i can make this world as happy as i want it

Like most generations, mine is broadly linked and defined by some pretty large things: the end of the Cold War, the advent of the internet, Star Wars…  but there are other, smaller cultural connections which, while they don’t loom so heavily over us, are nonetheless present–often forgotten, until a passing conversation brings them to mind.

It is hard to find someone of my generation who does not know Bob Ross.  We don’t think of the public TV painter every day, we’re not reminded by every happy little tree of his soothing voice–but we all know him.  Even though he was clearly a product of an earlier era, the kind of inoffensive, wholesome television host meant to entertain our parents, there was always something entrancing about him.  Hey, here he is:

(Neatorama points us to a new Joy of Painting channel at Yubby.com.)

I think maybe a bit of Ross’s laid back demeanor, his commitment to creativity and individuality, and his ability to pull something out of nothing may have stuck with my cynical and often jaded generation.  Ross showed us a safe, focused mental space–one which was not unconscious or unaware, but connected, creative, and centered–which helps us cope with a world growing ever louder and angrier.

That we remember him fondly is a sign of his influence on us.  We grew up distrustful of wholesomeness, but Ross was a different animal, a man with the natural eye of Thoreau and the open heart of Whitman, both withdrawn and connected, who believed in both the power and the accessibility of art.