After a rather dismal winter, it’s been a relief to see that Spring is finally making a solid appearance. With the sun shining, a lovely breeze, and temperatures in the upper 70’s, today seemed like a perfect day to enjoy an outdoor lunch. Well, in all honesty it was an outdoor lunch under a very large umbrella, but until scientists invent a sunblock that keeps my translucent skin from burning after 10 minutes in direct sunlight I’ll just have to make do with cautiously watching the sun from the safety of the shade. I settled in with a good book and a salsa-drenched salad (the only Q’doba food I can safely consume during Passover) and enjoyed a tranquil meal.
For about five minutes.
That was about how long it took for the gaggle of teenagers who had been in line behind me to make their way to an adjacent table. In general, I try to refrain from “kids these days” rants, because I know that maturity (as its definition suggests) does take time. Plus I still enjoy some things thought to be juvenile, such as video games and violent slasher movies (just to name a few), and I think that the world could benefit from people taking themselves less seriously from time to time. That being said, listening to these kids talk over lunch made me want to bang my head against the metal patio furniture.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Bob Dylan (I’m halfway through Chronicles, Volume One and it’s fantastic) but their empty conversation really got my blood boiling. The topic that got them most excited? Discussing some girl who likes to carry chocolate-covered pretzels around in her purse and musing over how sour patch kids would be a much more normal and desirable option because, “If the sugar gets all over your things you can just lick it off.” As they were getting up to leave one girl dared to dip her toe in the current events water and asked her friends what a “Chechan” was. She was informed that it was probably someone from “Checha.” Where is that? “I dunno, a city in Russia or something.”
A passage I read while listening to this drivel seemed eerily relevant to how I was feeling:
“A lot was changing in America. The sociologists were saying that TV had deadly intentions and was destroying the minds and imaginations of the young- that their attention spans were being dragged down. Maybe that’s true but the three minute song also did the same thing. Symphonies and operas are incredibly long, but the audience never seems to lose its place or fail to follow along. With the three minute song, the listener doesn’t have to remember anything as far back as twenty or even ten minutes ago. There’s nothing you have to be able to connect. Nothing to remember.”
I’m not going to rail against technology. I love technology. I would probably trample your grandmother in a race for a free iPad (although I would certainly have great respect for any granny hip enough to want one). However, I still believe that it’s important to get in touch with the real, with the visceral, with the raw. My generation, and the generation following, seems to have lost touch with what it means to create. They don’t have enough of an attention span to absorb their surroundings, process them, interpret them, and understand the significance of the experience. Unemployment is driving me mad, but I’m still grateful to have this free time for introspection. The way things are going in the world today we all could use a slap in the face, either literally or metaphorically, to wake us up and get our pulses racing again.
So, in a way, I’m glad these teenagers invaded my ears today. It has reminded me how passionate I am about my writing and about my art, and how crucial it is for me to reconnect with my creative self. It also taught me the socially appropriate candy to stow in my purse, but I guess that’s more of a secondary lesson.