“Everything Old is New Again”

Commentary

But there’s “good” old and “bad” old – which will it be in 2021?

(A version of this story will appear in the March 2021 issue of the Valencia Palms monthly magazine, “The Breezes.”)

As many readers know, I’m also a regular contributor to my community’s monthly magazine, The Breezes. Each month, contributing writers and photographers are asked to submit articles and/or photos that reflect the magazine’s monthly theme. For example, the theme for February issue was “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.” My article was was about how I fell in love with Broadway musicals (embedded here):

The theme for March is “Spring: Everything Old is New Again!” To assist in getting potential contributors’ creative juices flowing, the editor provided some thematic suggestions:

The butterflies emerging in the current season are a duplication of metamorphosis of seasons past, but how about all of us? Will March bring changes in our lives to allow us to return to the ‘old’ activities? How would you like your life to be in the coming season? Would you like the old life back or do you have a new vision for your future?

Boy was I stuck. For over a week! And then it hit me. I’m wasn’t even sure what the expression “Everything Old is New Again” really means to me. But then I figured it out and the words flowed. I’d like to share those words with you.

What is the “Good” Old?

About a year ago I wrote a story for The Breezes titled, “Spring Is in the Air – Bringing Baseball with It.”

Little did we know then what a year it would be.

Baseball came, but not in a way we expected. Nothing in 2020 happened in a way we expected. By the time you read this we’ll be three months or so into 2021. After the “annus horriblis” of 2020, how is 2021 working out so far? And, how will we be reflecting on how it worked out when we look back next January? Since I’m writing this in early February and don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t answer those questions. But I can virtually guarantee one thing – if we act in “new” 2021 like we acted in “old” 2020, 2021’s “new” will not be an improvement. If, however, we learned from our experiences; if we embrace the common good, we might begin to come close to a better “new” 2021.

It might make sense to put the phrase, “Everything old is new again,” into context. Many believe it is derived from the Old Testament, specifically Ecclesiastes 1:9:

What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.

For others the introduction to the phrase came from the hit ‘70’s song of the same name:

Don’t throw the past away,

You might need it some rainy day;

Dreams can come true again

When everything old is new again.

There is probably a strong temptation, at least when it comes to 2020, not to heed some of these admonitions. Surely, 2020 is a past that deserves “throwing away.” It was a year, we hope and pray, that was done, but will never “be done again.”

Perhaps as we progress through an uncertain 2021, we can look to both Ecclesiastes and Carole Bayer Sager (the song’s lyricist) to assist us (with due respect to both the Bible and Ms. Bayer Sager):

If what has been again will be,

From that past we’ve learned, you see;

If nothing’s new under the sun,

At least the “good” old should drive 2021.

And what is the “good” old?

Despite the disruption and dislocation of the pandemic; despite all the mishandling, the missteps and missed opportunities; despite the lack of coordination and cooperation, we did learn some things about our country and about ourselves – we learned what I’m calling the “good” old. We learned that if we work together; if we’re all on the same page; if we heed expert advice and not rely on rumor and misrepresentations; if we set rules that everyone follows, we can throw away the “bad” old and embrace the “good;” we can begin that long, hard journey to pre-2020 normalcy.

So, which “old” will be “new” again? The one we did or the one we learned? It’s up to us. For all our sake, I sincerely hope that we make the right decision.

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy.

6 thoughts on ““Everything Old is New Again”

    1. Thanks Ted, for your thoughtful, philosophical, passionate, and always entertaining look at ‘life in the 20th, and now 21st century’…hey, it’s where we are, what we got. So I hope you and your cohort will please indulge me a bit…

      You suggest that “If…we learned from our experiences; if we embrace the common good, we might begin to come close to a better ‘new’ 2021.” In that regard, Sir Winnie unhappily, but accurately observed that:

      “Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.”

      Although my cynicism often leaks through, I’m really an unabashed optimist. My wife Nancy (she worried) would often bring up a ‘life situation’, one fraught with complications and stones in the road, and my response was normally “Don’t worry, it will all work out.”

      “How do you know it’ll work out?, she’d challenge.

      “Because it always works out.”

      I learned over our 30+ years, though accurate, that wasn’t an acceptable answer, so began to write up a ‘one pager’ of whatever the circumstances were, and a few thoughts about how to deal with them. That seemed to satisfy her…until the next ‘catastrophe’. 😉 Here, I should invoke a bit of Mark Twain:

      “I’ve known a great many troubles in my lifetime. Fortunately, most of them never happened.”

      Applies perfectly to our (and now my) life.

      You’ve suggested that “2020 is a past that deserves ‘throwing away’ ”…but George Santayana reminded us that…

      “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

      You point to the “journey to pre-2020 normalcy.” I’m afraid that ‘reality is not repeatable.’ This is the ‘new abnormal’.

      The ‘continuum of life’ often finds us in situations that ‘look similar’ to previous ones, but are really a little (a lot?) different. The big question is can we just this one time, prove Churchill wrong, and ‘learn from our experiences.’ My fear is ‘this’ will take us at least a generation to get over, get through.

      I know many of us (Americans) would like to sweep this whole mess under the carpet, forget about it, and move on. In that regard, I recall a line (maybe from the est Training) that might apply:

      “Looking at the bad stuff…is the good stuff.”

      I guess this is one of those moments in time where we will inevitably find out how civilized we humans really are…particularly now because we’re confronted with so many existential threats to our lives…our country…the planet. 😦

      Thanks for your patience…is it martini time yet? 🍸 🙂

      Like

  1. As the great philosopher Horshack once opined, “ What is, is. What was, will be. What will be WAS but will be again.

    Sent from my iPhone

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    1. I’m so happy you saw the error of your ways and modified your description of Horshack with “the great.” Frankly, I’m amazed. I didn’t think there were any followers of the great Horshack’s philosophical musings left. Alas, as it was written, “Where have you gone Arnold Horshack, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

      Like

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