I’m old-fashioned. It doesn’t take much skill to discern that fact. I used to want to teach in a one-room schoolhouse, and there was also my desire to live without electricity. Among my possessions, I still have the very worn-out sunbonnet I had as a child. Well, time machines aren’t real, and I never did get to teach school in a one-room schoolhouse back in the days of Laura Ingalls. The privilege of living without electricity was also not to be mine- a fact for which I am now grateful. It sounds idyllic and fun in theory, but in reality, I like being able to switch a light on if I wake up before dawn. I am very fond of running water and indoor plumbing as well. Yet, even though as an adult I can see the impracticality of trying to live behind the times, I have not lost my love of things old-fashioned.
“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” -J.R.R. Tolkien
I was listening to a podcast recently, and one of the hosts only seldom reads books written by authors that are currently alive. It may sound silly to many people, but I also find that many times, the books that are best are the old ones. As the world becomes more and more modern, our language has grown less sophisticated and beautiful. Kids say, “Whatev. Legit. IDK.” Without Autocorrect, many people wouldn’t even be able to spell half decently. I like books that use big words and complicated sentences- meaty books that stretch your mind rather than the ones that are written for today’s adults on a fifth grade reading level. I’m talking about great authors like Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Harold Bell Wright, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lloyd C. Douglas. I am beginning to feel that there are many other old books I should read also, classics that I have not exposed myself to. The possibilities are vast. I appreciate old books, as in, books that have been well-loved, the kind where the covers are worn and the pages are noticeably aged. They have a beauty different from the beauty of a fresh, crisp book from Barnes and Noble. Believe me, I do like new books, but old books can be appreciated in a way that new books cannot.
My taste in clothes is often decidedly vintage. My wardrobe is rather haphazard at the moment, and it most certainly is not one of those ideal situations where each item is purposefully chosen. Maybe someday… If I could construct a wardrobe heedless of practicality and cost, there would be linen and adorable retro style dresses for starters. Some lace certainly would be a must, not overdone, you understand, but a touch here and there. I find it unfortunate that crinolines ever went out of fashion. No, they probably weren’t very practical, but I think they were charming, very feminine and beautiful. My sister and I did an impromptu photo shoot recently, and I went armed with a shawl, a hat, a book, and high-heeled boots. She thought I was a little weird. Well, maybe more than just a little weird. I will admit my tastes are rather odd in this comfort-crazed day in fashion, but that’s okay.
Modern art is not for me. I like the picturesque, other era paintings, like “Young Girl Reading,” done by Jean-Honore Fragonard. Those pictures that depict a woman in the garden picking flowers or a woman with her baby in times long gone are the kind of pictures that are likely to capture my attention. “Breakfast in Bed,” by Mary Cassatt, is adorable. There is something about the simple beauty of women in a time when the woman was primarily a wife and mother that is synonymous with my beliefs and values.
In the movie world, I also tend to gravitate toward those stories that tell of life in England or America long ago. The 2009 BBC version of “Emma,” with Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai is so good. I watched and rewatched and rewatched that movie. “Pride and Prejudice” starring Colin Firth is epic. “Little Women,” PBS 2017, is so well done. If you’ve read previous blog posts of mine, you’ll also know that I am a fan of Middle Earth and the Peter Jackson LOTR movies. I suppose those don’t really fit in the genre of the other movies I mentioned, but still, it tells of a different time in a non-modern world. Yes, I admit I sometimes get the urge to watch a lame Hallmark movie, with a predictable plot line, but I do not consider those to be masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination. Except (there’s always an exception) “The Bridge,” based on the book by Karen Kingsbury. I didn’t really like the book much after watching the movie; it was one of those instances where the movie is actually way better than the book. That is a modern-day movie, which I really loved. It had me all inspired to start a bookstore! But then again, consider- a movie that focuses on a bookstore plus romance- how could I not love it?
Does anyone else love sealing wax? I do. Or letters? There’s nothing else quite like a hand-written letter. Text messages just don’t compare. For centuries, news was exchanged using the simple method of writing words on real paper and sending the missile off to be delivered to the party concerned. Why, oh why, was it not sufficient? Why do humans forever have to be “improving” on the old tried and true methods? What could be more romantic than love letters, with perhaps a rose pressed between the pages. Okay, now I’m dreaming… Honestly though, would you rather receive a text saying, “Wud u go out with me Fri night?” or a letter addressed to Miss _____, asking if it would be agreeable to the young lady to accept an invitation to dinner? Tastes may differ, but I know which sounds more romantic. It’s not the text message.
Let’s not rush throwing away those old books, those old styles, even those old ideas. New is not always better. Sometimes, in our haste to run from the old, we throw away valuable, timeless wisdom and peace. Take, for instance, the matter of faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is a belief that has been around for 2000 years, and long before that, there was the expectation of the Messiah, the belief that He would come. Yes, to some people, faith sounds outdated. But tell me, has our world grown kinder and more at peace in this age of science and godlessness? Much has been lost in rejecting faith. Before you scoff at and throw away the old things, consider what will be lost when they are gone.
You don’t need to be a lover of old books or vintage clothes. That kind of life isn’t for everyone. But do yourself a favor. Don’t run to the newest ideas and the latest in technology, the most modern house on the street and the most recent fad in apparel. Search for the beauty that is to be found in that which has aged well, in the things which have “stood the test of time.”