Posted on August 6, 2012 by captaincliff
And it makes me wonder…. Way back when, there appeared to be only two basic kinds of Baby Boomers. You remember us, right? We’re the large group of gray and balding men and women who used to be long haired hippies who smoked pot, attempted to play the guitar (only a few of us ever really could) and wanted to change the world. Yes, there were a few straight laced conservative people our age who looked at us as disobedient weirdos, but by and large THEY were the “queer” and uptight ones who clung to our parents values, voted for Richard Nixon, and marched proudly into combat in Vietnam ….never to be seen again. Oh yeah, keep in mind that “queer” back then had a different connotation than what it means today. Back then it meant you preferred Perry Como and Andy Williams records to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. We also correctly surmised the existence of alternate realities and sometimes used hallucinogens like LSD to explore the many sided mirrors and doors of perception, both ordinary and non-ordinary.
Over the years, strangely, this “split” or bifurcation of types of Baby Boomers has morphed into many different things. Now there are multiple mirrors revealing our fundamental differences. Some of us are now staunch Republicans (no, not me), some are knee-jerk liberals. Some are for more government, others for less. Some of us feel immediately bad for drunk homeless people and others think, “That’s a shame, but he should get a job and stop drinking!” Often they are good-natured differences, ones we can humorously argue about on Facebook forums and sarcastically call or text one another to say, “I know. I was there with you at the University of Colorado protesting the war and simultaneously trying to get laid too. You looked ridiculous with a beard and no mustache back then, man. Well, so did you!”
Sometimes our political differences get more heated and we end up sounding like the paid pundits arguing on TV, but then, just like them after the commercial break, we can usually shake hands and go out for a drink together. We recognize our philosophical differences but remember our shared place in history. I suspect we also know and mourn silently together in our culturally induced narcissism and idealistic losses. What I mean is we didn’t succeed in changing the world like we wanted to. We kind of know we sold out at some level. The larger system is essentially the same as it always was and most of us gave up chanting anti-war slogans, Hare Krishna prayers, and Transcendental Meditation mantras and eventually joined country clubs, synagogues and brokerage houses just like our parents did. We became more interested and obsessed with making money and understandably in our own family’s economic survival. Creativity and living a care free, free spirited existence went to the same place our long hair and hippie beads went…..on the floor and in a drawer.
I’m not saying that’s such a bad thing. It’s just that many of us didn’t think when we were young that would happen. We were like the sweet natured Eloi tribe in the old 1960 movie The Time Machine. We thought, metaphorically speaking, that nature would provide and large pieces of fresh fruit and baked bread would be served to us on silver platters when it was time to eat. We had a sense of destiny and “certainty” about things once. For example, we absolutely positively were CERTAIN we had the BEST music of any generation EVER, and it played in our heads, on our home stereos, and from our cars constantly. We also were certain that the world was made of two types of everything, like the cool and the uncool, the hip and the unhip, the enlightened and the unenlightened. It took us many years to see the various shades of gray in the world… and in opening our “eyes” to such complexity and uncertainty we lost something, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they ate of the “Tree of Knowledge”. We didn’t just learn about good and bad, like John Lennon and Charles Manson, Woodstock and Altamont, but we began to see our own shadows and psychological imperfections in failed marriages, custody battles, parenting nightmares and substance abuse problems, sometimes ours and sometimes in our own reflexively rebellious teenagers. That was another “mirror” of reality many of us didn’t count on having to face.
Dont get me wrong. I’m not trying to be morbid or totally pessimistic. If you know me at all then you’ll understand it is more about humor, irony and, well, sentimentality. It’s ironic and hilarious to me that I cared so very much, at age 20, about having long hair that would “stay in place” so I could look cool at the protest marches in Boulder, and now I am totally bald (aided by my overly expensive Mach 3 razor blades by Gillette). It’s ironic that I am a divorced Clinical Psychologist with three idealistic 20-something sons. It is touching and soul moving when I hear music from the 60′s and 70′s or talk to high school friends (and others) on Facebook who, like me, look alot older but have the same twinkle in their eye that I remember from so long ago. Finally, I dont give a shit what my kids say. We DID have the BEST MUSIC ever!! Peace and Love MY Brothers and Sisters….and really good food too.
Stairway to Heaven…..61 MILLION hits and counting: