As I travel rural areas of eastern Kansas, I come across many farms with barns. Some barns are old and dilapidated and some newly constructed. Most have stood for several generations and are still in regular use…these are the ones with the modern quilt design plaques.
I am intrigued by the newer generation of farmers and ranchers who want to spruce up their property with this attractive art form. Whomever started this mini-craze has successfully marketed their product in this region. I wonder if one can find these plaques in other parts of the American landscape.
Not all barns are stained red, but this seems to be the prevailing color. The older barns are mostly faded gray wood. There is something special about these old structures. For me, they conjure up thoughts of a simpler, more physically demanding time…one which dreamily seems to have been more satisfying.
We fondly look to the past, recalling care-free days filled with fun, laughter, friends and family. Our first kiss; most memorable car; best friend; beloved pet(s); dreams of travel and adventure, and on-and-on the list goes. We look at the gilded past through diffused lenses. Unless our coming-of-age-days were horrible (and for some they were) we weed-out the unpleasant things and recall the good things. We all had some bad stuff.
Life is a toss-up of sorts: a mix of greens, veggies, toppings we can and can’t always discern, cheeses, maybe select meats, and usually coated with a dressing of choice. Sometimes we separate the items we don’t like and eat the ones we do. Or, we eat all of it and recall the unique sensual flavor of every bite. Nostalgia is like a salad.
Nostalgia can become a futile exercise. What I mean is that if we view the past through rose colored glasses and consistently recall the days of yore to be nothing but blissful moments of joy, we short-change ourselves in the present. I have very fond memories of my formative years, raising our children, and my continuing love affair with my wife. I am deeply grateful I have them. Although the years were/are ripe with many difficulties, challenges, struggles and sorrows, my fondness for these days rests upon the happy and joyful moments.
Interesting to me that the span of tough times seem to have been pretty much an underlying constant while the positive recollections only snapshots, but that is how my mind works. The moments of quality overcome the quantity of monotony and struggle. I suppose this is a psychological survival dynamic given to us by a benevolent and loving God.
Recently, my thoughts have focused on my failures and mistakes. No optimistic clichés, please. I have read and stated most of them. I understand the power of positive thinking. My mind simply chooses to wander into dangerous territory. I remind myself that life’s circumstances have shaped me into the man I am today. The past doesn’t define me, but it has affected me. So, I choose to push aside the distasteful parts of my salad and eat with gusto the yummy ones. And, I look forward to the next appetizer. Consider this a note to self.