Calculating My Personal Field of Dreams

My brother pointed out that yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the premiere of Field of Dreams, which at first looked to me like a hoax. Didn’t they just have a big anniversary of that? And could it have been 30 years?

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It could. As someone also pointed out the other day, 1990 will be 30 years ago next year, and for some of us, that just feels wrong. We were kids 30 years ago, right? Playing T-ball, riding bikes, learning fractions?

I think about this stuff a lot these days. It’s the conundrum of relativity—as Kurt Vonnegut used to say all the time, I just got here, stop looking at me for answers. That’s how I feel. I may be 60, but it’s not like I’m a senior citizen or something.

Ah, well. That’s the thing about numbers. They have a tendency to focus the mind. If they can find the mind, much less get it to focus. Things are just different.

But back to the time thing. I’ve realized for a while now that the modern era, in my mind, began in 1968. Anything from 1968 forward feels like it’s fairly new to me, fairly recent. Not 1967. Certainly not before.

Which is insane, obviously. That’s 51 years ago. I was 10 years old in 1968.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s just the age one reaches (or I reached, anyway) when the world becomes a real thing, something tangible to pay attention to, not just this place where we play T-ball (which I don’t remember existing in the 1960s, actually, although fractions were around).

Let’s play this out a little. A 10-year-old today (I know a couple; I can ask) is just now looking at the world. This is horrible. But what can you do? It doesn’t feel particularly optimistic, but this theoretical kid is just getting started. We can hope, I suppose.

To a guy my current age in 1968, the world would have started in 1917 using this calculation. Now we’re getting somewhere. This man was 10 toward the end of the first World War. He probably served in the second, in his early 30s. He would have been in his 40s when the post-war boom took off, 50 when Sputnik sent its first beeps back to earth, ready to retire during the Nixon administration.

A quick glance at Wikipedia only shows Laurence Olivier as being born in 1907, and that’s not a big help, but this feels useful to me. It starts to make me respect generational theory just a little bit more. A guy turning 41 this year begins his awareness with the first George Bush administration and the first Gulf War, for example. He might have finished college and in the workforce before really encountering his first economic downturn, and then 30 when the Great Recession took off. I don’t envy this guy at all, although I guess none of us got an easy ride.

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This might explain a historical oddity I’ve noticed, when it comes to religiosity and the Founding Fathers. They were all over the place, of course, but the first Great Awakening (the Protestant revival phenomenon that swept the UK and its American colonies) was just getting going when George Washington turned 10, perhaps explaining his particular devoutness (although it was sort of odd). Benjamin Franklin, on the other hand, very much a free thinker, would have already been an established businessman, and Thomas Jefferson was barely born. I don’t know. Something that interests me.

And really? I’m still a little bothered that my friends haven’t seen Hook. That’s where this is coming from. I’ve apparently reached an age where I’ve become unmoored from the culture, aware of things that younger generations are clueless about, and should be.

But I can always force them to watch the movie (oh, I will). I can never recapture those glory days of playing T-ball, which, as I said, I’m pretty sure never happened.

Chuck SigarsComment