Carly Simon was right: These are ‘the good old days’

Let me be up front and say that I enjoy Woody Allen films. That being said, let me urge you to drop what you may be doing and go out and see his new one,  Midnight in Paris.

Rabbi Richard AddressWay beyond the lushness of the cinematography and some very snappy writing is a much more interesting message that slowly emerges in the film. I will spare you the precis except to say that you can look at this movie as a sort of excursion into the fantasy world of longing for some golden past; the “good old days”. Some of us, especially as we age, may fall into this trap of wishing that we could go back to some previous time when things were better, simpler, “easier” or, well, they seemed that way. We often have a tendency to “romanticize” the past, especially when we think that the present is so challenging (and it is!).

Yet, the reality is that we are here, in this time, in this moment and nostalgia is just nothing more than our souls desire to create some fantasy of what we wish the past to have been. In the end of the movie our hero, Gil, chooses to risk listening to his soul and follow his own path. In the end, he uses the past to forge a new present for himself. And that is the way it is supposed to be.

Life, as we get older, certainly gets more complicated and the choices we make take on greater meaning and come with greater consequences. And it is often difficult to take that risk and to follow a dream. However, we cannot go back except in books, or films, or fantasy. We are living in the present and trying to create our future. Our challenge is to make choices for life and truth and faith, choices that allow us to flourish as full human beings. We wake every day to new challenges and are encouraged by our tradition to bless the daily miracles of life. In doing so we can celebrate the day that is before us   and also reflect back to the Carly Simon song, Anticipation, which reminds us that, in many ways, “these are the good old days”.

Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min

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