I Miss Mayberry: A Moment With Bill Reflection
A Wistful Yearning
: a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also :something that evokes nostalgia….Webster’s Dictionary
My wife and I had just returned from the supermarket where we had to pick up a few necessities, and my mind drifted as it has a tendency to do. I was trying to remember the first time I shopped in a supermarket, and the exact year was escaping me.
Yes, I am that old.
I was raised in Tacoma, Washington, a city of about 100,000 people in the 1950’s, and I am quite certain there were no supermarkets during that decade in Tacoma; at least there were none in the North End of that city where I was raised. When my folks needed groceries they went to the neighborhood market which was, in size, about the equivalent of a convenience store in today’s world.
Plunging through the depths of my memory, the first actual supermarket in our area was Piggly Wiggly and that appeared about 1963. I have clear memories of that store because my mom got a job as a cashier there shortly after it opened.
So that, of course, catapulted me into my nostalgia state, my “wistful yearning” for a simpler time, and that led me to wonder if those times of my childhood and teens really were worth being nostalgic over.
Sing along with me
Try to Remember
I’m not the only one who gazes back fondly on those days of yesteryear. I have written before about them and have received quite a few comments about how my readers wish for the simpler times.
Were they real or are they a figment of our imagination?
For me the simpler times included the following:
- More time spent with family and friends
- Friendly neighborhoods where everyone looked out for each other
- More respect, more smiles on the street and more courtesy
- Simple pleasures without the need of technology
- More compromise over issues
- Pride in one’s work and a decent wage that rewarded hard work
- Less hectic lifestyles
- Less debt
- More of a do-it-yourself attitude
Of course there are more for that list but I think most of you would agree that those are some of the more important attributes of the Simple Life we all remember.
But it’s not all of us now is it? I mean, there are those reading this right now who were born during the 90’s, so thoughts back to the 50’s and 60’s are really ancient history that you cannot relate to. Still I suspect that even you young whippersnappers look back on simpler times, which leads to my question and the purpose of this article: when did the simple times end for you?
Can you think of the day, or week, or month or year when life ceased to be relaxing, when the pressures began to mount and the fun decreased?
We currently have six chickens in our backyard coop, and they invariably remind me of my grandparent’s farm. My grandma must have had twenty chickens at any given time, and for Sunday dinner she would go outside and cut off the head of the chosen chicken, and it would flop around for awhile while the nerves sputtered and finally stopped sending messages to the brain.
There are times when today’s society reminds me of those chickens with their heads cut off. Life is so hectic and so traumatic and so laden with worries that people appear to be receiving disconnected messages that leave them in a permanent flopping around stage.
Is that you? Do you miss the “simple times”….do you remember when they ended?
The father of Mayberry thinking
If You Can Remember
Well, if you can remember when they ended, and you know why they ended, then it seems to me….follow with me for a second….it seems to me that you can return to them and reverse the trend if you want to.
I have and you can too!
I remember when Mayberry ended for me. The exact date….January 9, 1969, the day my dad died. From that point on I had to be the man of the house at the tender age of twenty. From that day on I had a bundle of new responsibilities, and eventually those responsibilities became habit and the habit became a lifestyle and decades passed for me wondering why there was a hole in my heart and a yearning I could not define.
I played the “modern” game with gusto. I worked hard, earned more, spent more, owed more, worked harder. I bought the house and then a bigger house and then a bigger house, and I lined up my expensive toys and worshiped them but still….the longing….the emptiness….and the confusion.
Fast forward to the year 2013 and I’m living in Mayberry again.
How did it happen?
I quit playing the game. I had found a game I could not possibly win so I picked up my proverbial marbles and went home. I quit working a traditional job, sold everything I did not need, found a woman who wanted the same things I wanted, got rid of most of our debt and only purchased according to need rather than want.
That, in a nutshell and a seven-year synopsis, is how it happened!
But We Can’t Possible Do It
I’ve heard that so many times I want to projectile vomit like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not even in seven years, but yes, you can do it if you want to do it.
What I have found the past few years is that some people are so heavily invested in this capitalism game that they cannot conceive of living a simpler life. They are bought and paid for by and with the Keynesian Economic Philosophy and they know of no other way. You reach adulthood and become a productive member of society, and productive, of course, means working forty or fifty hours per week, buying beyond your limit, piling up mountains of debt and then finding yourself trapped in a ride that has no terminus.
Well, my friends, it can end, but it requires some serious de-programming in your mind.
After a slight digression, let us return to the question asked earlier: when did the Simple Life end for you? Can you think of a particular day, as I can, or has it happened, as I suspect, slowly, gradually, like the advancement of a glacier, a seemingly unstoppable force in your life that threatens to crush the figurative life out of you?
Overly dramatic? I don’t think so. As I continue to travel through my life I see more and more people whose eyes no longer sparkle. I see more and more people who not only have lost the simple life but no longer even remember that it was once an option.
And that is terribly sad because life should be lived to the fullest. Life should be the pursuit of enjoyment and not a perpetual game of “Chase Your Own Tail” with the tail looking very much like a dollar sign.
Are you living in Mayberry?
One Good Thing About Our Current Economy
Is there good in today’s economy? Well, if you listen to the political hacks then yes, there are signs of improvement. Tell that to the working mother of two pre-school children who works part-time at McDonalds.
No, the good thing I refer to is that the economy, that nebulous bastion for the fat cats, is so bad that it is forcing people to make wise changes in their spending habits and their thoughts about life. More and more people are taking a look at the present, foreseeing the inevitable future, and realizing that the madness must end, and the ending begins with them.
Spending must be reined in. Moving towards self-sustainability must happen. Rejecting the wants and embracing the needs must happen.
It turns out Mayberry really was a pretty good place to live, and an increasing number of people are trying to find their way back to that simple country road where pressures are less and pleasures are more.
How Do You Find Mayberry
It just so happens that I have some very simple driving instructions for you. Are you ready?
Take a left onto Carefree Lane and continue on it until you come to Whimsy Place. Turn right and drive until you see an unusual amount of people sitting on their porches drinking ice-cold Cherry Cokes…..you will see men and their sons walking to the fishing hole carrying their bamboo poles….you’ll see moms and daughters having tea parties in the backyard, and children playing in the park, and neighbors talking about life over the picket fences.
And everywhere you look you will see smiles and hear words of welcome.
Yes, Mayberry still exists and it is waiting for you.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”