Friday, May 12, 2017

A Timely Blog

Art plays an important part in human civilization by expressing our humanness in a different form.  Of course, as a writer, I consider myself an artist of words, but paintings, photography, etc. are a different subset.  

I bring this up because one of the ways I always inspire and motivate my writing is to visit museums to observe and absorb the art.  Oh, I'm not one of those dreamy types who fawn over the work or the artists (you won't find me at an art auction or swooning over some visiting painter), but I do love to stroll by and sometimes pause in front of paintings that move me.
One of the first things I do as I observe the work is look at the accompanying description and note the date of the piece as well as the dates of the artist.  For example, one of my favorite works is in the Blanton Museum here in Austin and done by Donald Roller Wilson.  "Mrs. Jenkins' Late Night Dinner in Her Room, Alone (While, Out in the Hall Leading to Her Room, Her Small Friends were Sleeping)" was completed in 1984 when Wilson was 46.  His dates are 1938—present.  
So he did this in the 1980s, my favorite decade.  Many of my books are set during that time, I finished college then, there were some exciting bands coming into their own (Stevie Ray Vaughn, U2, The Police, Midnight Oil, etc.) Reagan was destroying the middle class at the time (sorry, my political side had to chime in), disco was dying out (thank god).  All and all, an interesting decade.

I then think about what I was up to when I was the same age as the painter. For example at 46: I was still recovering from getting run over on my bike by a car; I had established myself as a great academic adviser at UT (hey, I get to pat myself on the back); I had a number of my short stories published by then and so like a crazed gambler still worked feverishly at becoming a famous writer (still working on that); well, you get the idea.  I try to establish the connection to time with the author, the age/year and myself.

In other words, I'm thinking a lot about time.
Tom Hussey's thoughts on time passing
As I get older, this seems to be a bigger thought.  Oh, it could be that subconsciously I'm thinking about my mortality, but I like to believe it's just that time and age fascinate me.
I do something similar with movies and TV shows.  I always check to see when they aired and figure out what I was up to at that time.  For example, I love the TV show "Lost."  I'm still shocked when I watch my DVDs of the show that it ended seven years ago.  Surely it was only a couple of years.
I have a feeling this means I have a hard time comprehending time.  When things are happening now, time seems to be just crawling along.  Yet, when I think about things that happened in my past—what?  Star Trek: TNG ended almost a quarter century ago!—I'm always shocked how fast time moved.
All of this seems a little odd to me because for the most part age doesn’t bother me that much.  I don’t mind that I’m older, recognize that I may no longer be able to keep up on a soccer field with 18-year-olds, and even realize that the slight injury I get from some activity might take longer to heal.
That being said, I do not necessarily reveal my age to women when they ask (if they don’t ask, I don’t bring up age at all).  Instead, I’ll say something like “I’m the same age as Jerry Seinfeld and John Travolta or some other celebrity that’s my age. 

The reason I do this is because women do care about age.  If I were to tell a younger woman my age, she may just reject me outright for that reason.  If I force her to think about a star who is at the same age, well, I have a better chance of getting beyond the initial conversation.  I’ve alluded to this before in a blog about superficiality.  Although men may judge a woman by her looks, a woman will judge a man by his station in life/wealth.  So, if I take age out of the equation, I may get further.
Women also show more concern about their age because of their belief in what age may entail.  It brings about changes in hair, adds wrinkles, etc.  This bothers them so much a gigantic industry flourishes to feed this fear.  Besides lipstick, eyeliner and perfume, cosmetic companies make millions on anti-aging elixirs and creams.  While you might find one or two of these targeting men, you’ll find thousands for women. 

I admit we guys like to chase after younger females. It makes us feel younger when they seem interested.   This doesn’t mean we don’t like women who have aged.  I have a feeling that women's disdain for the signs of aging is similar to women and their relationship with fashion.  As noted before, women dress for other women, not for men.  Most likely, it's the same mindset for women about aging.  They want to impress other women about how young they look even though they are at such-and-such age. 
So time may pass.  Time may ebb and flow.  Time may even be relative. However, one thing I’m sure about is that time will keep us thinking about our place in time.

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