“We don’t grow older, we grow riper.” —Pablo Picasso
Let’s be honest, for those of us born between the years 1947 and 1964 being tagged as the Baby Boomer generation has its drawbacks. Think about it: An entire cohort would forever be identified by the fact that our parents decided to celebrate the end of war by having sex—a lot of it, if you do the numbers.
What kind of banner is that to be raised under? Adding insult to injury, Tom Brokaw decided to give the generation that gave birth to the Boomers the moniker, The Greatest Generation.
On the other hand, one would think that with the bar being as low as simply giving us credit for simply arriving en masse, the only way to go from that point was up. While the list of accomplishments in all areas of society and culture by Boomers could go on for pages, many bear the stain of what many find to be the leading chracteristic of our group: the desperate need to feel special.
No matter what we went through, it was as if it had never happened to anyone before. So it was that the whole nation, and the world for that matter, had to suffer through our teenage angst, our young adult angst, our adult angst, our middle-age angst, and now—you guessed it—our elder angst. As hippies gave way to yuppies who seem to be giving way to "grumpies," it’s clear that this generation does not intend to “go quietly into that good night.”
Maybe there’s still hope. Maybe the aging process itself will help ease our neurotic tendencies. Perhaps it’s not too late to add a hyphen after our current tag: "Baby Boomer—The generation that finally came to terms with the fact that growing older leads to dying despite our vain attempts to beat back Father Time." Wieldy, for sure, but it’s a start.
Perhaps we could aim a little higher and bring back dignity and grace to aging. This doesn’t mean just letting ourselves go in the traditional sense of not caring what we look like anymore, or doing whatever feels right regardless and what others think.
I’m thinking more along the lines of letting go of the conditioned response to life and death that puts us in a state of resistance—that habitual tightening as if life was about to punch us in the gut. Maybe we could become the "SOFT" Generation: Seeing Openings for Transformation.
This could work; no one loves a good acronym more than we Boomers. Add a slogan and we’re right back to “Hell no, we won’t go” and “Make love, not war.”
I tossed the slogan idea around a room of graying urban professionals (Guppies) and here is what we came up with:
- Hell, yes, we are blessed.
- All the way, we’re going gray.
- Youth, I grew out of it.
- Impeach Nixon! (Hard to let go of the good ones.)
It’s not too late, fellow Boomers: We can still put together a new movement. Let’s gather our collective wisdom, gained in the only way that counts, making mistakes, and let’s “Take it to the streets.” Right after a good nap.