Whatever Happened to “All The Old Familiar Places”?

So many places that held meaning for me are gone. A red two story house on a hill where we lived when I was five. The old Logansport one room schoolhouse I went to in the first grade. A farmhouse isolated from neighbors, roads, and noise when I was in the fifth and sixth grades. The house we lived in from the time I was 12 until I left for college. A large copper smelter where I spent nearly a decade, scrapped from the face of the earth.

Other places, not gone but forever changed. A house where we lived in the first through fourth grades, still there, but dilapidated and falling down. The grade school, abandoned, my high school campus, also abandoned for a “newer” one. Where I want to college, the main building “renovated”, and the dorm now co-ed. (Well there was some of that 45 years ago, but it was illegal.) Even the Student center, “The Den” at college now given to storage.

Impermanence today is a fact of life, as the Devourer, the Corporation State, knows no reverence for anything but money. It only knows immediate utility, whether for places or for human beings. It knows only profit and power, i.e. Mammon.

Some will say, you should get rid of your old car and buy a new one, you should get rid of your old home and buy a new one, you should get rid of your old spouse and buy a new one. If you ask them, “Why?” they are dumbfounded. They cannot speak for, to them, the constant churn of “creative destruction” is normative and unchallengeable.

It is very difficult to carve out a space for the private things, the permanent things, the holy things of life. Politicians of all stripes decry any but the immediate objective. Business has surrendered the notion of reciprocal loyalty with employees and regards them as “fungible assets”. Marketing urges you to abandon whatever is dear and to live forever out of pocket (and claim virtue calling it “simplicity”.) We are urged by “life coaches” to declutter our lives, and retain only what is of instant utility, including spouses, children, and aging relatives.

But, make a space, and a place, and a time we must. As individuals and as society. Or there is little hope the smashed shards of civilization can be rebuilt.

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