As of late, we’ve been thinking a lot about our generation. It’s the one that no one really talks about, and marketers haven’t marketed to since that Volkswagen commercial with the youngsters on a moonlight drive in a Cabrio, blissing out to some Nick Drake. It’s the lost generation, begotten by the Silent Generation. It’s the smaller one cramped between the baby boomers and their progeny, GenY.
We are X, and, well, we’ve learned to deal with it. In fact, many of us have learned to live and cope with just about anything, as long as we have a roof over our heads, grub in the fridge, and some decent sex.
As kids, our generation had a front row viewing of some of the most brutal divorces the United States has ever seen. Us latchkey variety of GenX-ers didn’t see a whole lot of our parents on a day-to-day basis. A lot of us raised ourselves. At night, we often dreamt of fiery-orange mushroom clouds and the molten demise of all living things.
We’ve now weathered two recessions — the first one being when most of us got out of college. Talk about crappy timing. And the other came just as some of us were trying to shift into third gear, were putting down the ink on adjustable rate mortgages, and raising young families. That is what you call, real shitty timing.
But, if all this didn’t brake us, it turned us into monks donning t-shirts and jeans. Life sandwiched between the baby boomers and GenY, in all its narcissistic absurdity, has been our monastery, and we have been forged into modern day Buddhists.
As the GenX writer, Whitney Collins says in her essay, The Zen of Gen X, “We accept impermanence.”
“Is ‘hapathy’ a word?” Whitney asks. “I don’t know. I just think the overarching theme for Gen Xers is one of happy apathy. The whole Buddhist approach to living teaches non-attachment, in that ‘attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.’”
Will we ever get our shot at running the world?
Sara Scribner, writing for Salon, said:
If we’re going to make the country a better place, more suited to our values, we [GenX] need to do it ourselves. Middle age is, if nothing else, time to shift out of second gear. If we can’t take a break from the urban farms, put down the knitting and home brewing equipment, and step into politics, business and other kinds of leadership, we’ll deserve our reputation as the generation that never quite showed up. Rather than the sound of silence, we should be hearing our voices – and they should be loud and angry.
Loud and angry? While we appreciate the sentiment, we’ll leave that to the baby boomers who perch in front of their TV’s poisoning their minds with hyperbolic 24/7 infotainment disguised as news. There is too much loud and angry choking the atmosphere already.
What’s the alternative? To become benevolent Machiavellians.
Let GenY-ers think they are special. Foster it, even, because they are. Collectively, they are more caring and compassionate about our little blue planet and all things under its skies than any other generation to come along yet.
GenY is going to have the heavy burden of fixing everything the boomers, and the age of modernity have fouled up. GenY is the paradigm shift the world has been waiting for, and urgently needs. Be patient, though, we should say to them. Give it ten years, and you guys will be in complete control. Have fun. Give it grit. Fight the good fight. Get out there and get it done — we’re right behind you. Seize your destiny, damn it! Trophies for everyone!
But, learn to relax, they should be counseled. Get eight hours of sleep per night, and meditate in one form or another. You must tend to the inner to make the outer better.
What we don’t need to tell them is that heavy is the head that wears the crown. Life will box them around, and on an individual basis, brake them or make them wise. Eventually, they will create some novel problems that the same sort of thinking can never fix, and another generation will come sweeping up behind them to sop up their mess.
And we, X, will sit by, smiling, watching life’s rich, multi-generational pageant, doing some heavy, far out meta-analysis, singing, “It’s the end of the world as we know it — and I feel fine.”