One of the frequent laments that Sharon hears from other women here age is the fear that their spouse is ‘getting old’ on them. It’s a real concern that the man in their life is closing down to the real world. They fear their partner’s opinions, attitudes and reactions reflect a continuing disconnect from everyday reality. Many of these men see a world that is changing all around them and they don’t like it.
Growing up I noticed the same thing. A lot of older folks (I guess that would be anyone over 30) seemed to be out of touch with the reality of the day. Granted, it was my reality but they still seemed to be living in their own secluded, isolated little world. As I grew older, they did too and in the process, I could see a gap growing between my daily life and the new routines they’d created for themselves.
News correspondent Tom Brokaw celebrated this generation by calling them ‘the greatest generation.’ He hero-worshipped their struggles during the Great Depression, their heroic actions in World War II and their resiliency during the post-war recovery.
This was the generation I was supposed to look up to for guidance, inspiration and an idea of what one does when one has lived a full life and is now retired. I was of the boomer generation which was followed by Gen-Xers, Millennials - and so forth. Each generation supposedly possessing special and unique qualifications that made them something special. But it was the ‘greatest generation’ was started it all. Supposedly, started it all. I beg to differ.
While most of us morphed into adulthood and were facing daily challenges and struggles with our jobs, career advancements, relationships, world events, politics and living in our community, many of the ‘greatest generation’ had divorced themselves from that past life of theirs.
I had the feeling that they’d been through all of that before and now they just wanted to enjoy their retirement and abstain from the daily rigors of earning a living and living a life. They were retired or near it and wanted to shed themselves of the challenges most of us were facing on a daily basis.
They were no longer working their nine-to-five jobs. Their kids were out of the house and the grandkids were scheduled between card games, salon appointments, group outings and grocery shopping. They had created for themselves a calm, orderly way of life, purposely devoid of the harsh realities most of us still faced on a daily basis. It was their comfort zone and they were sequestered there for the duration.
On the surface, it seemed a well-deserved retirement schedule forged out of long hours at work and raising a family. My only argument against that supposed plateau of peace and serenity was the separation from the rest of us working stiffs. Moreover, it hurt mainly them not us.
The downside of that entrenched isolationism on their part is that they were not staying relevant to the world around them. The world continued on and they stayed in their old place, stuck in the past even as it became more and more irrelevant. Business, communications, and world events continued to morph and evolve and they stayed in their isolated happy place.
Monday morning quarterbacking became a favorite game to play because they had the time. Old men gathered at the coffee shop to talk at one another and seldom if ever listened to what was being said. If and when they did happen to listen, the conversation usually centered around bitching about taxes, local and national government, believing the propaganda all the political parties were spewing forth on the air waves and in print. It was seldom if ever positive and more likely a sad lament of times past and the failures of future generations rather than their own.
Now I am, and millions more like me are, of that senior generation. The boomers are getting older and some, unfortunately, have morphed into that same isolationist routine of living. The corner coffee shop is full of old men bitching about taxes, politics and politicians and the futility of trying to talk sense into that younger generation. Here we go all over again.
Staying relevant to the world around us seems to be the only answer for my generation. To stay informed, involved and committed to something is far better than to remain entrenched in yesterday and the glory of one’s past. The world cares little for our opinion. They do respect our action. And in the end, our actions may be the only thing that counts.