Another Day in the Country
Connected through storytelling
© Another Day in the Country
My television system is set up so it automatically records some programs I don’t want to miss.
One of those is “Sunday Morning” on CBS. Another is “Saturday Night Live.”
The first keeps me abreast of crucial news and enlightens on subjects in the arts that I’m interested in. The latter usually just makes me laugh as long as I can fast-forward through the musical guests and commercials.
Another program I always have recorded for watching at a later date is “Great Performances” on public television.
Sometimes, they are current happenings. Sometimes, they are programs from the past. When I’m hungry for a bit of culture, they do the trick.
“Great Performances” offers everything from stage plays that I’d never get to New York City to view (and probably couldn’t afford) to award shows like the one I watched Saturday night that was sponsored by AARP.
I must admit that I got into reading AARP magazine after a long period of kicking and screaming.
I didn’t feel old, so why should I be getting this magazine?
It was a little like my sister refusing senior discounts after she turned 55 — or whatever age when the discounts kick in. She didn’t feel, or look, that old, so why admit it?
She eventually got over that phobia, just as I got over avoiding AARP magazine.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that one of the things AARP does in its magazine is give information about what they call “movies for grownups.”
The other night, as I was perusing what was available to entertain myself, I discovered that AARP actually gave out awards, similar to the Oscars, to actors, producers, and screen writers for “movies for grownups.”
I was curious to see what movies AARP had listed in that category.
You, dear reader, are a grown-up (I’m assuming) so here’s a list of movies you might enjoy: “Top Gun Maverick” (which won the AARP movie-of-the-year award), “The Fabelmans,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Woman King,” “Living,” “The Whale,” “She Said,” “Women Talking,” “Triangle of Sadness,” and “The Banshees of Inisherin,” to name a few.
My cousin Keith saw “Top Gun Maverick” and recommended it.
I’ve seen only four of these in this past year and most were viewed at a theater in Salina that I call “our cultural fix,” the Art Cinema.
I call it that because it exclusively features what I would categorize as “movies for grownups.” Theater operators make good choices about the movies they present.
After leaving California behind, my sister and I saw a movie at this theater most weekends for 20-some years — until COVID hit and put a kink in culture.
AARP gave its screen writing award to Kazuo Ishugiro, a Japanese-British novelist with a long list of books to his credit.
In accepting the award, he introduced himself as a storyteller and said, “Exchanging of stories is essential to our well being. We say this is how it feels to me. Can you understand at all what I’m saying? We take part in some connection.”
His comments really resonated with me, because storytelling is what I do in this column every week.
When I suddenly moved back to Ramona (for just a year, I thought) I was very disconnected from everything I’d call normal — even though I still had relatives living in Ramona, even though I had visited this area often as a child and had lived here for the first years of my life.
Actually living in this place once again, as an adult, was like visiting a foreign country.
I yearned for connection to the land, the countryside. But I also needed connection to the people who continued living here in rural America.
So I began writing this column, “Another Day in the Country,” telling you stories from our past, stories in our present, and asking you, in essence, the same question all writers ask, as Kazuo Ishugiro said: “This is how it feels to me. This is what happened. Can you understand? Have you felt this way, too?” and thus establishing some connection.
No matter how reticent or shy or insecure we feel, connection is something we desperately need, will always need, and perhaps, now, need more than ever.
Telling stories to you has provided a connection for me, who often feels like an alien in Ramona.
It has given me a sense of belonging here in Kansas, a feeling of usefulness.
Telling stories to my grandchild has built a connection to this young boy, now becoming a man.
He tells me stories of his experience in high school, how the tennis club had a match in Calistoga and how St. Helena, his high school, came out winners; how the chickens are faring; and how exciting it was to visit the Berkley campus of recently on a field trip.
“Do you know they have 23 libraries on that campus?” he said, “and one is four stories underground?”
We won’t always have the same opinion, or a similar story to tell. Our stories sometimes will be sad, sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing.
They always will be important. Through the telling they always will provide some understanding and insight and encourage compassion and loving kindness.
As we listen to each other, we are joined, fastened, related, affiliated, and connected on another day in the country.