The One Where Jim Goes Back in Time

Tuesday night I was transported back to the 60s via the concert, RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles.  It was a spectacular hard day’s night!

In addition to the live music performed with look-a-likes and sound-incredibly-alikes, the stage work included multiple images from the decade – Ed Sullivan, shampoo commercials, car commercials, even the Flintstones… smoking Winston cigarettes!

In the magical 60s, I read Vonnegut and Wolfe, Buchwald and Capote. I laughed at Bill Cosby and could never understand the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (I still don’t). I watched The Fugitive, Beverly HillbilliesMan From U.N.C.L.E.I SpyDick Van Dyke, The Twilight Zone, and 60 Minutes, which began in 1968, two years after a little show that took viewers into space – Star Trek: “Scotty, I need warp speed in three minutes or we’re all dead!”

While the music continued, my mind flashed backed to high school (all three of them), college (only two) and the people I’d met, was inspired by, worked with, and had fun with.

It was an incredible time of opportunity and revolution, confidence and ambiguity. President Kennedy promised that we would land a man on the moon and we did.  Woodstock was supposed to be this little, obscure musical event that has revolutionized every large concert event since. We felt boundless self-assurance even as we couldn’t quite realize our place or purpose in the world.

However, in the flash of all those memories, the one thing that struck me was that all those screen images reflected happy times. In reality, the 60s had more than its share of tragic, passionate, complex and confusing times – The Cuban Missile CrisisBerlin WallViet-Nam, and the counterculture. Jefferson Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner noted, “If you can remember anything about the sixties, then you weren’t really there.”  (I was there, Paul. I just didn’t do as many drugs.)

Civil rights disciple Medger Evers was assassinated in 1963, President Kennedy followed that same year. I was in high school back east when both events took place. In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated followed by Robert Kennedy just two months later; and before the first man walked on the moon in 1969, America faced the tragic deaths of Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee while their Apollo 1 spacecraft was being tested on the launch pad.

Where am I going with all this?

About half-way through the Tribute, I began to compare 2010 to the “magical” 60s. That’s when I realized that we’re still facing tragic, passionate, complex and confusing times. And that brought me to this thought:  Sometimes we get so caught up in the slipstream of gotta-be-there, gotta-do-that that we forget to stop and appreciate where we are right now.

Maybe we need to take a break from our 24/7-HD-cable-chatter-internet-FacebookTweeting fixations, take our minds as well as our bodies out for a walk, and not take ourselves so seriously.

Yes, times are difficult, and so are many of the choices we face, but when has it not been so?  It’s hard to maintain ideals in an imperfect world. It’s difficult to sustain optimism amongst the cynicism that’s out there. But that’s part of the challenge of living a noble life.

The other part is extending a hand, demonstrating patience, practicing forgiveness and embracing a little more gratitude.

The Hebrew expression Tikkun olam – repairing the world – is a reminder that each of us has a responsibility to make our world a better place.

Gratitude for what we have, give and receive is a great place to start.

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