Why Look Back?

We’re sometimes asked why Retrospect is focused on looking backward. Isn’t it better to leave the past behind? Don’t we want to live in the present?

Here are our thoughts. We’ve reached an age where it can be satisfying, even important, to look back at where we came from and remember how we got here. Living only in the present ignores a rich personal and cultural history that can give us a sense of wholeness and integration.

We found this nicely summarized in this poem, suggested by a friend when she heard about the site.

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

 

Why Boomers?

Some of you have asked us why Retrospect focuses on baby boomers. Can’t everyone enjoy telling stories about their lives?

Of course they can. And we encourage everyone to come to Retrospect, read and comment on the stories here, and tell some of their own. This is especially true of near-boomers (who share some of the same experiences) and our own families and friends (since our stories constitute their legacy). They may also want to tell their side of the story!

But we think it’s important to focus on one generation at a time, because then we all share similar memories. Other boomers’ experiences are more likely to strike a chord in us and spark our own. Anyone can write about What We Read, but if we write about Dick & Jane (& Sally!) or My Weekly Reader, only boomers will experience that jolt of recognition.

Baby boomers (born 1946–1964) are in a unique position. Unlike younger generations, we have accumulated plenty of life experience and we understand the value of passing it on. Ten thousand of us are retiring every day, so we increasingly have time to tell our stories. And unlike our parents’ generation—whose stories are unfortunately being lost too fast—we’re comfortable with computers and with sharing on social media. (That’s why we often feel motivated to tell our parents’ and grandparents’ stories for them.) As boomers, we have an unprecedented opportunity to compile a social history of an entire generation, as told by the people who experienced it.

There’s one more reason: all three founders of Retrospect are boomers and we understand our generation best. Eventually we absolutely want to expand Retrospect to include other generations as well. But for now, it makes sense to focus on boomers.

 

Lines We Liked

The Cleaver family from the television program Leave it to Beaver. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Cleaver family from the television program Leave it to Beaver. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Thanks for sharing your family sayings last week in response to the prompt S#*t My Family Said. Here are some lines that we especially liked:

You don’t turn love off and on like a faucet.
Words and Sayings from an Immigrant Family by Rosie (thanks also for suggesting the prompt)

My parents were very different. We were never quite sure why they married in the first place, or how they stayed together as long as they did.
Different Types by Betsy

My Father-in Law, that has since passed, looked at my Mother-in Law and said quietly … “The F**K we don’t !!!!”
Untitled by Chardog

Whenever I needed her intervention with my Mom and I asked her for that help—she would always say “be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”
Be Careful What You Ask For … by SusanK

On a couple of occasions he called me a knucklehead. I didn’t mind all that much because, admittedly, I was actually being one at the time.
Sounds Like Sit’-zen-zee by Constance