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How to Reclaim a Sense of Wonderment: An Elderly Perspective

By Bob Reyer 

A recent essay here at Talking Comics, the insightful “How to reclaim a sense of wonderment” by Brian Verderosa, prompted me to reflect on how thoroughly jaded we’ve become regarding new experiences in this current age of social media, instant communication, and sensory overload.

It’s much trickier to avoid being blasé about a comic, novel, album, or film when every fibre of it’s being is examined in minute detail; dissected and previewed ad nauseum on the internet or on TV chat shows. In too many ways, we are over-informed, and left with nothing to delight us in it’s surprise.

With both media companies and media outlets combining to create this situation, it’s un-imaginable that even a personage as revered as Alfred Hitchcock could pull off his “Psycho” gambit of forbidding entry to the theatre after the film had begun in order to preserve a major plot point, or more recently, that the climax to “The Sixth Sense” remained a secret as long as it did. We here at Talking Comics strive to be spoiler-free, sometimes on projects decades-old, so as not to add to the background noise, but in an era where so many of our entertainments appear to be “crafted” by marketing departments, focus groups and corporate bean-counters, it’s quite natural to feel as if you’re part of a Pavlovian experiment, reacting reflexively as a pre-conditioned response, without any thought or passion.

Well, that’s just bollocks! There are things we can do as individual consumers, and as thinking human beings, to combat the malaise that affects so many of us, and that Mr. Verderosa describes so eloquently.

When you’re very young, the simplest things can be a source of amazement: a trip to the ball game, a praying mantis hiding in the bushes, the sound of an ice cream truck in the distance. If you can recapture that child-like sense of awe and anticipation, while maintaining an adult’s intelligence and emotional maturity, there’s hardly a better place to be.

In the realm of media products, I’m not an advocate for losing the ability to be critical, nor am I advising you to excuse or accept mediocrity; after all there’s a lot of junk out there (see Sturgeon’s Law—“90% of everything is crap!”), but on first viewing/reading, turn off your “critic’s brain” and just absorb; don’t make a decision based on someone else’s opinion (mine included!), but instead, utilize the stunning scads of information available to make sure that you’re not completely wasting your time and money, and then approach the book, movie, etc. as a tabula rasa. Don’t pre-judge before you’ve even seen or read the sodding thing!

(I’ve being told by little Audrey to knock off the profanity—sorry.)

Seriously though , while marching through the calendar pages, I’ve learned that it’s imperative to try to retain the little girl or boy within you; to allow yourself the luxury of enjoyment without undue expectations.

Be of an open mind about all genres and categories. Don’t dismiss anything out-of-hand simply because “I don’t like so-and-so”. Duke Ellington was asked what his favorite kind of music was: “There are only two kinds—good or bad”. Find the good in whatever form works for you.

Be a “gourmet” by cultivating your cultural palate, and be sure to embrace the past, so as to understand the present, but look at these older works with knowledgeable, yet fresh eyes and find the simpler joy of a Golden Age comic, a silent film, or a Billie Holiday 78. Remember, if you eat too much spicy food, you’ll lose your taste for crème brulee.

There’s an old song– “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think”. Trust me in this—the years roll on too quickly to waste time being cynical or jaded. Passion is the key to overcoming ennui, so be smartly, yet even-handedly critical in your judgments, but give yourself an opportunity to be astounded by the wonderment of it all.

AFTERWORDAs a side-bar (but it’s actually more important), apply this newly restored passion to the personal, as well. Search for, and expect the good in everyone—it’s better to have people disappoint you, than to exist in a state of perpetual inner disquiet.   rrr

 

 

Bob was rocketed to Earth as an infant after his parents were scared by a huge bat! Landing on an island of Amazons, he was injected with the super-soldier serum and sent into space where he was bombarded with cosmic rays! This might explain his love for…

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