceful ponds in city parks, rose gardens in arboretums, or ocean beaches. One in central Florida is Bok Tower Gardens, described as “a contemplative garden” in its brochure. It is a meandering milieu of lush landscaping, brilliant flowers, Spanish moss-draped oaks, and open meadows centered around a carillon tower. Truly a contemplative garden, conversations are whispered as a mantle of stillness and serenity descends upon those who enter.

The Gardens share those qualities with other special spaces, contemplative gardens of reverie. As we age, they become more precious as our past hubbubs and hullabaloos dim to duller dins viewed through life’s reverse binoculars. Join me in such a contemplative garden where we may muse about our generation’s journeys.

Whatever, wherever this space is, it is our personal contemplative garden reserved for us, the aged. From its viewpoint we glimpse our evolution, for have we not evolved from who, what, and where we were to who, what, and where we are? Let us ponder our progressions and transformations. Although it may sound like a cow chewing her cud, let us ruminate awhile.

Many of us old folks are unfamiliar with current musical artists or their music, and many of us are appalled when we see and hear them. But we remember when old folks were aghast at Elvis, and we were repelled by Guy Lombardo. Do we now, as elders, not feel sad for young folks who never were treated to Perry Como’s “Catch A Falling Star,” Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore,” or Dinah Shore’s “Far Away Places?”

We cherish great past artists and songs, songs that grew into us as we grew and became part of our lives, the musical bedrocks of our generation. Today’s generation has its own music to become its cherished oldies, but, oh, what today’s generation has missed! How fortunate we were to experience those artists. What nostalgia and, yes, what strength “A Sentimental Journey” imparts to our souls. To paraphrase one of our generation’s famed performers, “How sweet it was!”

Many of us are repulsed by vulgarities in movies and television shows. However, we recall the shock of old folks when Rhett famously said to Scarlett, “I don’t give a damn,” while we impudently were spewing “fudge,” “flippin’,” and “darn” in our young cursing vocabularies. “Crap” was a biggie!

Many contemporary comedians lace their routines with all manner of obscenities and indecencies. Do we now, as elders, not lament that today’s generation never knew the gentle affability of Red Skelton, Ed Wynn, or the Smothers Brothers? We fondly remember Jimmy Durante’s “Inka Dinka Doo” and his bidding Mrs. Calabash goodnight. Wherever she was. They were positive forces, those early television titans! In our musings we recognize their dignity in bringing laughter to our younger selves and realize they imparted goodness and worthiness within us also. It is a poignant perception, bittersweet in its memory, of our passage from those days to these.

Many of us remember Selectric typewriters and the mimeograph morphing into floppy disks that antiquated Whit-Out and correction fluid. Now we type massive amounts of data into computers on our laps and carry the world’s combined knowledge in our pockets or purses. We recall teachers determinedly drilling printing penmanship and cursive scripting into our fingers.

Forsaken like hand-cranked rotary telephones, handwriting is no longer a skill as cursive composition cannot be recorded or read by many of today’s generation. Do we now, as elders, not bemoan their deficit, a deficiency fashioned from best intentions of preparation for the digital age? Yet the valuable skill of hand-eye-brain creative coordination or attraction of calligraphy cannot be found on keyboards. Thrills of mastering slants of lower-case “a,” numbers of humps in “n” or “m,” or closing towers of “t” and opening ones of “l” no longer are experienced.

Our generation’s personal identities were influenced by our personal handwriting. We identify with our individual penmanship because it is ours alone. Wobbly writing by aged, trembling hands, maybe, but our scripting nevertheless. Time-honored touchstones of individual identity have been replaced by keyboards and thumb-texting. How fortunate we have been for our handwriting to grow old with us!

How fortunate we are to have come this far and be able to pause in our contemplative garden to review how we got here. Those bygone bumps weren’t quite as high as we thought then, the road not quite as rocky. Pains have passed, but the joys? Oh, they last! The future? “The past is prologue,” so the saying goes. If so, we take solace in knowing dreaded mountains will be molehills, and apparent rugged roads will be smooth. We relax in our recliners and relish the peace in our contemplative gardens, grateful and reassured of who, what, and where we are right here, right now.

Those are my thoughts today.


Currently Noah and his wife Vashti live in Mesa, Arizona, where they continue to write their “Happily Ever After Story.” Noah also loves Marketing. He presently serves as Marketing Liaison for three local UPS stores.

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