When is the time to be happy?
I don’t know about you, but there are a great many unknowns about aging that frighten me. Questions like: What if I can’t control my body? What if I lose my mental faculties? What if I end up all alone? are so abysmal that they tend to be punched down, whack-a-mole style, just as soon as they pop up.
Paradoxically, the last time questions like these carried any relevance for me was when I was a child. For better or for worse, the old and the young share an inescapable focus on the present. The old because there is no telling how much time they have left, and the young because they have so little concept of time to begin with.
Because of the scary questions, modern society has controlled what it can by compartmentalizing the old and the young, like carrots and peas in a TV dinner. These compartments allow for interaction with their adult caregivers, but not each other. Though we are not any closer to answering the scary questions, the bond between old and young perspectives has been severed. The community that delights in the present has been dismantled, and caregiving adults are left scrambling to approximate it.
About four summers ago, I sat on the front lawn of my sister Evan’s house watching our kids play. She had just been to an estate sale, but instead of regaling me with what she wanted to buy for her new home, she fixated on the former inhabitants’ lives. As she described family photographs she saw, she became overwhelmed with concerns for their present whereabouts. My sister is not really a crier, so this took me by surprise. What followed was a stream of consciousness; hard-forged, well-intentioned, and courageous, on the the state of the elderly in America. She had looked at all the scary questions, turned them over in her hands. She came to believe in a better way.
I now see how that exchange foreshadowed “Present Perfect,” her film about a preschool housed in a nursing home. In addition to my previous post back in Sept, I am honored to submit this perspective alongside ViralNova, NewslinQ and the countless other national news outlets that have resonated with the redemption in this idea; the 380k (and counting) viewers of the Present Perfect trailer since last week, and the 310 donors to the Present Perfect Kickstarter campaign (now a Kickstarter staff favorite).
And maybe one day, when I am of questionable mind, unsound body, and all alone; a little boy with a black eye will bound toward me with a book in hand. He will grab my gnarled fingers, and accept my wrinkled face. We will read and inhabit the present together, and then I will know I am still a person. And just maybe I will have some dim memory of–some residual pride in–the seed of change that is Present Perfect.
I am honored to support this film, and I hope you will too.