There is a bond I feel with those who grew up at the same time I did. We could have been living a thousand miles apart, but if they can sing all the words to the Davy Crockett theme song, if they know the name of Sky King’s airplane, if they ever shopped at a 10 cent store, if they can remember being glued their T.V. set when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon, if they ever did the watusi… I feel a connection with them.
This is true for every generation, I suspect. Through the years I’ve had the privilege of knowing several people who have lived past the age of 100 and I’m always struck by the loneliness they experience because there are so few people remaining who have shared their life experience. No one remembers what it was like to shovel coal into the furnace, or use a wringer washing machine. No one can sing the words to “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” with them. I can only imagine how that must feel.
Of course, young people have their own experiences that connect them to one another. When they start talking about the music they listen to, or the apps on their phones, I realize that we live in different worlds.
One of the things I really enjoy about contra-dancing is the way age differences disappear. We’re all together for the same reason. We love to dance. Kids dance with old people and together we create a community of joy. I have dear friends who are younger than my children and I don’t think a whole lot about it. But once we stop dancing… that’s when I’m often reminded that I’m becoming a dinosaur.
The other night while I was leaving a contra-dance, I noticed that one of the other dancers, a twenty-something guy named Peter, was wearing someone else’s nametag. “Moriah” it said. When I saw it, I told him, “You know, they call the wind Moriah.” He looked at me like I was speaking complete gibberish. Then, while exiting the building, I saw that a group of young adults had gathered on the front steps. So, I ran the scenario with Peter past them, and, once again, I got blank stares. I informed them that they were no help at all. Then one of them piped up, “Is it a song or something? It sounds like it could be a song.”
Those moments when I think to myself, “Oh, my God, I’ve become a freakin’ dinosaur!” have been finding me with greater frequency these days. They come whenever the reality of my impending obsolescence smacks me in the face.
I have to face the fact that generations pass. One day, we Baby Boomers will become a footnote in a book some know-it-all-kid studies in a Western Civilization Class. That is, if people are still reading books and going to classes. As for civilization... I can only hope that future generations will do a better job with that after all the dinosaurs like me have become fossils in the earth.