"Welcome to the gross personal story years." Shoebox, courtesy of my friend Mary
[In response to On turning 50 - Joan Walsh - Open Salon. Happy Birthday, Joan!]
I was a little freaked out about my own birthday this year until my older sister set me straight -- "It's a day in a week in a year in a lifetime. BFD what the number is." Of course she's right. Age truly is just a number, especially for Baby Boomers.
Many of us are reaching milestones these days, but no matter what our age, Boomers are 'younger' than any preceding generation. Think of it this way: we're the first generation in history who will go to our graves in jeans.
On my part and yours, let's hope that's not for a long time. And that we continue to embrace life in all its challenges, forms and fashions.
With people living well--and I do mean well--into their 80's, 90's and beyond, the stereotypes of aging and old age have changed radically. So has the concept of "Senior Citizen."
When we Baby Boomers were young, people in their 50's or 60's truly were Seniors -- they thought so themselves. Those who managed somehow to live into their 70's and 80's were Really Old People.
Our parents grew up following a pattern established through generations. They were allowed to sow some wild oats until maybe their early 20's. Then they were supposed to become Adults. Immediately. They had to change their attitudes, behavior, expectations, dreams, lifestyles and hairstyles--not to mention self-image--virtually overnight.
It's like there was a manual. Get engaged, get married, get a job, buy a home, have children, work hard, save for retirement. Oh, and radically alter the dress code from teenage to grown-up Ties and jackets for the men. Skirts, high heels and white gloves for the women.
They lived that way out of habit and comfort, and maybe inertia, encouraged by their parents, our culture, the government and the entertainment industry. They expected to grow old that way. And as we were growing, they expected we would do the same.
Bottom line, throughout modern history, mature adults were told to Act Your Age. The Baby Boomer generation made that concept obsolete. We turned youthful zest, curiosity, imagination, determination, expectation, vim and "vigah" into a personal and professional credo, and culture, undefined by age. Many of us might be mature but none of us will ever really feel old.
Especially compared to our parents. The Baby Boomer Revolution of the 1960's and 70's created a huge divide between adults and kids. We had a name for it: The Generation Gap.
We had other phrases too: Sex, Drugs and Rock N Roll. Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out. Make Love, Not War. Even if we don't live that way any more, we still think that way. Particularly about war. So we don't have the same Gap with our children.
We had one other phrase in the 60's: Don't trust anyone over 30. Okay so that's come back to bite us in the ass. We were wrong then, and it's wrong now for GenX, Y or Z to count us out. We created and participated in a unique, groundbreaking Revolution. We reinvented the life wheel. And changed the world.
Yes we make mistakes. Yes many of us have not lived up to the promise we represented. But a great many of us have. And continue the fight, side by side with our chronologically younger counterparts. Who still have A LOT to learn from us.
No generation before or since has opened as many doors to as many people, ideas, possibilities and hope as the Baby Boomers. I'm proud to be one of them.
For more perspective on the future for our age group: Senior Sex: Get It, Got It, Good.