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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Clouds Fly Now



                                           [Normaphoto]


A popularly accepted sign that an older person is about to garrulate are the words, "Young people nowadays..." and "Time was...".  It is a pattern, just as children extend their thoughts beyond available data, just as I often say things I haven't thought of yet. We progress in life from free playground repartee to underwear arguments with college roommates, then brittle tête-à-têtes with colleagues, to finally leaning close and asking, "eh!? what was that?" But there is no really reliable forecast of impending garrulity. That is a myth.

Young people nowadays have it way harder than my generation. Time was, I remember, 40-50 years ago, we had a huge number of young people who wanted, above all, happiness --happiness for everybody. Then it attenuated to happiness for themselves because not everybody could be happy about everything. Then they grew into very loud churches and subcultures that desired their own happiness over the unhappiness of others and paradise was lost. Sorry stuff, but kids now fear for their lives.

Young people nowadays aren't safe. They'd like to be. They'd like to achieve the same safe, sustainable society all generations want. But we are stuck on Heraclitus who observed, "All beasts are driven to the pasture with blows." This does not improve the disposition of new Utopians. Young people are not beasts, they are human. We are human. Humans possess a capacity for nonsense, for imagination, qualities that can thwart designs of corporate voices in the head and brutalities of misrule. Imaginative nonsense can lead us places for which defensive logic is sometimes too ponderously awkward.

Young people nowadays, to them I suggest, consider the clouds. Consider herds of them making their way inland from the sea. They are heading toward distant mountains to resolve into streams, join rivers, enrich the land then return to the sea once more. An ongoing cycle, but it too has changed since I was young. Clouds fly now. Time was, clouds had to walk inland. I'd see them plodding along lonely roads with gravel and weeds sticking to their foggy feet. They moved slowly, wearily, often minus parts that snagged on fences or got sheared by a passing truck. They had dangerous work.

In the evening you could always tell when a cloud was knocking on the door. There wasn't a knock so much as a chuff-chuff, which was all their soft fists could manage. They'd ask for a glass of water. Sometimes they'd want directions to a nice pasture to lie down in, which was sad because they never got up --but it was how we got vernal pools so we accepted it. Then, by and by, something changed.

Somewhere, maybe out on the ocean, a cloud leaned forward and fell in a certain way and, as you and I sometimes do in dreams, began to fly. Clouds, like young people nowadays, are natural rubberneckers and once they get the principle of a thing they do it too. Before long, all clouds got to flying, like the ones in the picture above, and they arrived whole and safe upon high ranges of the earth. Young People Nowadays, go thou and do likewise.

33 comments:

  1. A really good piece of writing, Geo. Damn nice.

    I am really fed up with the near-constant posts on blogs about 'these kids today'. How they feel entitled, how they don't read, how they don't have 'our' drive, discipline, on and effing on. You said it right, they fear for their lives, with good reason. Tell that shit to the kids who live in the West Bank, in Kiev, in Ferguson MO.

    We had it good.

    Wasn't it the idea once, to leave our kids with a better world than the one we had?
    Ciao,
    Mike

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    1. There's no shortage of push, pluck and enterprise in young people now. I have a measureless faith in them. There's plenty of illusion and disillusion in making a better world, but I believe we made progress. Unfortunately, so did some darker forces. As Dana Bate, a favorite thespian and philosopher used to say, "Never give up."

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  2. I really don't know clouds at all but I think you are brilliant, Geo.

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    1. I've looked at it from both sides now and decided that's a lovely compliment. Thank you.

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  3. Here on the central coast I hope "they rain and snow on everyone."
    Young people nowadays deserve green hills, running streams and full wells.
    Seniors too, so we can see "feather canyons everywhere."

    A lovely and poignant post. Thank you.

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  4. A beautiful piece, but somehow it seemed to go far beyond the apparent subject of your essay. It knocked on the door, and perhaps partly opened that door onto something indefinable. My thanks.

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    1. My essays often extend beyond my brain and rely on cloud computing.

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  5. Every generation has had its fears, unfortunately for the kids of today, theirs are publicized.

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    1. Wise Arleen, I believe you've nailed it!

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  6. I found myself starting out a verbal tirade with 'When I was growing up...." then had to pull myself up short (not that I had a choice) because I haven't finished growing up yet. We're all just finding our way among the clouds.

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    1. Indeed, we're always in the process of becoming. You express it well.

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  7. And how I would love to take to the skies with the clouds. All of them. The soft fluffy numbers AND the moody malcontents.
    Brilliant Geo. Thank you.

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    1. Most kind. We'd learn how clouds find their ways among each other.

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  8. I had a wonderful time when I was a child. I knew I was loved. I had the freedom to go almost anywhere and not worry about being hurt. My mother was home if I needed a hug. My father enjoyed being with us while he was not at work. And I still want everyone to be happy. I see the children of today who walk the streets aimlessly because they have nowhere safe to go and nothing fun to do. Imagination and inventiveness is discouraged. Violence is an everyday occurrence. These children often have bleak futures and it breaks my heart. Where is their happiness? Perhaps the clouds know.

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    1. Wow. A powerful and accurate observation, Emma. I'm reminded instantly of Allen Ginsberg's poem, Howl, from the mid-'50s which began,"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves..." It spread through arts communities and across the nation to be come a focal point and threshold of a million individual adjustments, improvements. It can happen again. It will happen again.

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    2. I do believe there is hope. Just a bit of encouragement is all it will take.

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  9. Chasing rainbows and seeking the clouds...great aspirations. Lay on the grass, search out the past and accept what happened in those years. Grab those dreams, don't just let they fly.

    A brave lot, these young people.

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    1. Clouds, like those that composed Shakespeare's Tempest --"O brave new world, That has such people in it!"

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  10. Dear Geo.,
    (I feel a bit like walking on egg-shells, as I obviously had gotten something wrong in your post about 'Hoots' - hope it doesn't happen here again).
    That being said: I got into a feud on Facebook with people who argued just the way you described above: sitting well-secured on their derrières, bickering about the idle, conformed youth of today. Not conservative people, quite the contrary. I spoke my mind - of course they reacted outraged (and not as polite as I :-)
    So I went on a Facebook-diet ('them' being only one of at least three reasons for that) - and enjoy having more time for other things.
    I adore young people, and yes: it is not easy for them nowadays. A very important thing is to listen to what they have to say (but the moaners are very often too busy to do just that - suffer from a form of hearing-loss, I think).

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    1. Dear Brigitta,
      No walking on egg shells please! I detected no misunderstanding about Hoots in your excellent comment.

      As to people who doubt the integrity of young people, I believe you describe them quite accurately. And, yes, it is hard to reason them out of opinions they were not reasoned into. If the "moaners" worked on being more reasonable, they'd realize we're all in this together --and it might cure their "hearing-loss"!

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  11. Best sermon ever! Me and Mr are working in a local school currently with some under-confident 'misfit' teenagers: we are hoping to drive them to the pastures with properly focussed Tae Kwon-Do techniques (Heraclitus would have made a terrible Instructor) and they are perfectly reasonable, likeable, capable young people. The world would be safe in their hands, it's them that don't feel safe in the hands of the world. We did some flying kicks today: learning from the clouds :-)

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    1. Oh, that's a wonderful project, Lisa! My compliments to you and Mr. --with admiration for your agility. If I tried a flying kick, I'd probably do more damage to myself than whatever I launched at.

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  12. I think we all romanticize the past, it's human nature. It's so easy to fall into the "when I was growing up" mindset. Granted, I am still kind of young, but even I find myself saying that sometimes!

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    1. You're right, Keith. My kids tried to break me of the habit --with some success-- but I still lapse. When I was their age...oh, I'm doing it again.

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  13. I like to think that when we make comments about the "way things used to be", it's more as a contribution of interesting talking points, rather than as a way to insult the young people of today. That's what I'd like to think. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. The trick is to open our minds to what they have to say... enough to listen to them, but not so much we risk letting our brains fall out. (I hate when that happens, dude!)

    Another terrific and thought-provoking post.

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    1. Thanks, Susan --a good point and a true one. My brain hasn't fallen out yet because it is calcified to its cranial vault, but functional enough to recognize young peoples' superior familiarity with modern challenges.

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  14. Another intuitive post, with observations made beautifully. "Clouds fly now."

    I wonder about the generation of this day, and pray they can pull their weight.

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  15. Thanks, Susan. That is hopeful prayer, and a kind one.

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  16. Then there's that Joni Mitchell song: "I've looked at clouds from both sides now..."

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    1. Truly remarkable how that song remains in our collective consciousness and visits though time.

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