It was supposed to be a loving trip down memory lane. PBS first aired a Peter Paul & Mary special, then an hour of folk oldies M C'd by the Smothers Brothers. These were the anthems of my teenage years. Folk, peace, love, ending wars, with some great classical thrown in. There was no rock, just idealism and humor on my record player. (Hey! Look it up, whippersnappers!)
It started to feel wrong tonight. At first, I put it down to all those songs that got missed, even though a pledge drive or two couldn't possibly have been inclusive. Then it began to feel like I was left out, so many songs I didn't know, still don't. Since everyone else seemed to, a "should" crept in there, pointing out the gaps and holes. But even that didn't explain it.
What finally emerged was failure. My failure. I believed in all that idealism back then. Of course, I was too young to be allowed to march for civil rights, the wrong gender to get caught up in the Viet Nam War, even though my brother was. All that idealism had no place to go, I tell myself.
So it went nowhere. Just got incorporated and buried. Life went on. There was some college, but without a real goal, got swapped for a marriage "because he needed me", and I needed to be needed. I disappointed my parents, despite - or perhaps because of - years of hearing I wasn't living up to my potential.
No clue what I was to do with that message, however. I was good enough at everything, so no one thing stood out. Life kept happening. There were the kids, putting up with a bad marriage until I finally couldn't anymore, struggling to be a single parent while at the same time putting my own head back together. There was no sense of living up to my potential in anything, nevermind being able to identify what that might have been.
It wasn't whatever all those idealistic messages had been however. There was no sense of making the world a better place, just recovering from what it had dished out. And no fooling myself about my failures along the way. There were no grand schemes, no noble causes, no big contributions in the rear view mirror. The world wasn't a better place for my having taken up a place in it.
Perhaps it's all just an age thing. The body is too old, has too many reminders of what can't be done anymore, carries around too heavy a pile of disappointments in what wouldda/couldda/shouldda beens. Too many years wasted, or at least falling far short of whatever it might have been. It's hard to carry around all that unfulfilled potential.
Songs like "Blowing In The Wind" stir it all up again. I can't help but ask, "Could I have made a difference? THE difference?"
Did we perhaps all fail?
Is that just how the world cycles round?
Or is that just another way to be able to sleep at night and continue on?