September 5 was the 70th anniversary of the release of Orson Welles masterpiece Citizen Kane. The film opens and closes with the simple word: “Rosebud.” Like any impressionist artwork, it is left for you to connect with it however seems right.
To Kane — a man of enormous wealth, power and celebrity — it is where his mind focuses in his last dying moments. Rosebud, we eventually discover, is a small sled from his childhood. But more than a plaything, it is his metaphor for his own long lost innocence. Having become an adult with stunning status and style, his final minutes on this earth are not of such transient trivia. Instead they are of an enduring memory of a brief time in his life when all seemed simple. safe. sure. innocent.
To Kane, Rosebud represents and re-presents the lost bliss of a once-upon-a-time security. Like falling asleep in the back seat of your father’s car, and then waking up all tucked inside your own bed…! We each have our very own Rosebud cushioned inside the museum of our minds. A place where we can go when the world outside is much too large and complicated. A place, as with Kane, that few if any know about or could even understand.
Today we walk in a world of equally and exorbitantly powerful men and women. Who command global authority…lead great nations…control wide-spread financial assets…stand before us on film and television screens with vaunted image and imagination. And yet, and yet, like Kane, like us, they each have their own Rosebud. Somewhere safely secured from prying eyes. Their Rosebud, like Kane’s, like ours, probably has to do with some tender past.
A first prom night…a first promotion…a first child…or, more likely, the last time they can remember watching with mom and dad the twinkle of a first Christmas Tree. Somewhere, in the little private galaxy of childhood memories, probably shines their best selves.
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