Sunday, 22 July 2012

The sadness of sadness

I'm sad. I'm not going to say why I am sad right now because this blog is not a place for revelatory confession. Also the events involve others and I have no permission to expose their pain.

I had the great misfortune to have a happy childhood. To have been born during the postwar boom was entrĂ©e into the most privileged life any generation of what we now call "the 99%" has ever known. Houses cost a few thousand dollars. Cars a couple of thousand. There were more jobs than men to take them. Unions were making a difference. The doors of the Nation were wide open – please, come on in, this is Canada. Welcome!

And for a child life was an endless series of amusement park entrances in candy-coated red with the promise of all fun within! And sugary treats. And naps – many have written about falling asleep in one place (perhaps the car) to awake in another (probably your own bed). Anyhoo, a tapestry of squealing delight to the point of complete exhaustion.

The legendary Canadian supergoup Rush has a song titled "Lakeside Park". That was a real place. An amusement park in my home town. When I was 13 my friends and I rode our bikes out there (4.8 kms). We arrived and saw that the park was demolished. There was an atmosphere of disbelief. I walked to where the park should have been. I found the cement footings of what had been a ride called the Caterpillar. I sat in the sand and wept.

Like Holden Caulfield, I was weeping at the loss of my own childhood.

Me, in happier times

The Caterpillar Ride, today, at Idlewild:

1 comment:

  1. As in my childhood, my mind is a mysterious place where things are created. As a child, I would sit for hours expressing those things to my friends. Today, I sit at a computer and let those thoughts flow like water. At least until something goes wrong with the technology and my well-crafted thoughts vanish, like they did a moment ago, forcing me to artificially recreate what I was writing. Well, let's give it a try.

    The melancholy of your post is a reflection of what many of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s have experienced. It is a loss of innocence that is a natural process of aging, a process that Holden Caulfield resisted. We rage, rage against the dying light of our childhoods.

    Reading your memories of the rape of Lakeside Park are poignant because our childhoods were a time when real people, places and things were spun into the dreams of our inner minds. I vividly remember as a child curling up in the armchair beside our freshly-decorated Christmas tree, the room lights extinguished, staring into the boughs of the tree. The tree lights created glistening, little fantasy worlds in the reflections on the silvery balls hanging from the branches. It was a world I was lost in, a world that my mind created.

    Today's child does not have that experience. The world is not as safe and simple as it used to be. We never spent much time in front of the TV, and there were no computers, Internet or iThings. Now, fantasy is created for our children, while they are safely ensconced in the cocoon of their bedrooms, far away from the hazards of the real world, spoon-fed a reality someone else has made up for them.

    Like you I lament the loss of our childhood. I lament the loss of imagination and real-world experience of today's children. And I lament that many children never even had the opportunity to experience that childhood world, whether for physical, psychological or emotional reasons. For them, childhood was not taken away. It never existed in the first place.