BABY BOOMER BABBLE
The miles are being spent. Let's face it, we boomers are getting older. We are turning sixty-two at the rate of 330 every hour, and will continue to do so until 2022. That's a lot of old. So now what?
When we were young, we took it all on. We fought the government, ended a war, threw out a President or two, cut new paths from the concrete, ignored the signs and walked on the lawn, and dared to let our hair grow long. It was a direct affront on our parents. Products of WWII, and raised by parents who had lived through the Great Depression, they tended to be careful, moderate, followers, and obedient. We tended to be rowdy, radical, and disobedient. Our fathers barely spoke of the war, not able to come to terms with what they had seen or had to do. We asked the questions, but they seldom got answered. We were a motley crew. Rock & roll, long, hair, drugs, and higher education took us away from tradition and the status quo and radicalized us, made us look outside our early parental training, our communities, and moved us towards a more worldly view. It was spring.
I got married when I was 23, my wife 22. We got married in a Catholic Church, with a Protestant minister included. This was the first inter-faith marriage in our community, performed in one church. Our marriage song was "A Bridge Over Troubled Water," by Simon & Garfunkel, a shock to the older participants, probably including our parents. The gathering included some pretty strange looking folks, and one African American, probably another first for this church. We boomers were just getting started on our own. More of us had attended college than any previous generation, and we had our own war to contend with. Vietnam. We approached the war pretty much the same as each previous generation. We served, by and large, with little objection. But it was not to remain that way. The goals were not near as clear as in the past, the mission not near as well defined. In the end, we were instrumental in ending it. We started careers, had an average of around two children, and settled in, as best we could. After all, it was summer.
Careers take time to build. Boomers covered it all. Manufacturing was booming, so a higher education, while pursued by many, was not necessary to make a decent living. We went in all directions. Scientists, social workers, sanitary workers, car makers, plant growers. For most of our working years, there was plenty of work. Most could bang out a living. The goal was to acquire a house, a car or two, have two kids, pay the bills, save a little, and look forward to retirement. It has only been recently that this dream has been interrupted by globalization and the desire of big business to find cheap labor oversees. We were going to take it easy in retirement. Fall is the time to start slowing down.
When I look back over the seasons, there are some things I don't like. We will all see things that are painful, that depress us, fill us with regret. Oh, if only ... I should have ... Why didn't I? It's usually the failures that haunt us. The loses, the longing for more, the uncertainties of what could have been. Now it's winter, and what am I to do? I'm tired and need to sleep more than I did. My thoughts turn inward and I wonder how I could have done things differently. Better. Can I use my disappointments to still move me in new directions? Can I bring the past to a point of conciliation and not worry about the future? Can I live in the now? This will be the dominating question for us Boomers over the coming years. Will we rise to the season? After all, we will now be the elders. It is said the elders are the holders of "the wisdom," and it seems wisdom is in short supply these days. The words of the elders in the winter are to show the way for the younger generation. To inspire them to new heights, to take new paths, to help them find their own voices. It is our winter, and our time. Dare we challenge the seasons?