“Don’t be afraid to add some color to your life”…I think to myself looking around at all the beige walls. Then I laugh because the first thing we wanted to do was paint the one red wall grey. Red, white and grey…
Shades of grey are colors in my childhood eyes. Sitting with an HB pencil coloring my world in shades of grey. A generation ago I ran from the school bus to catch Gilligan’s Island on the TV…in black and white. That was the theatre of circa 1975 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. There was a time before CSI and reality TV when it wasn’t real on purpose, when television was an escape from reality, from the snow drifts at -40 (celsius or fahrenheit…they meet at -40 is a fact of life every kid knows who went to kindergarten the year they changed the speed limit signs to 100. That was also the year every kid knew the Batmobile could go 100. Somehow it didn’t seem as fast after that.) The Calgary Tower was the tallest building ever, driving out to Pike Lake was a vacation, phones had spinners, and more often than not you could hear the wind outside and see the snowdrifts rise and fall. Clocks turned more slowly then…I wish I could prove it to you because it’s true…and the choices of a six-year-old were; climb one of the big poplars, drive Tonka trucks in the sand pile out back, or maybe go explore the fence line around our acreage. The prairies have colors, I guess, but in my little life they were all shades of grey and winter white, lots of white.
A thousand miles and a lifetime away…that’s 1600km, the rain is falling mid-November and the snow-line is somewhere near mid-mountain on Whistler not so far above us. The GPS on my Android phone can tell me, well, just about anything I can ask or imagine, in color, nearly two whole generations of Canadians have never been to war, and the ever-waking Facebook consciousness of generation-i has effectively melted generations into an ageless social cyber space existence. When I was a kid I literally climbed a tree to see how far I could see…and carved my name up there with a Jack knife while I was at it. Kids today wouldn’t dare have a knife, but log into the internet like there’s nothing else to do while their parents load games and DVD’s into their iPhones to keep the kids busy while they shop (I know you’re doing it, I own a store remember), and when they are old enough, 12 or 13 or so, they create blog sites to talk about their own parents.
Rewind…when I was a kid I had a Jack knife, a motorcycle, a bow and arrow (yes, a real one), a single shot air rifle and I knew how to use it (just ask the neighborhood kids I didn’t like or that dog that wouldn’t stop barking next door), our parents told us not to come back in until dinner time and the world was a safer place. Right? I know, I know, if I gave my son those things today we’d be talking to the police by lunch time but I think you get the picture.
Fastforward a decade…by the time I was a teenager I bought a car and I could drive it (at 14 in Alberta) and any motorcycle by the time I was 16. What else? I could shoot my 22 rifle and a single shot target pistol with deadly accuracy, I could get my nose broken in a fight outside the hockey arena because some local idiot didn’t like my jacket, VCR’s and cable TV were in every home…and we did a few other things that will go unmentioned…and then in 1982 a girl who worked at the local convenience store in our town was abducted and killed (RIP Laurie) and the world was no longer safe. Period.
That was the turning point. I knew it then when the calm of the early morning walk to basketball practice on dark winter mornings was lost to the unfamiliar fear of the world outside our rural life. I know it now looking back because the turning point was when people could have so many things in their homes, on demand, to rewind and record and replay, and live somewhere in their minds outside the little world we grew up in…they could have so many things that weren’t just an escape to Gilligan’s Island, they were real.
Maybe less is more. Yes, here I am, and when you click on my site I won’t apologize that there are no ads, no videos streaming, no music, no scrolling updates…just pictures and words. Then again, like Jim Morrison said, “Why don’t you change your name? It’s just a word.” I think we’ll paint more grey. I like grey.