How lovely to get old! Seriously. Age can be a good thing if you use it right. Especially for creative people. The longer you have lived the more you have experienced; the more you have experienced the more stuff you have to say about (and to) the world. Writers grasp the rich variety of good, bad and peculiar that they have witnessed, craft it into words and send it out there, where it can benefit others. Musicians do something similar using notes and chords. The past is a valuable asset. And I don't mean just our own personal past.
I took part in a Medieval banquet in Tiverton during July (The Feast of St James at the Pannier Market) and was delighted to see people entering into the spirit of the past. Most of us wore lavish costumes, and the musicians created a perfect ambience using ancient instruments – bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, tabor, mandolin, Celtic harp (me) - and some instruments I wouldn't attempt to name.
But wherever I looked I also noticed little bits of our modern world creeping in. Without exception the musos used amplification so as to be heard above the excited chatter. And nearly everyone used smartphones to record their memories of the event.
The strange juxtaposition got me thinking. After thousands of years on this planet, humans still produce new songs and new stories every day. This is all the more miraculous when you consider we are limited to only the seven notes of the scale, only the twenty-six letters in the alphabet. What we do is take hold of what’s gone before and refashion it. We would be stupid to ignore the array of music and literature that was popular in years gone by. If it’s stood the test of time, there has to be something worthwhile in it. All writers should read Shakespeare and all musicians should listen to Vivaldi. There’s no doubt we can reach much higher by standing on the shoulders of these and other giants. But our own gathered knowledge, ideas and perceptions will always add that extra something that is unique.
Like the Roman God Janus, we need two heads, one to look back into the past and the other to look forwards into the future. Who knows, perhaps our efforts will be valued by generations to come. We can only hope.