"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: baby boomers

generations . . .


 "tempus fugit!"

“tempus fugit!”

In the Sunday New York Times today, there’s a feature article about the “Millennial Generation,” those born after 1980 and before 2000, “a giant cohort now estimated to number at least 80 million Americans.” Wow. That’s hard to imagine. I’ve considered myself to be of the Baby Boomer generation more or less (74.6 million born between 1946 and 1964.) Then there’s the generation in between called Gen-X (84 million people born between 1961 and 1981.) I read online that Gen-X is considered the “middle-child” of our population right now. With that kind of perspective, Baby Boomers represent the eldest child, Gen-X the middle-child and the Millennials are the youngest kid in our American family, at least sociologically and culturally speaking.

That’s an interesting way to look at things if you realize we’re talking about 240 million people here (80M+75M+84M) in these three generations. For me, it also offers some insight into why I feel I may not have much in common with people these days–especially if it turns out to be with younger generations (Mills & X-Gen) who are on Facebook, have I-Phones or their equivalent and Tweet besides. To draw these distinctions further, what kind of music do they like? or is it indistinguishable among these generations? How about eating preferences?: non-gluten, vegan, vegetarian, locavore, fusion, paleo, fast-food? What about reading? on-line, books, sci-fi, kindles, newspapers, magazines? If you think about it, trends are all over the place and are not easily categorized by age either.

But when you watch cooking shows like “Chopped” and somebody says, “oh, that presentation is so ’80’s” –you know the fresh raspberry cluster with a fresh mint leaf or two–, you realize that there’s also a generation gap in food trends. My reaction to the explosion of easy demolitions on TV is that many of the kitchens are still serviceable if you didn’t have money to “update” them. So, there seems to be a distinction between attitudes of efficiency and economy versus trends for granite countertops and state of the art sinks and faucets. Of course lots of people want granite countertops, even baby boomers with empty nests and money to finally spend on themselves instead of college and graduate student tuition payments. (I’m partial to soapstone myself but not sure if I can finagle that for our kitchen!)

I guess before I read the article about “Millennials” I thought we were all the same: human beings that is. Ones who go to school, some who get married and some don’t, some who have children and some don’t, raise them and send them to college while working jobs that are demanding in an economy that is not thriving as much as it used to. It isn’t that simple, apparently. The Millennials have more of a social conscience and are more empathetic towards others and doing good than the other generations, as noted in the article. Gen-X has been caught in the middle and is still wondering about its identity. Baby Boomers have been through it all, at least up to now and are savoring retirement if they can afford it and crossing off items on their bucket lists if they are healthy enough to try out what’s on them.

Honestly, I’m content to stay at home, clean up my kitchen with its outdated formica countertop, put the remaining bag of mulch around the hydrangea bush near the front door and water the the Montauk daisies that I planted yesterday with $5 dollar plants I found at Lowe’s. G. and I ate a roasted Peking Duck last night for dinner that I bought from the local Vietnamese market in town on Saturday. I made the wrappers from scratch which we spread with hoisin sauce, fresh green onions pulled apart nestled with crisp duck skin and fragrant roasted duckling pieces folded together. What a feast it was! We could hardly move afterwards.

Reflecting about the huge numbers of people in each of these three generations (@80M each) is interesting though, because it helps me to understand at least why some things seem so far removed from my consciousness (like Twitter, although tons of people of all ages use it–especially actors and celebrities) but other things don’t seem to separate generations at all. For example, my granddaughter is leaving to start her freshman year at college in Baltimore next week and it seems that there are universally true things that repeat themselves: finding nice dorm room furnishings and shoes that fit, saying goodbye to friends from high school who are going separate ways, hoping that you get along with your roommate and moving into a different level of learning and experience. That doesn’t change much from generation to generation. Love doesn’t either:  for my children who are “Gen-X” and my granddaughters (ages 4 and 18) whose generations aren’t even labelled as yet.

As the old adage goes: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Some stay the same while everything else around us spins off in amazingly different directions. C’est La Vie, I guess.

. . . "time and tide wait for no man."

. . . “time and tide wait for no man.”



equinox . . .

It might be due to the effect of the equinox that we just experienced yesterday that I found myself creating a sort of balance sheet when I woke up this morning. First, I listed all of the things that I feel remorseful about in my life. This includes not taking care of the tiny turtle that a friend gave me in the third grade all the way through mishaps I created for myself during my college days and down to the present day. Little things that have gnawed at me my whole life and big things that I can’t do anything about but have saddened me. The “Remorse” heading had twelve items listed underneath it. I was kind of surprised there were not more after I had done my “Scrooge-like raking over Christmases past.”

As I looked at this list of “mea culpas”, I suddenly had the idea to make a list of “Satisfactions” I have felt in my life. This was not in the game plan when I first set out on my “Remorse” exercise. Extemporaneously and without a lot of thought, I jotted down things I felt I had learned, accomplished or overcome. To my surprise, this list was longer than the first one and had seventeen items. The items were all biggies and there were no fillers in either grouping. I was surprised that “Satisfaction” was longer than “Remorse” because it certainly hasn’t been feeling that way lately.

Then, I made a heading called “Moving Forward.” And here, I’m going to paste in the actual language I wrote:

“Moving Forward: Take ownership for my satisfactions and responsibility for things I feel remorseful about. And then let it all go. Stop striving to prove myself or to make something of myself at this point in my life. Just be and be true to myself. Act intuitively and stop reaching out. Let whatever will come, come to me instead. Change the energy and the direction of the dynamic. And be grateful to acknowledge all of the above, the good, the bad and the ugly. Catch myself when I am being judgmental or defensive. Be as kind as I can be.”

And that’s all. Except perhaps to light some sage and rosemary smudge that I have on the bookshelf in its large abalone shell. So that the smoke clears the energy of the past. And to live the life I really have today.