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It’s the Values, Stupid

grandmothergrandaughterIt seems like the politicians have taken on “It’s the money, stupid,” as their refrain.  As I was putting a new ink cartridge into my fountain pen this morning, I thought to myself, “It really is all about the values, isn’t it?”

When I first started this love affair with vintage and retro objects and old movies and television shows, I had absolutely no idea where the journey would take me.  Now, all these years later, I’ve come to realize that my love affair isn’t with the objects themselves, but with what the objects represent to me: a set of values that I try to live my life by that don’t seem to be encouraged anymore or have been appropriated by groups that try to use the “value” as a weapon against others.

For example, as I was growing up, I learned in church about the Fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  I had the privilege of seeing these values in action through my grandmother Lois.

As I look back, I can see that my longing for a “retro life” began just about the time I ventured into a rough and tumble world where power and prestige were valued more than cooperation and humility.  A world where the bottom line in the school district was more important than whether my special education students got the services they needed.  A world where the internet was starting and the “hook up” generation was taking form.  A world filled with cynicism and where the politicians passed laws and started wars that benefited their already wealthy friends.  I didn’t fit in with that world.  And I still don’t.  I have tried to fit into the modern world.  It leaves me feeling angry, empty, and depressed.  But I have to also be careful not to romanticize the past.  There was ugliness then, too.

As a modern retro woman, I am choosing to reconnect with those values I was taught so long ago.  I am also like a woman who has crossed a very large desert and is terribly thirsty for the wisdom of our elders.  True wisdom, true values are timeless and cross-generational.

Yes, I enjoy having a 1950’s style telephone on my desk and all of the other accoutrements that go with my love of vintage and retro things, but it’s really about the values those objects represent.  And in speaking to others, I know I’m not alone in my thinking.

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3 Comments

  1. Your posts are such great “prompts.” Each deserves at least acknowledgment. Perhaps that’s happening elsewhere — like Twitter. Yes, value is what it’s all about. I think you’re careful about calling this a spiritual journey — perhaps that’s too personal — but it’s a fact that the church was central to the lives of my parents and grandparents, and after that, the lodge (esp. Rebekahs and Odd Fellows), where people of differing church affiliations came together to share these values.

    People used to be thinkers. I really believe that the value of quiet meditation has gone away from life in general. We fill empty moments with the noise of entertainment instead of pondering quietly some deep thought. For instance, as a teen-ager, I would turn on tv while I ironed. Mother did not forbid that, but she said, “I don’t want my thoughts directed by an outside influence. I think while I iron.”

    My mother had an envelope of clippings she had kept since her childhood — poems (some of which she had committed to memory), thought-provoking articles, etc. We found a similar packet in her brother’s house after his passing. People used to enjoy a “deep think.”

  2. Thank you for your kind words.

    Your remarks about people being deep thinkers really hit home with me. Ironically, I’m enjoying my time to think since leaving the academy…the place that is supposed provide the space for deep thinking.

    I am a deeply spiritual person, so it isn’t surprising that my posts reflect my spiritual journey. I think I’m cautious with my language because I want to be inclusive of other reader’s spiritual practices and journeys. I’ve learned so much from other faiths that have deepened and enriched my own faith.

    I think we’ve got a good reciprocal thing going. I prompt you, you prompt me and it all leads to a wonderful love-fest!

  3. Dr J,
    I like how you admire things from the past but work at not romanticizing those days. I know some would happily jump in a time machine and spend their days in some point in the past, but that is not for me. I’m a misfit who doesn’t totally fit in the past or the present. I guess I kinda smash them both together in a way that works for me! *grins*

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