Monday, October 12, 2009

Seeing reality

I've just been jolted by reality and I'm not so sure I like it.

I realize that my childhood was a very long time ago. That isn't the kind of thought that pops into my head on a regular basis. The fact of my aging does, however, drift into my consciousness at times--mostly while I'm lying in bed awaiting the magic dust from Mr. Sandman.

While I am well aware of the little things that change as we age, my thoughts and the way I process them have evolved over time. The change has been so slow that my changes in thinking have barely been discernable. But now and then, there is a shock of realism that seemingly marks time. I just had one of those.

I'm not sure why, but I decided to look up the city on the internet where my grandparents lived. I don't know what I expected to see. But, I can assure you I didn't get it.

They lived in a tiny town in Michigan. I remember it only vaguely from my childhood. I remember the big farmhouse they lived in and the land around it. It had a big red barn and a somewhat dilapidated hay barn. If that barn was dilapidated fifty years ago, chances are it has been history for some time. I never gave that a thought. It is funny how our memory is stubborn--refusing to believe that what we remember no longer exists.

I was saddened to look at the website of this city. While my mind has conjured it up the way it was, possibly embelished just a little by my own fantasies, that just isn't the way it is any more.

It is just like any other small city, struggling to grow, pay its bills, and deal with mundane day-to-day activities. The city charter has little room for my fanciful ideals about black skies peppered with twinkling stars, the thrill of chasing elusive, dancing fireflies, or picking bouquets of wildflowers along a deserted country road. Seeing the pictures erased the romantic memories with unremarkable reality.

On second thought, this lesson in reality teaches me to be grateful, not for what has been lost, but in what remains. I have retained the ability to see through childlike eyes. Imagination is a gift. The beauty of age provides is that I can appreciate the comparison, which makes the gift all the more precious.