How do we Boomers pass on what we’ve learned? Just imagine what it was like to see gusts of people on marches, hordes of humanity listening to music, music that told stories, sweeping across hills, swaying and swooning, waving hands, thousands of us, longing for peace.
It was ecstatic for me, in a way that I struggle to describe today.
If I could tell young people what it was like to be that inspired, moved to create fairness and a kinder, safer world. It all seemed to have meaning. We had songs like: “Something’s happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear, there’s a man with a gun over there.”
Vietnam stared at us while friends went to war, returning in coffins, others risked escaping the draft in fear and bravery. We watched cataclysmic AIDS scourge our gay communities, losing precious friends.
I just wish I could capture it in words, what it was like to turn on television to something inspiring. We watched Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers and many clever comedians and thinkers, we danced to the Beatles. We quivered, pulsating along with Elvis Presley, with his deep blues and rock n’ roll. My mother never missed watching him grind his groin, sensual beyond the prone positioned stars we see these days.
We’ve buried our parents, our siblings, our pets. We’ve tucked all this into our psyches and souls. We’ve wept and were lifted up, from the Kennedys to King, gasping in disbelief during 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and disappointing divorces – learning the hard way. We boomers are imperfect, but we’ve stood through time, like gnarly, lovely trees with crooked branches and splitting, hollowing trunks. Wisdom is different from ambition or intellect. Lessons are carved in our hearts like in a cherry tree.
I took a lunch bucket to grade school with Roy Rodgers on the front, never worrying about being shot. The worst I remember were the nuns scolding me when my skirt was one inch above my knees in school.
We had weird politics too, and arguments galore, but I can’t recall anything as macabre as Marjorie Taylor Green spitting and spewing nonsense in front of the entire world. Now we grow older with insights and a fear that we’re about to leave the world a worse place than we found it. YES, we have time left, though we never know how much.
Before all go boom, we should join with kids to insist on values that support the common good. As Bill McKibben wrote: “What really should scare the corporate and political bad actors is the prospect of old and young people connecting because there is real power if we work across generations.”
History is zooming by us. But “70% of the country’s financial assets are in the hands of boomers and the Silent Generation compared with just about 5 percent for millennials.”We still have time to stand up for human decency, otherwise, Joni Mitchell might be right: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Katy Byrne, MA, LMFT, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the Bay Area for over 35 years and author, The Power of Being Heard. ConversationswithKaty.com. 707.548.8982