Do you know those eras in your life that seem to be effortlessly happy? Obviously the overwhelming majority of them happen between our early teens and our late twenties, given the natural vicissitudes of Growing Repsonsibility®, and my favorite occurred as I was 19, in 1986.
To me, the music, styles, movies and anything associated with that stretch of time automatically conjures a reptilian pleasure response – and yes, I’m talking bizarre bits of culture like “Something About You” by Level 42, “Real Genius”, the random songs on “Graceland”, Mary Stuart Masterson in “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and of course, the entire 2nd side of “The Queen is Dead” by the Smiths.
I was also drinking a lot of lime-flavored Crystal Light (yeah, yeah) and had peanut M&M’s in our dorm-room fridge in Grimes. And a favorite shirt, a teal short-sleeve polo that was perfectly ragged in that looks-good-but-I-didn’t-care-TOO-much sort of way. I have a visceral memory of that micro-era, and it has aged magnificently.
There is a 19-year-old kid having his Perfect Time right now, a group of albums, movies, YouTube videos, green skate shoes and iTunes mixes that will forever give him pleasure. He will think of 2010, and have a relaxing sense of contentment many years from now, when “Poker Face” comes on the oldies station and he tries to explain the zeitgeist to his own kid.
And then it struck me that these little eras are not created for us, we create them. Sure, there is the excitement of new girlfriends, boyfriends, school and life discovery that brings these things on, but is it possible to say to yourself: “okay, I have not been effortlessly happy in a long time. If this era can be someone else’s Awesome Year, why can’t I make it mine again as well?”
And then just decide, then and there, to imbue this time, right here, with the same general good feeling as the ones you used to have. “This period, this micro-epoch, this elongated season will be defined as fun, whether it has intrinsic perfectness or not,” you may say. The world does not change for you; you change for it, and since your feelings are mostly illusions painted on the plexiglass surrounding you, why not play its game? Barring a chemical imbalance, how long can you fake a good year before it becomes a good year?