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A Boomer Turns 61:

Yesterday at the Rose Parade among the prancing horses, the marching bands, regal hand waving celebrities, and the cotton candy hawking vendors one of the dozen flower bedecked floats riveted my attention.  A rumbling disquiet emerged from my psychic core, a rumbling laden with foreboding.  Visually the float was kind of  typical, not filled with dancing girls and erupting volcanoes, but packing an explosive message.  It depicted an old time railroad passenger car with a bunch of middle aged people smiling in anticipation of their destination.  Emblazoned on the side was the name; Boomer Express 1946.   My first thought was YES!... Celebrate the generation of anti-war protest demonstrations, free love hippie bacchanals, and social liberation (blacks, women, gays).   But alas, none of those impactful and well known markers of the generation was recognized.  In white (as in pushing up the daisies) flowers was the terse and threatening phrase, One in Eight--sponsored by the Alzheimer Association.  Shock, anger, and chagrin emerged in my 61 year old mind.  Are they hoping for donations by playing the fear card?  Are they reminding us that the end is nearing and it is not pleasant?  After most of a lifetime busting age related stereotypes, do they think we are gonna go down with an unconscious whimper?

Turning 61 today and quite aware of the passage of time and potential challenges that lie ahead.  My Boomer Express is not headed passively to the nursing home.  That float is wake up call to express more fully with the rainbow of life's gifts, I am fired up with the three Rs;  Remembrance, Recognition, and Revolution.  

Remembrance:  Although portrayed as the Now Generation, the Boomers in the Sixties and Seventies referred back decades for stylistic cues in clothes (Victorian), posters (A. Beardsley), novels (Tolkien and Hesse), and politics (Marx).  Today, as we step into our last chapters Remembrance can mean another look at our values, dreams, goals, and spirit of our youth.  Not slipping into morbid nostalgia but tapped as a mother lode of energy for this stage of life. 

Recognition:  A key trait of that time was the willingness to expose and tell the truth about what was going on.  I recently reviewed some of my writing from back in high school and noticed how similar were the social and political issues I was concerned about then as today; from war to justice to the natural environment.  Also, the personal values resonate today such as freedom, adventure, and unconditional compassion for others.  Today, it can be energizing to recognize the areas of life where we as individuals yearn for more freedom, fun, community, and passion.   No longer 20 or 30 but the core values of youth can be recognized in our current stage of life.

Revolution:  Back in the day we were gonna have a revolution in politics, relationships, music, art and just about everything else.  We know what happened to a lot of those radical ideals.  As some point we grew up and settled down to the mundane aspects of life; work, family, house, etc.  Today's Revolution can be filled with the wise soul and youthful passion.    Revolution of lifestyle and view point is called for to live the dream.   Breaking out of the narrow boundaries of our thirty to forty years of responsible living and into the freedom of a new lifestyle, a new work, a new expressive art is liberating.  Expand from the narrow ideas of old age and the mournful train to Alzheimers.   As John Lennon said back then, 'you say you want a revolution, you better free your mind instead.' In the 21st Century we can use the new technologies to build community, to share our wisdom, and to express freely. 

To the Alzheimer's Association and their float I say, thanks for the reminder that time's awasting but I refute the image of riding that sorry train to the no self of Alzheimers.  Today at 61 I stand tall, alive, unrepentant and claiming my old age is my best age.  Redemption is here and now, it is on earth and it is there for those who still remember, recognize, and revolt because they are living the dream deferred.


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