Everyone has moments that stick out as clear as day from their lives. When you can get into a deep conversation with someone, and get to the parts of them that truly matter, you might be lucky enough to get a glimpse into those moments that helped define their destiny and made them who they are.
One of mine was the Kent State Killings in 1970. I was twelve years old when it happened and not as consciously aware of my surroundings until the next year, when I woke up for real due to a traumatic event. With my eyes and ears finally open to cruelty, I saw it everywhere and was obsessed with trying to understand it all.
They’ve apparently found possible proof that there was an order to kill students on the Ohio Kent State campus. I’m not sure why it matters now, 37 years later, unless you were there or are related to the students who died.
What the news does for me is bring back a flood of dark memories filled with all the reading I did on what happened on that campus. The onslaught continued with the Vietnam war, Charles Manson murders (my friends and I would spend hours listening to Beatles songs played backwards, hunting for all the “secret” messages), listening to Neil Young (my teenage hero), and in my case, watching many friends die from drug overdoses and car crashes. One of them was my first husband, who died from a combination of drugs, alchohol and driving too fast.
My kids have started to ask questions about him because it represents a mom they never knew. He was gone long before they ever arrived but he’s part of my history and who I am matters to them because it helps them understand themselves on a whole different level.
Is this why we keep going back to the past, even to unsolved mysteries, because we need so badly to understand and accept what’s here now?
Neil Young made a movie and album called “Journey Through the Past” and an album called “Time Fades Away”. For hours I’d sing the last line from his song, “Four dead in Ohio” like a sordid mantra. When I wanted to feel depressed or introspective, which was like, everyday while growing up as a hippie-child, his songs lulled me to that comfy place where all the questions sat in a pile, unanswered.
Why is it that everytime I’m reminded of the past, I look at today, and that pile has grown?
The biggest difference is the Internet. People of all ages have access to each other in ways never believed possible.
If we can have sex online or by phone, why can’t we have peace, too?
When will social media be truly social instead of groups of people who refuse to interact with others?