Depending on where current life finds us, “gettin that feelin’” may mean going forward, sideways or back.
Going forward to “get that feelin’” sounds like youth. In elementary school, look forward to the privileges of being in the 5th grade, then are told to be “be examples of good behavior” to the little kids. We graduate to our first year in middle school, “little kids” once again. Not so easily deceived by “be an example” rhetoric in the 8th grade, we revel in the feeling of being on the top just before we fall to the bottom in high school then in college, and again in entry level jobs upon graduation. Whatever “that feelin’” appeared to be from below, it never really arrives.
Reincarnation is a religious belief. Who am I to say it’s not our eventual lot? In life we go through cycle after cycle of hoping for that feeling as we discover that goal posts move. The joy professional life doesn’t live up to its hype. Vacation cruises deliver less than is promised. Parenting and grandparenting are more work than we can ever imagine.
Going sideways is often an option In the gig economy. A job evaporates so we move to something similar elsewhere. It’s not about feeling but about earning. Where I reside now the economy is so good that people can move from job to job or employer to employer just for the feeling. It isn’t always that way. Now, better paying factory jobs mean that food and customer service positions jobs are filled by people with less experience than in the past. Manufacturing workers get a better feeling, retail customers…, not so much.
Going sideways for the feeling of it is manifest also happens regarding life partners. “Until death do us part” becomes “for so long as it feels good.” For 28 years (1989 to 2017) America’s presidents were “married only once to the same person” types. Since 2017 the man behind the desk in the oval office has been a “gig marriage” guy. Marriages fall apart for many reasons. Sometimes their “temporality” is a blessing to those who are released when they end. Vows, like “Until death do us part”, are, at best, something to refer back to when feelings wane. Vows, though, are not shackles.
The third option to “get that feeling” is to go back. As with reincarnation, who am I to say that it doesn’t work? Some people who retire after 20 or 30 years in the Army go back to where they came from. They may heave a sigh of relief to be home again then discover that the Army has changed them and time has changed home. Folks who left small towns and family ties for higher and professional education go back to work and rear their children near extended family. A recent city profile in The New Yorker about the Northwest Iowa district of congressman Steve King noted and commended this phenomenon.
Life as it is lived often finds us stuck. The feeling isn’t what we want. Long term fixes are unavailable, or too costly. We need more Bruce Springsteen concerts. Thank God, (and thank the Boss), for Youtube, where we can watch them on demand.
David Alexander resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.