Aging is one of life’s most bizarre processes.
When you’re a kid, all you want is to be an adult. When you’re old, you just want to be younger. And when you’re in middle age, you’re kind of happy but wish you were thinner. With more hair. Or less hair in certain places you never had it before.
Aging is weird.
I’m often reminded of this while watching movies, TV shows or listening to music. That might sound odd, but I’m certainly not alone in this observation.
Despite often being blown off as fluff, pop culture has weight and meaning. This is why “Star Wars” fans look at you as if you’re insane if you tell them you’ve never seen any of the movies.
But what most interests me is how the meaning of pop culture evolves. Something that meant one thing to you 20 years ago might mean something else now. That’s exemplified by a couple of films I recently viewed for at least the 20th time that were in theaters more than 25 years ago.
“Field of Dreams” came out in 1989 when I was 18. I viewed it as an odd yet enjoyable supernatural baseball movie.
Now I see “Field of Dreams” as a movie about a father and a son. Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) has issues with his dad he couldn’t resolve until Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) came into his life. I never picked up on that theme as a teenager. But as a father of two, and as someone who had parental struggles, this film resonates loudly.
“City Slickers” came out in 1991, and it’s a goofy, fish-out-of-water Western comedy. Today, it’s still funny. But Mitch (Billy Crystal) and his friends are in a midlife crisis. In 1991, when Curley (Jack Palance) told Mitch the secret to life is “one thing,” it seemed hokey. Add 28 years of life experience, and that line makes perfect sense.
Nuggets of wisdom can be found in pop culture. Sometimes you just need time to find them.