Recently I watched the movie Midnight in Paris (2011). I’m not a Woody Allen junkie but this one fascinated me. The main character Gil, played by Owen Wilson, is an aspiring writer who admires the “Lost Generation” artists from 1920’s Paris. In the movie, Gil finds himself transported to that era where he meets artist greats like Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Gertrud Stein, Pablo Picasso, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although a fiction story, it was amusing to get lost in the story of the Gil and it got me thinking.
What era would I have liked to live in?
There is much to consider in the question and answers can be surprisingly personal. I’ve asked this question many times to friends and you get a lot of different answers.
Women quite often bring up that era’s rights of women first. An old female friend of mine said that she wouldn’t want to live in any other era than now because women have never had so much opportunity. I never thought of that before she brought it up. My wife in particular always wishes she were in the Jane Austen Victorian Era with the beautiful dresses, chivalry, and beautiful dialogue (no pressure on me, huh). My mother is fascinated by the Tudors (yes the show as well) but never would have wanted to wear the suffocating dresses or have to deal with lack of modern medicine.
Most men I’ve quizzed seem to be fascinated by eras that represent the greatest adventure to them. If you were a baseball fan, perhaps it would be the 1920s and 1930s when Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig ruled the diamond. If you admired the military, they say World War II, The Civil War, or the Napoleonic Wars. My father has always been intrigued by his grandfather who lived from the 1880’s to 1980’s. His Grandpa Moberg was born during the “horse and buggy” age and lived until seeing a man on the moon.
And now my answer…
The Age of Exploration is a favorite of mine. But then I remember details about explorers like Magellan who despite technically not making it around the world (killed by Filipino natives), ironically got a GPS system named after him. The truth is, his story wasn’t much different from other explorers who either died in the middle of their journey fighting natives or from some terrible disease. I’ve also been fascinated by the Roman Empire or Ancient Greece and their gallant expansion battles, beautiful architecture, and lessons of government. Perhaps I read/watched a little too much of Julius Caesar and The Iliad. If I were to pick a favorite, I would pick The American Revolution. I imagine myself fighting for freedom with my distant relative, Vermont Minuteman Lt. Nathaniel Bowman Brown. It has always seemed to be a time period of great drama; to live on the frontier, fight for freedom, and form of a new way of life.
The truth is, as Midnight in Paris’ Gil points out, someone is going to be asked this question fifty years from now and possibly think that “the 2010’s” is the best era. We are never quite satisfied in the era we live are we? We look back to find solace and inspiration from other eras. I’m sure that ole Uncle Nate Brown looked back to The Renaissance and thought, “Man, that era was so much better than this 1770’s mess.”
What about you?
What is the best era in history to live?