It’s no secret at all that I like to write period pieces. I’ll dabble a bit in the high 1800s, but it’s the twentieth century I like to tap dance all over. The dash between 1900 and 2000 fascinates me, and I never thought about why until last night when I had one of my famous random thoughts.
I’ve been watching Cold Case reruns religiously for about a month now. Each show focuses on a crime that’s gone cold, and they touch on about every decade from the last century. I find it scintillating. I’ve gotten to watch a timeline of how these decades developed and eras came to be…and it isn’t just a collection of random fads. There’s something scientific behind poodle skirts, or big hair, or peace signs, or air Jordans.
Each era is not only distinct because of the clothes worn or music played…those things are just a product of mindsets. They reflect what human beings were ready for at the time. They reflect new ideas being formed into things we listen to or put on our body. A war, an athlete, or a beverage could have sparked it…it could have been anything that caused a reaction. A lot of times it was many things, and revolutions started without people knowing they were starting them. However, they could not be rushed.
Time came about organically, and I’ve realized is just an illustration of a growing human being. Seeing as how I always write character-driven pieces, with the era as much as character as people, I’ve had a “eureka” kind of moment. We are the times…I just focus on a different part of the human psyche depending on which era I’m engrossed in. I’m just now realizing why. Different decades represent newness, naivety, rebellion, discovery, and rebirth. We go through all of these emotions in our lifetimes, but we tend to live in an age focused on one of them, and the crazy part is we really have no way of knowing which until we’re just a memory.
Almost everyone could have been considered liberal or conservative at what time or another considering what the mind and body was ready for in relation to what experience was available at the time. Society grew as naturally as it could, and looking back, resembled two teenagers groping around at each other in the dark (I also often write about adolescence…go figure). The reason? We are always that person we were when we asked the question “why” for the first time, discovering our egos. We are always in the age of enlightenment or confusion. One man’s light is another’s dark. That’s why there is a liberal out there for every conservative, and a no for every yes. We aren’t all necessarily on the same path, but we’re on the same timeline. We’re on the earth when we’re on the earth. We’re discovering the same things from different views and trying to figure out how to do it together in a common time…and just like that, a culture is born. It has a heartbeat, a personality, and a tone, that in later years will define it. People will sing about it, and write about it, and draw about it for years to come. A few of us have that stir to document it, and I thank God I’m one of them.
By writing what I write, I’m reflecting on what’s happened, and paving the way, for myself at least, for what’s to come. When I reflect upon it, when I am confused, and when I’m flailing…that’s when I’m writing about today. Maybe there are other writers out there doing the same, and we will one day be the anthems of our own generations. However, there’s no way to know that yet. That’s for someone after my time to look back on and unveil. It’s delicious to me to think what age is it? The one I don’t even know I’m a part of…