Sunday, August 14, 2011

Someone Else's Tomorrow

“All the memories fade, send the ghosts on their way
Tell them they've had their day, it's someone else's tomorrow…”

-from the song Someone Else’s Tomorrow, written and performed by Patty Griffin

Back in the mid-90’s, we lived in Western Montana. It’s a great place. We often question why we ever left and why we don’t move back. (And when it’s 110 in Texas and it hasn’t rained in months, we ask those questions more frequently.) There are a lot of answers to both of those questions and most of them drift into the realm of TMI. We know why we left, but we always had it in our heads that we might move back someday. We’ve gone back several times and we just spent the last week up there. Western Montana is still a great place, but it’s not the same place we left in the 90’s. And for that matter, we’re not the same. Eventually all places become “Someone Else’s Tomorrow”. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. And this truth goes way beyond just places on the map. Change is inevitable and rarely do things change back to the way they were. This is what makes change so difficult.

Which brings me back to Montana. I love Glacier National Park, especially the eastern side. It is spectacular. It used to belong to the Blackfoot Indians. Then the Whiteman took their land. The life today’s Blackfoot lives in places like Browning, Montana is a big step down from how they lived before the whites came and took away their tomorrow. But, to keep things in perspective, the Blackfoot took the land from other Indians and not all that long ago. In the early 1700’s the Blackfoot invaded from the North and chased the Flatheads over the Continental Divide. And in less than 150 years those valleys west of the Divide along with most of Montana and Idaho also became “Someone Else’s Tomorrow” for ranchers, loggers, miners, railroad workers, factory workers, truckers, retirees and most recently the “rich and occasionally famous”. And today there are a lot of multi-million dollar homes for sell at reduced prices. Someone’s dream home will become someone else’s tomorrow.

Texas and the entire Southwest have gone through the same cycle. The Comanche Indians were late comers to the region. When they arrived, life changed dramatically for the Wichitas, Caddos and Tonkowas. Mexico then opened the door to Anglo-Saxon immigrants and everything changed for Mexico and for the Indians. And everything kept on changing, rapidly. Even now, the Texas I grew up in is not the Texas I live in today. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I may well live to see the day when Hispanics once again outnumber Anglos in this state. When the “all bidness” is no longer big business. When there is not enough water to irrigate West Texas cotton and communities can no longer afford to build multi-million dollar high school football stadiums.

Montana and Texas are just blips on the map of world history. When one looks at the bigger picture, change has always been and will always be. It can be hard to swallow, especially if a society has lived with the myth that children will always have better lives than their parents. I guess it depends on how one defines “better”. The truth is that the children will always have different lives than their parents. Just ask a Blackfoot Indian.

1 comment:

Well-Rounded Cowboy said...

Well said. As my old professor, Dr. William Savage at the University of Oklahoma, used to point out: "The history of the world is the history of emigration". It's been with us from the beginning and will still be here long after you and I are gone.