Caught in the Web of Time

autumn-1072827_960_720As the leaves turn, the sky changes, and school begins anew it always brings back childhood memories for me. Think of the autumns  you lived through. If you keep even the most erratic form of a diary or calendar books, you have some perspective. Have you changed? We scrutinize ourselves for lines or spots or receding hairlines, clothes that now tug, or shoes that don’t fit, but what about the INSIDE? Have you really changed over the years  – your dharma  – the essentials that make you, you?

Twenty years ago, when I was exploring why some people age so well and others don’t, I learned from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study that in aging we actually just enhance our essential selves. Hard wiring gets more fixed — though we create many more offshoots. That means that two 75-years olds are far different from one another than they would have been at age 18.  Nonetheless, the curious person becomes more curious; the grouchy one, more grouchy.

One advantage of the World Wide Web is to have an easy way back in time. To see the songs and books popular in our youth, the actual facts our memories may condense or blur. OMG is it REALLY 55 years since Marilyn Monroe died? Ah, i THOUGHT it was a Sunday when I was born! But had forgotten that the Berlin Wall was erected overnight in 1961.

Long-term memory remains even as we forget the name of the person we just met ten minutes ago. So although the Web is fantastic for instant facts and data, it’s more fun to try to name all the presidents with their vice presidents throughout your lifetime without any assistants, screen or Siri.

I’m astounded at the memories our older learners at Generations on Line recall. And very happy to provide them with onscreen instructions for those lapses in the unimportant though useful thoughts, such as how to make the @sign for an email address.

Here’s to autumn, to happy memories, to perspective, to hard wiring, and to the World Wide Web – whose first website was posted in 1990! (I had to look that up!)

 

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