And, speaking of baby boomers, I never really thought I was old until I saw Al Sharpton on the TV a few nights ago. I thought to myself, “Wow, he really looks old!”
Then, he said, “The first time I was allowed to vote was in 1972.”
Then, I said, “Holy crap! That was the first year I could vote!” Next thing you know, I’m looking at myself in the mirror and see the face of a stranger – no wait! It’s my mother!
We go through these series of ups and downs as we grow older. Some of us embrace the changes. Others just get grumpy and afraid. And, when exactly did we get so afraid?
Here is an excerpt from the book I am currently writing that might give an explanation for this fear:
“What happened to us?”
“I’m used to women who went to Alaska to save the birds when the oil spilled.”
“I’m used to women who took martial arts and could defend themselves an others and felt good about it.”
“I’m used to women police officers, horseback riders and trainers – women who have their own tools!”
“What happened to us? These new twitter-tweeters, texters, Facebook, bloggers, crazy people who don’t step outside and do anything? Is there a gene that says we have to become passive and safe after we turn 40? I’m at a loss when I talk to women who’ve never tried skydiving, or taught juvenile delinquents how to take care of themselves – how to take responsibility despite the fact their family is dysfunctional – women who could nurture, yet at the same time remodel a house, remake a garden, bake bread, or rebuild a car and have their own all-women’s car club!”
“What happened to us? I’ve been hanging out with savvy women who aren’t afraid to invest their own money even after 9/11. They are the kind of women I want in my life all the time. I don’t won’t the whiners – the poor pitiful me types. That really brings me down. When I go there it makes me sad. I still want to live a productive life even if I have to be alone, which is a hard thing to do sometimes.
“After 9/11 why were we so afraid? Safety became so big – no big government except to protect us – was what people screamed. Viagra, Paxil, those things we started worrying about more because the ads told us to worry about these conditions. Red Hat Societies started, but what did they really do? Talk a lot, drink a lot of tea? Come on! Where’s the doing? Ads about body hair for crying out loud! What’s that all about? Reality TV instead of making our own reality; cable shows getting better and better than regular channels but we have to pay for it; elections being about women’s bodies, gay rights, and religion; our rights being taken away each and every day. What happened to all these women speaking up in the 60’s and 70’s? We got old and gave up. We worried about health care, instead.”
“I say, ‘Bahala Na! Come what may!’ I recently read a novel called Lost In Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff. It is about women soldiers surviving a plane crash during WWII. They were on a small island on what is now part of the Dominican Republic. They had to survive their injuries – concussions, gangrene due to severe burns from the plane exploding, all while walking in uncharted territory with little or no food, where no non-native woman had ever been. These were some tough women! Why have the majority of us never been exposed to this environment? Oh, sure, we’re weekend warriors; we have running clubs, but have we really ever had to survive like they did?”
“And yet, there are people out there doing this every day. They live on the streets. Yes, perhaps they made bad choices somewhere along the lines. Perhaps they overspent, and then lost their homes and their jobs. Perhaps they were living on the edge. But, as things get more and more expensive for all of us, we need to rethink our finances and try to help these people in our community. We have so much wealth where we are today. I mean wealth as a term for our lovely town, of living standards that surpass any other place; for green and sustainable living; for our ability to buy and prepare foods that have been grown locally, and being able to eat out in places that are healthy and actually good for us. And, one that makes us above the average income of any other place in the country.”
“I know, I know, you don’t think you have a lot of money because you have to pay off your house, your college, your kids’ college funds. But, there are people who have no savings at all. They live day-to-day. And, if they lose their jobs, they plunge more quickly in debt. They are not the ‘welfare moms’ image that the Reagan administration foisted on us. People who sometimes need help genuinely want to work and don’t have jobs, not because they are lazy, but because their job was outsourced. Women our age have a lot more influence than I had in the past. Now is the time, to use our leverage.”
“We came from a generation that taught us how to pinch pennies. Now, we have an opportunity where we can give back. We can become the mothers and fathers that some people never had. We can teach others how to live within their means, no matter how meager it is. We can give others a chance to survive in this world.”
“Material things aren’t the most important things in life. We can learn this lesson and teach others how to understand that survival and safety come first. If we are good cooks and bakers, we can help others make their own warm, crusty bread and healthy, hearty meals. The house smells wonderful, and they learn how to be a family.”
“We help ourselves and others turn off the TV and learn to appreciate what is free in life. We learn to take a good walk.”
“If we grow personally, we get ideas to stimulate growth in others. Ideas escalate to useful concepts for humanity. Only then can visions of paradise become reality.”