photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dropping the Ball

"No offense to the older generation...but you really dropped the ball on (civil rights, the environment, the economy, FUCKING EVERYTHING...)"

I heard that the other day, and it sounded so familiar. I wondered for a minute where I'd heard it before.

Oh, ya. *I* said it about 40 years ago.

About 40 years ago it was the '70's. There was gas rationing and racial unrest and a pervasive underlying hostility about the Vietnam War that festered and erupted over and over again.

We weren't quite hippies, us late '50's and early '60's babies.

The '70's Show? Totally accurate. More of a documentary than a sit com.

I spent the '70's in bell bottom jeans, self-embroidered denim or tie dyed tee shirts, my long hair pulled back and up in a leather barrette, no makeup and a mood ring.

We made sand candles and macrame plant hangers for our spider plants.

We burned incense to cover the aroma of...dirty our bedrooms.

Actually, I never smoked weed. Never.

Smoking is bad for you.

Brownies are good for you.

We memorized the entire soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar and George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words (shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits) with equal intensity and knew every word of every Monty Python sketch...ever.

The society we lived in was full of change and full of contradiction but one thing we knew with the fervor of youth and the conviction of the teenage years is that we would set the world afire.

Gas rationing? Solar power was just over the horizon...within reach and would be taking off any minute now- our dependence on fossil fuels would be a thing of the past before we turned 30.

We had learned from VietNam that there was no good reason to be at war, no justification for the bloodshed and heartbreak and wholesale destruction it wrought- the broken soldiers and shattered families and scorched countryside in a far away place and we'd be the generation that stopped it...forever.

DDT and other carelessness had come precariously close to decimating our precious fellow travelers on this planet but we knew better now and nothing would happen like that again. The environment was safe in our hands.

So much. So much we were really truly passionate about and we couldn't for the life of us understand why our parents hadn't done something- why they just went to work and raised their kids and stood in quiet orderly obedience at the polling places and called themselves patriotic and we came to the conclusion that it was the times themselves- our parents were raised to be sluggish and pliant and it wasn't really their fault they lacked our passion, our determination to change the world.

They had dropped the ball, but we were different.

Then we were unceremoniously puked out of high school with a recessional and an encouraging word and we oozed though the floorboards of life- some to college, some to the service, some straight into marriage and kids (that would be me).

At 18 I was ready to change the world.

At 19 I was married.

At 20 I had a baby.

At 25 I had another baby.

At 32 I was divorced and working 2 full time jobs to make ends meet.

At 33 I went temporarily insane and fell into a blessedly brief "punish myself for the failure of my first marriage by marrying someone a million times worse" marriage.

At 40 I was married again- sanely and happily.

At 41 I had my last baby.

And at 43 Ward was stricken with cancer and we were plunged into the royally fucked up health care system.

And that's when I realized...

For 25 years I had gone to work and raised my kids and stood in quiet orderly obedience at the polling place and called myself patriotic...along with the rest of my generation.

It had happened without us seeing it, without us realizing it and sure as hell without us meaning for it to.

We dropped the ball.

And though a lot of us are at a point where we can look up over the grindstone and see the hellacious mess we've left for the next generation, not out of malicious intent but out of pedantic distraction, and we are reaching down and picking up the ball again we realize

We're not young anymore. We're old and slow.

And we hand the ball off to you- our children- the defiant and brilliant and beautiful young adults of today- and we apologize and promise.

We apologize for leaving you the same damn mess our parents left us- the politics and the environment and the endless fucking wars...

But we promise- we will not leave you on your own during your middle years, struggling to accomplish the day to day here to there routines of life; mundane yet demanding and guaranteed to suck the soul and passion right out of you unless someone has your back.

We have your back.

Take up the ball and run like the wind with it.

1 comment:

  1. bounce....I hope we are up to the challenge, our kids certainly do deserve better.