On The Threshold
Last week I started watching The Wonder Years on Netflix. I haven’t seen this show in about twenty years, when it first aired on television. I remember really liking it. After all, Kevin Arnold, the main character, was the same age when the show begins in 1968 as I was then (12). And though his life was a bit different from mine, it resonated so much with my own childhood; or those ‘wonder years’ between the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood, that watching this series was like re-living that tumultuous period of time.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine what growing up now must be like! The world of the late sixties and early seventies was so different from today, yet there certainly are many similarities! War, pollution, social inequality, political corruption, corporate control of our lives; in a way not that much has changed except technology! Our world is an exaggerated version of that period. It’s like a lot of what we feared back then has just gotten worse. Maybe the ‘Revolution’ was just postponed for another generation. Another kind of social awakening may be dawning, and maybe this time we’ll get it right? God, I hope so!
But getting back to ‘The Wonder Years‘, it’s been fun watching it again. And my kids are watching it with me, and they are really enjoying the show! Even my six-year-old. They get to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement, the Viet Nam War, Watergate, the Apollo Program and the moon landings. But the themes of the series are also timeless, universal ones: the awkwardness of adolescence, the complexities of social interaction, sibling rivalry, young romance, and just trying to bridge that confusing chasm between childhood and maturity.
But I also realize once again what a wonderful childhood I had, despite the fact that both my parents died by the time I was 16. Those years in my life that ‘The Wonder Years’ depicts are the last years I had with my parents; and despite everything, I have so many beautiful memories to relive when I watch this TV show. With every episode I vividly reconnect with that gawky kid that I was when life was so simple and intense, and everything lay before me. Just like it is now with my own beautiful children.
I guess all we can do is try to make our kids ‘Wonder Years’ as wonderful and loving as mine were!
And finally, I’ll end with a brief poem I just scribbled down:
Half light, gray light
November morning warm despite
the drifting leaves and Winter’s coming
geese in flight and pale sun strumming
enchanted chords from deep below
arise from stillness, swell and grow.
That ageless child who stirs beneath
reaches up past joy or grief
an ancient youth; a bygone king
dreams within the heart of Spring
to fly beyond the misty avenues of time
and sing of Nature’s elemental rhyme
where birth and dying; bud and leaf
are contained within each moment brief;
the shining sword within the sheath.