As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, I find myself thinking more about certain aspects of life and how my perspective of it has gradually changed over time. For example, when I was young, I remember hearing adults as they reminisced about how things used to be. They called it ‘The Good Old Days’. Back then, I either didn’t understand it or was too preoccupied with the new discoveries of youth and the challenges of learning about family, friends, going to school, and what I wanted to be when I grew up.
At this junction of my life, however, with this fragile world seemingly poised to exhaust its natural resources (which would adversely affect the billions of humans inhabiting it), coupled with the threat of global warming, pollution, disruption of the balance of nature, nuclear war, endless military conflicts, greed, corruption, and an increasing attitude of indifference from all quarters, I now fully understand what my predecessors meant when they referred to ‘the good old days’.
Was the air really cleaner or the sky bluer back then? Did the welfare of others influence how we treated one another in our daily business and personal interactions? Are we now less tolerant, more aggressive, or so self-centered that the only thing that matters is ‘what’s in it for me?’ I would like to think that I’m an optimist, but while this is so, I’m also a realist who not only sees things for what they could be, but I’m also one who has the capacity to recognize things for what they are.
When one thinks of the good old days, everything is relative. My mother purchased the house I grew up in for $4,800 in 1956; that same house sold for $490,000 in 2004. As a kid, I can remember buying penny-candy at a neighborhood store where you’d get a bagful of sugary treats for a dime. Penny candy now costs a buck. A gallon of gasoline cost twenty-six cents, now it’s about $3.39. My stepfather used to send me to the store to buy him a package of cigarettes for twenty-eight cents (yes, back then a child could purchase them), now they’re creeping up to ten dollars a pack.
It seems that as time goes on, consumers get less and less products or services for more and more of their hard-earned money. Savvy marketers will attempt to appeal to the psychological aspects of human nature by either claiming that less is actually more, it’s healthier, or simply in-vogue. As clever as it might appear, I would hope that we are not that gullible.
I do understand that things will never be as they once were, for the only constant in this life is change. And for that reason, I appreciate it when I hear someone talk about ‘The Good Old Days’ because it takes me back to a time when life seemed to be simpler—a time when things might not have actually been better, but for me, they certainly were no worse.
What do the ‘Good Old Days’ mean to you, if anything?