Archive | September 2014

Logan’s Run, The Giver and Life

Logan's Run

Logan’s Run

When I was young I watched a movie called Logan’s Run. I’m not sure where I saw it or even when, but it embedded itself into my memory like one of those happy moments from childhood that returns unexpectedly as an adult. It was my first introduction to the world of Utopian societies. At the time of the viewing, it was just another movie that was exciting and weird all at the same time. I got to thinking about it ….again, the other day as I drove towards northern Virginia. As the Kudzo overgrowth loomed over the highway, I had a flashback of the protagonists as they saw Washington DC for the first time. It was the scene in the movie that would come back over and over again throughout my life. I never knew why, nor do I know now why it should surface in my memory, but the other day I smiled just thinking about it. In the movie the protagonists come across our nation’s capitol after hundreds of years of abandonment…it is covered in Kudzo and canopies of trees and shrubs.

courtesey regulus-starnotes.blogspot.com

courtesey regulus-starnotes.blogspot.com

I remember thinking how odd the scene was in the movie… like, how would the director or set designer know what DC would look like if it were abandoned for years? Now that I live in Virginia, I can fully see how they got the idea that the capitol would turn out to be an overgrown mess with monuments peeking through the greenery. Today the vegetation  near the city is already overtaking nearby deserted structures…it’s quite beautiful actually. The closer I got to the city, I found the whole idea of the movie to be deeper than I once thought. Strange that the writer should take two people from a youth-only-society and unleash them into what is now anything BUT utopian and one that probably has the make up of more young adults than anything else. Strange but very cool….very thought provoking.

fahrenheit litstack.comAs I grew older I was lucky to have some incredible teachers and professors who forced almost every bravenewworld  amazonUtopian/Dystopian society book, story, or movie on me.  One of the earliest was Animal Farm. Imagine my shock when I realized it wasn’t about a bunch of pigs that lived on a farm…it wasn’t Charlotte’s Web! Then it was off to read 1984, and then  off to watch all of the Charlton Heston’s Planet of the Apes movies. Still, by then it really hadn’t hit me that there was this big political theme going on…but I would figure it out when I had to tear apart Brave New World, Utopia, Fahrenheit 451, and Plato’s Republic! HOLY COW… I finally got what everyone was writing about… a perfect world with no hate, war, or pain. Could there be such a thing? Apparently not…

Now as an adult, I am enjoying a new generation of Utopian stories that have our youth engaged and eager to read; The Hunger Games, Harry Potter (yes, there is some discussion as to the type of society the wizards live in) and my favorite…The Giver and all of Lois Lowery’s sequels. Ironically, unlike the previous books and movies mentioned earlier, with the exception of Logan’s Run,  the latest manuscripts depict worlds where the young are the future of the world. At the moment I find that odd and a bit scary since I am NOT the youth of the world. But then I got to thinking….uh oh…

The Giver goodreads.com

Shouldn’t these new books be aimed at our youth so that they actually learn from them? Us old geezers already got the message and know that there is no world of “perfection.” WE want the generations below us to know what happens when leaders force rules and regulations that take away our personal rights and ideas. WE want these young people to realize that they should never walk blindly into a world that appears to be perfect, that they must be prepared  to see the world as it truly is… and that they  must cherish the old and learn from them, for they have the answers they seek if they are willing to listen. Jonas, in The Giver, got it. He asks, “What’s the point.” If everything is taken away, all feelings, emotions, love…than what is left? IF our youth can’t figure it out…then our world will surely be ruined beyond recognition. To this I say…Thank God for authors, teachers, leaders, and yes…crazy bloggers like me, that continue to bring these things to light for the next generation…

 

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The White Villa Lessons

courtesy of hotel andalusia

photo-google images

The large white villa stood out amongst the tiny Spanish community with its  shutters and wide array of fruit trees. How long it had stood there was a mystery to the family inside. They had come to like the gated house with all its unique architectural features and massive pool. It was the 1960’s, and life here was a colossal of changes for this family of seven. Inside the gates, the boys chased each other around the yard until they managed to find their way out and up the cliffs that loomed above their home. The girl, quiet and tiny, played with her dolls and watched as her mother bartered with the traveling gypsies. It was a world like none they had ever known… one that would leave a lasting impression on them long after they returned to their own homeland.
It was here that some of my most fundamental characteristics were embedded into my being. I, of course, didn’t know it at the time. But now looking back, I realize my experience in Spain affected me in more ways than I ever knew possible. You see, I was that little girl playing with her dolls and watching her mom as she helped the gypsies feed and cloth their young. They say that children learn from a young age, and perhaps I did too. I never really knew when I got the desire to help others… to not judge them by their looks or occupations, but I have a pretty good idea that it was when I was there in Spain. Some of my earliest memories are of this time in my life. It was the first time I had ever seen a gypsy, starving artists, and my first person with dementia. I can still see them vividly in my mind because I remember my own mother’s reaction to all of them. She smiled, she offered help, she did not judge.

photo of gypsy girls

courtesy google images

You could only imagine the chaos when the first gypsies arrived at our gates asking for food and clothing. All of us kids came running to the gate, gawking and whispering to each other. I smile now thinking how crazy they must have been to have come to a house with five children who were passing clothes down the line. But still my mom found clothes to give them. If they asked for food…she found that too. We were not wealthy. We lived in the large white villa only because it was the only house that could fit our large family. I don’t know how my poor father managed to pay for it, as the military didn’t pay him much…but he lived by the motto “If there’s a will there’s a way,” and he and my mother managed to provide for us.

One day a painter came to the tall wrought iron gates and needed food. He looked as though he had been living down by the river and us kids watched him earnestly. He had his paintings with him and was surprised when my mother asked if he’d like to trade. She figured he would rather feel as if he bought the food. My mother selected two paintings, bullfighters in green and blue… he took fruit, meat and small rolls. To this day his paintings hang in my parent’s home…a reminder to all of us children the importance of generosity with humanity.

Then one day I travelled with my mother and our maid (every one had them there) to her home in a small neighboring village. As we walked up to her tiny cottage a large basket swung from ropes in the gently wind. Inside, our maid’s ninety-eight year old mother lay like an infant cooing and babbling like a baby. She was all shriveled up and sucking on her bony thumb. My six-year-old eyes bulged from their sockets as I stared down at her and wondered what on earth was an old lady doing in a baby’s basket. My mother gently nudged me on with a smile and whispered not to stare. But I was mesmerized. I had NEVER EVER seen anything so odd in my short life. But when we returned to our car, my mother told me that the woman had lost her memory and thought she was a baby. That sometimes things happen when we get old and we must not judge people for things that they cannot control. And now…when I see something odd… I think about this small lesson from Spain and find understanding and compassion for those that cannot control their destiny.

The truth is, it was a big house that held within it great memories for five American children. The stories are countless…but the lessons from that period in my life are by far some of the best ones a child could treasure. They are lessons that mold and shape the tiniest of people into caring, loving and understanding human beings. Sometimes it’s nice to think about where those lessons came from…. thanks mom and dad for those days in Spain and all that followed.