Has Time Been Kind to Your Favorite?

Do you have a favorite book? A favorite movie? Or a favorite song? For them to be your favorite, you’ve had to enjoy them more than once.

Have those favorites remained that way through the years? That’s the tricky question because time plays no favorites.

Time Plays No Favorites

My favorite movie is Rocky, and I’ve easily watched it a dozen times since its debut in 1976. However, it didn’t become my favorite until I was nearly forty years old.

I saw the movie in the theater. My parents took me to see it. Society was cooler back then, and kids could see a film like Rocky and be expected to ‘get’ most of it. I was seven, so my appreciation for the movie was only as a boxing movie; I didn’t understand its intricacies.

Rocky movie poster

I have no idea what my favorite movie film was at that time. Star Wars came out the following year, and for years that was my favorite. I had the toys, trading cards, and t-shirts to prove it. In the eighties, WarGames became my favorite movie. In the nineties, I’d say that Clerks took that honor.

But Rocky always hung around as one I liked. I would rewatch it and find new things to appreciate. For example, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I truly understood why Rocky won. Yeah, everyone gets that he went the distance, and no one had ever done it with the champ, Apollo Creed. Even a kid could understand that.

But it was the fact that Rocky undervalued himself in life that slipped by me as a youngster. He worked as a collector for a loan shark and only trained part-time in the gym. Rocky placed his dream second to getting by. He didn’t think he was good enough; therefore, nobody else thought he was good enough.

A boy wouldn’t fathom that, and even a teenager would have trouble grasping it. It takes years of life kicking a person around before understanding what Rocky felt.

As I’ve gotten older and revisited the film, I’ve noticed new things—like the subtle interactions between Rocky and his trainer, Mickey. The scene where Mick shows up at Rocky’s apartment and asks to train Rocky for the big fight tears me up now. It never did before. The reason is that I can see life through Mickey’s eyes now. I thought I understood Mickey’s regret, loss, and missed opportunities when I was younger. Now that I’ve reached fifty years, I know what Mickey felt.

This means the movie is different because I’m different.

Other movies that I’ve loved haven’t aged well. Not because of societal changes or technological advances, but rather the changes in me. For example, I still think Clerks is funny, but I no longer identify with the employees of that film like I used to. Instead, I watch them and think, “They sure complain a lot when they should be working.”

And Star Wars isn’t even in what I would consider the top ten science fiction movies. To me, it’s popcorn science fiction now, and there is so much better stuff out there.

Playing Favorites

Playing favorites occurs in music, too.

I love heavy metal. I say that a lot on the blog, but my favorite song isn’t a heavy metal one.

While growing up, my favorite song was “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. It was a song that I listened to with my dad. It was one he enjoyed, but I don’t know if it was a favorite. For whatever reason, I thought it was a loving song about a father and his son. As I grew older, I realized it was about loss. The lyrics concerned a father’s lost opportunities to be with his son, and it ended with the father realizing that his son was now repeating the same mistakes he made. It’s a beautiful, sad song, but I rarely listen to it now.

As I went about my musical journey, I discovered Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive! in my late thirties. It was released in 1976 (the same year as Rocky, coincidentally). It’s not my favorite album, but it did contain my favorite song. “Do You Feel Like We Do?” is a 14-minute, 17-second masterpiece. I think I heard the tune for the first time when I was in the Army. I might have heard it sooner, but regardless, it didn’t resonate with me. By my fortieth birthday, the song struck a chord (pun intended) in a way that I could listen to it every day.

It wasn’t the lyrics that made it my favorite then, which is odd since words are why I like a song. Instead, it was the feeling “Do You Feel Like We Do?” invoked. The way the music drifted back and forth and then reached a crescendo before proceeding through the chorus again. It just made me feel good.

More than a decade has passed since I decided that was my favorite song, and the reality is I no longer feel that way. Strangely, it’s “In My Life,” a 1965 song by the Beatles that seems to be the one most on my mind and heart. I occasionally listen to it and think about my life in the terms that John Lennon sings. The song wasn’t part of my life in high school, nor was it the soundtrack for any memories while in the Army. However, its lyrics rip me up in a way that not many songs can.

I still listen to a lot of heavy metal, but I’ve yet to find my favorite song in the genre. And trust me, I’m trying.

Favorite Words

Chocolate War book

It shouldn’t be a surprise that our favorite things change with us as we age. However, my favorite books seem to be the most consistent.

When I left high school, my favorite novel was George Orwell’s 1984. I’d read it in class and fell in love with the book. It’s a dystopian tale of an oppressive society and one man’s struggle to find his individuality within it.

During my time in the military, a friend recommended a movie, The Chocolate War. I liked the movie so much that I read Robert Cormier’s book of the same name. It’s about a catholic school’s annual chocolate sale and one teenager’s unwillingness to participate. There’s much more to it than my one-sentence description.

The novel and the film are closely aligned except for the endings—they are radically different. I enjoyed the movie but fell in love with the book, and it’s been my favorite for almost twenty-five years now.

Others have come close to taking the title of my favorite. One quickly comes to mind—Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk. It’s about a man pursuing his dream only to find out it wasn’t what he wanted after all. I discovered the book years ago, and it holds a special place in my heart. As I grow older, the book becomes dearer to me. It may one day take the title of favorite.

Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

But for something to become our favorite, we’ve got to read it more than once, view it repeatedly, or rewind it and start it again (that’s an old-school music reference, kids).

Have you taken a minute to consider what your favorites are or if they’ve changed through the years? Reflecting on them might reveal something about yourself and how you’ve changed.

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