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Why Is It Easier to Appreciate Things, With Time?

Surely I am not the first person to notice that he can now appreciate things that he used to yawn at, or even positively dislike. Perhaps it really is true that 'it is a shame that Youth is wasted on young people..."

For example, the other day I came back from a tour of a historic ranch, in arid Arizona, and rewatched the movie, "Jean de Florette." I liked it the first time I saw it, 30 (!) years ago. But this time I was cooing with pleasure. How do you explain this?

The movie is easy to like -- despite being French: dry rural scenery in southern France, farms and old stone buildings, a musical score inspired by Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" a beautiful girl, and a depiction of a different way to live, about a century ago. Even the story was pretty good, which is the last thing you have a right to ask from a movie.

But such things were true 30 years ago when it was made, and when I first watched it. So what has changed? Earlier in the day, two RV friends and I had visited a historic ranch that dates back to the Arizona territory. It was located in the remarkable "Palouse" of southeastern Arizona. It tries my patience to take an official tour with a docent. Just isn't my style.

We were surrounded by vast grasslands of scrawny and tawny grass. The day was unusually hot for this time of year. Thank goodness there was a working water pump available. The ranch was situated near a soggy bosque of huge cottonwood trees -- los alamos, in Spanish. They are the great water-sponges of the Southwest.

The supreme importance of water sank into my head during this tour. Later, it drastically enhanced my appreciation of "Jean de Florette", since the scarcity of water was an important part of the plot.

Even better, my RV friends were city slickers-turned-agriculturists. (Notice I did not say, 'hobby farmers.') This added another layer to my appreciation, because the main character in the movie had some things in common with them.

We could say that this higher level of appreciation proves that 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.' But that is too easy. Instead, let's invoke a word that is seldom used, difficult (but fun) to pronounce, and which expresses a beautiful idea: autochthonous. Used here, it means we can think of appreciation of this movie as a plant that grows from the soil of travel experience, and watered by a natural (if austere) beauty, discomfort, and friends bringing something new to the party.

More generally, as we grow older we draw on deeper aquifers of experience. The result is a better appreciation of many things.


Ed said…
Very nice postcards neighbor! The written word was good as well but since you post so few postcards I thought I would stroke the ego a little.

We are having the usual crazy spring in southeastern Arizona are we not? I bet you we return to winter before summer.
Yes, I too bet on a winter revanche.

Every now and then I feel pity for readers because I am hitting them with uninterrupted prose, and throw a little eye-candy out there.
XXXXX said…
Exceptionally well written. I think you were trying extra hard not to be obscure this time. LOL. Using water words throughout while you were talking of water is nothing short of poetic. "Deeper aquifers of experience" hit the jackpot.
BUT, not sure that it is aging that gets the credit for your experience of deepening appreciation. Sounds like you had almost a magical combination of things present that enhanced the situation.
Getting older also has the opposite effect, you know. It has been said that we get set in our ways and our attitudes as we age and these attitudes can be very negative indeed.
Yes, people are said to get set in their ways as they age. But I blame sodden domestic (or work-related) routines for that.

"Magical combination..." Yes, this is the first time that has happened to enhance my appreciation of a movie. It has happened a couple times for books, and I've posted about it.