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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Celebrate your history...

Katy Days!!

So my little town just finished their annual celebration of Katy Days.  It’s kind of a festival held this time of year, with various live music events, foods, vendors, historical presentations, things like that…AND TRAINS!  The celebration is built around the remembrance of the fact that our little town was a significant central hub for a Midwest train line:  The MKT (Missouri, Kansas and Texas), affectionately known as the Katy Railroad.  So the historical museum is open all weekend, including the IronHorse Museum which is all about trains, primarily the Katy.  It is a simple museum…I have seen several railroad museums that are bigger, but it is pretty good for a town our size (read:  small).  I’m not a good enough historian to identify exact times and details, but our town was established in the late 1800’s around the new train line, and our town boasted of a very large roundhouse, extensive shops, a big depot and the administrative offices for the line.  (Note: Parsons Kansas was established in 1870 and named after Levi Parsons, the President of the Missouri-Katy-Texas Railroad.  Parsons served as the hub for the MKT Railroad and there were five different rail lines going in different directions.)


But if you talk to the railroad buffs, they will also quickly remind you that in the late 60’s and early 70’s, things were changing in the rail business, and bit by bit the line was reduced here in town until there are only a couple of lines left with minimal support facilities, all now owned by the Union Pacific.  Some even will claim that the rail line pulling out had devastating economic and growth impact on the community from which it has never recovered.  And maybe it did.  Yet there have been other businesses that have arisen, with factories and retailers that didn’t even exist in town when the rail line was prospering…life has gone on.  But in spite of the ambivalent, and sometimes hostile, feelings that people have toward the historical fact, the town still celebrates the annual Katy Days to remember.  And maybe as a way to bring a bit of an economic boost to the community now and then, kind of finding a way to still benefit from the railway of old.  But I had some other thoughts of my own I’d like to pass along.
Notice the celebrating of something people remember fondly, even though it also has a degree of resentment attached.  When we remember our pasts, we can create a celebration of things that weren't really as rosy as we’d like to think…as sometimes people do who wish their spouse would return and yet forget the abuse or misery they suffered.  This is not a healthy or realistic way to approach things.   Another alternative that people follow is to so focus on the good old days that they live their entire lives in the past, nor able to recognize or accept the inevitability of change in our world.  Sometimes this translates into spending all your time wishing things could go back to the way they were, and never able to look to the future with joy or hope, yearning for what will be instead of merely longing for what was. 

But the Katy Days celebration exemplifies an alternative that can be a good example as we deal with our varied pasts and difficult times of loss or change.  The celebration is put together by people who are fully aware of the sorrow over the way things transpired years ago, but who choose to highlight not the negative emotions and events, but the fond memories and the good things of that time period.  We can spend our lives pretending there was nothing bad, we can spend our lives only paying attention to the good, or we can remember things for what they were, celebrate what was good about them, accept that life is always changing and lessons we learned from it all prepare us to make a brighter future.  Kind of like the little engine that could, wouldn't you say?  I think I can, I think I can…..  Toot, toot!

TL:dr:  Change happens so focus on the positive. 

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