Thursday, September 13, 2012

'Revolution' Proves You Can't Take It All With You...

When I was a kid, I would go through these phases of wanting to collect every movie or book or doll or whatever just because I felt I "should" have them. In the case of the media, it was because they were classics, and I felt they were necessary to complete any collection. In the case of some of the other things, like toys really early on, I just thought having a lot of things would not only keep me entertained long-term but would also provide a nice sense of history as I got older. But there's an old saying that "you can't take it with you," meaning unless you're King Tut or Luke's weird uncle (Gilmore Girls) or something, you're not going to be buried with all of your worldly possessions; your house can't just be sealed up like a tomb. So as I got older, I began really focusing on the things I chose to keep, versus what I donated or just never bought at all.

Think about what you would grab in a fire. Even if you have more than you could physically carry out, it really tells you something about what you actually value when you look at the answer to that question. But these days, most people would grab laptops instead of family photo albums because they could always print out more photos later-- if they even do that at all. There was a photo in last week's Fall TV Preview Entertainment Weekly issue that offers an even greater challenge, though. A flashback shot from the second episode of Revolution, NBC and Eric Kripke's new post-apocalyptic drama about the entire world losing electricity, showed the Matheson parents walking through a crumbling city with their children and a few prized possessions in tow. And one possession that stuck out the most? A basketball.

Look, I get it: without electricity, there is no need to drag with you big, bulky pieces of technology that would normally get hoarded in short-term blackouts. This family knew the power wasn't coming back on-- not in a day, not in a week, not in a year. They knew it would be futile to hold onto something that would basically just be a really heavy, formerly expensive paperweight. But a basketball? I understand the need to give your kids a childhood even in the most uncertain of tiems (though these kids were presented as technology zombies, so I'd be surprised if they even knew what a basketball was for), but why wouldn't you take up the same amount of room with much more important items, like an extra gallon of water or a pile of clean shirts?

So I started to think about it. I've already put together my "things I'd grab in a fire" list, but I've never seriously thought about an "end of the world" list. Obviously, the practical items, like granola bars and water and dog food, are a given. I'd get my ass to the nearest grocery store and stock up. But what are the physical items I'd want to hold onto-- the ones for which memories aren't enough?

In Revolution, the oldest Matheson child has a lunch box with a few trinkets, like a busted iPod. Whether they came with her from her home or she picked them up along the way, as she does with the postcards that feature old world images of cities, it's unclear. It's probably even irrelevant. The point is, she is clinging to something in the past, probably without even really remembering their importance. 

I'm older. I have a much deeper attachment to my ways and my things. Regardless of intellectually knowing how ridiculous or unnecessary it may be to cart along certain items, that doesn't mean I want to leave them behind to gather dust, get stolen, or someday be found by the new version of archeologists. 

I have a memory box. I've written about it extensively. But the things I'd want to take to a new life can't just fill a shoebox.

The Tamagotchi would have to be included; even though the batteries are long dead now, it represents a key part of my childhood, in addition to the times. My tennis bracelet would come, too; I wear it almost every day already, and it is a reminder of a couple of key people in my life. I'd still probably include Stephen King's "It," as I feel it's a book I could read over and over, and because of the point I'm at in my life, recognize different subtleties. A copy of my own book, mostly to remind myself what was important to me then, to see how much I had to adapt. My prescription sunglasses (I assume I won't be able to get another pair of those without electricity). Madison's favorite toy. My favorite stuffed animal from when I was a kid (yes I still have it). My baby blanket. My current winter blanket (it's just amazing). A Santa hat because I'll find a way to celebrate Christmas no matter what. My blue leather jacket, my motorcycle boots, my Bloch sneakers, and my Tim Riggins sweatshirt (but those just seem like smart all-terrain and weather options).

I would have to take a DVD with me, even if I could never watch it again, just as a relic of what once was. Friday Night Lights would probably win here, too, but maybe it would be Mean Girls or something from further back in my life, like Camp Nowhere. For historic preservation purposes, I should probably bring along a remote and an iPhone or iPad, but honestly, I kind of don't see the point. I don't think the world should rush back towards that, even if the electricity ever were to come back on. Learn to live more simply, more presently, and we will be a better society.

I probably could go on and on. It says more about me and my inability to let go than anything else. What about you: what would you cart with you into an unknown future, just to teach people about your past?


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