Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The Times They are a-changing"

Nanny, me, Jim and Tom
A great woman, my grandmother, Giovanna Boeri Fagioli, aka Nanny, once said to me: Everything changes but nothing is ever different. At the time, I was about 7 or 8 years old staying with my aunt and uncle for a few weeks in the summer. My grandmother lived with them.

She had come over from Italy as a young woman and met my grandfather, Chelso, in New York City. She said she'd left her village because she didn't like the hard work of the farm but I suspect after her husband died of a brain aneurism in his 40s, leaving her alone in the Bronx with my father and his two sisters, she worked as hard as any farmhand ever had.

What Giovanna was telling me as we sat in the living room of my uncle's house, both of us pretending not to listen to my uncle admonish my older cousin for running up the bill on the Amex card, was that the struggles are always the same.  To be human, to be a parent or a child, to be a friend or a coworker--those human experiences remained the same, though the surroundings and time frame might change. That so-called gap between generations has always existed, but with patience and time, it always closes. Or a rift between cultures might look enormous but with a closer look, it is but a hairline fracture, barely noticeable.

Nanny Giovanna's comment about change or lack there of has always stayed with me and it found its way into the novel, Your Own Kind.

Below is an excerpt.

Then there were the hippies. The ones who thought they had it all figured out when they ventured through the mountains and stopped at the general store, but all they every brought with them was life--the same life that existed in Owl's Head. Grandma Anne would recall her own youth whenever one  of those young women came into the store. She'd look down at her great-granddaughter and say something like: "every thing changes my dear, but nothing is ever different," to which Sarah, just a small child at the old woman's side, would agree to with a nod. But Sarah didn't really believe it as she looked in awe at the flowers in the young woman's hair or the smooth string of beads that disappeared into the neckline of her flowing dress, a dress that ended at the wooden slats of the floor with dirty toes peeking from under the ragged hemline. To Sarah, this was different--very different. 

Bob Dylan's song, The times they are a-changing, from 1964, speaks of a generational, political and cultural divide.  It could have been written about the world today or much of history before Dylan's time. It's a timeless philosophy.

Instead of staring down at any gaps that might exist between us, let's build as many bridges as we can for as long as we are able. Let's embrace the passage of time and celebrate our life!

Bob Dylan's song is a classic.  Yes, the times, they are a-changing, but nothing is ever different.
You can enjoy the song on:  YOUTUBE

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