Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left you.
Paul Simon, "Bookends"
I think back to the simple lyrics above and it seems to me we’ll never be able to return to that time again. First of all, there appears to be no large quantity of innocence left in any corner of the world anymore. Oh, you might find a sliver of it here and there. You hear it in a baby’s cry or in the musical sound of trick-or-treaters at your door, but by and large everyone is wise to everything anymore. As little fingers manipulate keyboards before their feet try to walk, these days a search engine is always but a click away. Outstanding; everyone knows everything. Can you imagine the look on Abe Lincoln’s face (who was known to often tell a tall tale) if some senator in the back of the room said, “Scuse me Mr. President but that wasn’t Washington that said that it was Franklin. Says so right here in Wikipedia.”
And my grandfathers who wove tales of the Great Depression and hard times; what allure those stories would lose if not for the embellishments here and there. Embellishments that added impact to the story and made it ring in the ears of the young. Might have even made them go back and do something right when they’d already set it in motion wrong. But that’s OK--it’s better that we operate under absolute truth, right? Because now that we have truth as recorded by cell phone and open microphone there is nothing but truth. Or more accurately consequences from the lack of truth when the evidence is brought about. Is there anything more lame than a celebrity trying to accomplish damage control the day after an errant utterance? Some gossip rag calls out a racial slur or a momentary embrace and the next day you have that celeb embracing ethnics, interviewing with Katie Couric with a tearful apology or another calling a press conference to set the record straight. And it’s all a lie. The press conference should be saying, “Yesterday you heard me tell the truth, please disregard that and start to believe my lies again, OK? Because we all know I can’t be real.”
And as for confidence? What is left to believe in and find confidence in? Our leaders in politics? Please. No way. That’s just a contest called “Who is the better liar.” You really think the Trump popularity is anything more than a country sick of hearing baloney night and day? They are just enthralled by sound bites that say the kind of things they wish they could say. No matter where Trump finishes in the election he served a mighty purpose by making all of these other contenders toe the line and answer real questions.
Should we be bolstered in confidence by watching the millionaires play our beloved American sports? When championships are won by wealthy owners who piece together all-star teams and then buy the championship it is nothing like the old days when the Yankees, 49er’s or Celtics had come together as a group of heartfelt men and squeaked out a title despite an injury or two and a surprise performance by some unknown rookie or something. No today it’s all about a deep bench of role players. If one goes out, his replacement comes in. So rare to see a baseball pitcher accomplish 9 innings anymore, most kids today wouldn’t even understand how the closer might be asked to sit out a game as a pitcher is nearing a no-hitter or perfect game. No one even used to know the pitcher’s “count.” Now it’s posted, “Oh, that’s his 100th throw--sit him down--he’ll lose his stuff or get too sore.”
Yeah--I think I have to relate mostly to Paul Simon’s last lyric in this song about taking photographs and preserving memories. Because connected to those championships, the deeds of those accomplished politicians, the amazing feats of those heroic athletes were just that--the simple innocence of a nation who put their confidence in people to create their happiest memories. So we open the scrapbook and see the torn ticket, the Cracker Jack prize, the ketchup-stained pennant and we close our eyes, We see the photograph that Paul Simon sings about and in that moment, we are there. We preserve the memory and hope there will be more and further hope and pray our kids get a few. And then one day you close the scrapbook and hand it to your children and hope they glance at it now and then. That’s all that’s left for them.