Each generation carries its own baggage for better or for worse. Each is affected by outside forces beyond his/her control. Global economics, wars, revolts, evolving technology – each one produces its own effects. Some grow up in rural areas while others have roots in urban life. All of these contribute to who we are and to who we become. These observations are valid regardless of where in the world we reside or call home.
Some years ago I was sitting on a bench in the Peasants’ Museum in Bucharest, Romania. This outdoor folk museum contained artifacts and displays of historical interest in a comfortable forest-like setting. It was almost a park, with walkways winding through the trees, and the displays consisted of farm equipment and ancient living quarters scattered among the groves of trees. It was a pleasant feeling, and the weather was ideal for mid-May.
As I sat there I became aware of a wonderful drama being played out on a nearby bench. Three people were busy being themselves while still interacting with each other. They knew each other well – maybe on occasion too well – and they obviously shared a strong love bond.
The group was composed, I believe, of a grandmother, perhaps mid-seventies or so, her daughter brushing up against fifty, and the granddaughter maybe mid to late teens. All local I’m sure, on holiday, enjoying the place and each other – yet so very different.
The gray-haired oma had certainly been born prior to World War II, perhaps the wife of a Romanian army officer. She had grown up deprived of many material things. Caught in a war which ravished the nation. Perhaps cheered when her country was “freed” by Russian troops, only to find the liberators were more demanding than those they drove out. She had been taught neatness and self-restraint – both of which were reflected in her dress. Stout sensible brown walking shoes projected from her brown stocking-covered legs. A square-cut tweed skirt, topped by a fashionable camel blouse with a white bow at the neck. The slightly off-color blazer gave her warmth. A dark brown kerchief protected her from the wind, and a wooden cane helped her along the uneven paths.
The daughter was a great deal more fashionable. Black hair worn loose showed a touch of added reddish color. Black nylon slacks, well-fitting over a body beginning to bulge. Black shoes with high heels and toes that came to a point well beyond her own feet. A white blouse covered by a black leather jacket. She moved along the path with confidence.
The teen – another story. Bright red t-shirt and a skirt way too short worn over patterned tights. Hair several different colors. Obviously bored by the visit, with cell phone at the ready, a fair gap of skin showed between skirt and blouse. Never still for long.
Each was representing her generation. One a survivor of war – armies marching back and forth through her city. One born under strict communist control, educated in a socialistic environment. Perhaps a protester against Ceausescu and a voice in how it must change. The third conversant in a language unfamiliar to the others – the euro, Facebook, cellphone – a different world. Dress dictated by TV, comfortable with globalization.
Three distinct paths through life, yet bound together by family, by love, and by genes. Today they were leisurely enjoying the sunshine, the togetherness, and the love in this outdoor historical museum.
This tableau could have taken place in almost any of the one hundred and twenty seven countries I have visited. Even our own. Each generation reflecting the environment that they grew up in. It makes one realize that all have much in common, and perhaps in a way that helps us understand what is occurring throughout the world when we read our morning paper.
How funny life is.