A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
In a couple of months, the first of the Baby Boomer generation is going to turn 65. While I welcome their demise, this is going to be a disaster of Biblical proportion. The Grim Reaper has just kicked sand in the face of the biggest bully of all time, and the Boomers are not going to go quietly. If we could have harnessed the energy produced by the collective egos of the Baby Boom, our dependence on fossil fuels would have been over – instantaneously. Now, as they face extinction, the final flares of conceit are going to be awesome. Prepare yourself, world. For the next 10 years — at least — life as we know it is going to be put on hold while we hear endless variations of The Bucket List. It’s already started.
Of course, like absolutely everything they ever got their mitts on, the Boomers are going to turn this into an all-consuming adventure. They’re going to throw around words like “growth” and “healing” and “personal experience,” but, in the end, it’s going to be all about who’s got the most stuff. There’ll to be books, websites, luggage, coffee cups, furniture, how-tos, greeting cards, television shows — Oh, God, just kill me now! And forget about travel in the next decade because you’re going to be up to your elbows in old people — and not cool old people either. It’s going to be those tidy buggers who have taken so much Vitamin I they glow in the dark. Every chapter of Lonely Planet is going to be filled with creaky old farts and fartesses doing stupid stuff to demonstrate to the world they haven’t lost it – yet. Skydiving, hang gliding, motorcycle riding and all the other bone-breaking challenges will be full up for the next couple of years. The broken hips alone are going to confuse future archaeologists for centuries. And don’t even bother about Kilimanjaro: you’ll be trampled in the stampede. I haven’t even mentioned poetry, novel writing, painting or modern dance. One complete generation is going to be scrambling around, trying to cram a lifetime of “meaningful experiences” into the quality years between the retirement dinner and the rest home. Good luck, ‘cause it ain’t gonna fit! But the worst thing about it, is, long before the gondolas in Venice fill up, they’re all going to want to talk about it. Justify it. Analyze it. Discuss it, and explain their reasons why. Here’s the reason why: you clowns never just DID anything in your entire life, so now you need a Bucket List to motivate your ass?
Look, I’m sorry you missed a chance at Mary Elizabeth in grade 11. I’m sorry you didn’t go home with Juan Carlos when you were backpacking through Spain in ‘71. I’m sorry you spent more time renovating your house than living in it. I`m sorry you never drove a Lamborghini and I`m sorry you missed the Pyramids. (If Mubarak doesn’t hit the road soon, I’m going to miss them, too!) Here`s the truth of it. Though. Nobody sets out to have a meaningful life; it just happens that way. Crossing off your experiences like items on a grocery list is not going to coax it along. And here`s another revelation: it’s not a contest. Just because you think up some esoteric activity you plan to do before you take the dirt nap, that doesn’t make you more sensitive, imaginative or smarter than the next guy. So don’t strut around like you’ve just captured the flag on the moral high ground. Finally, and most importantly, nobody but you cares why you want to throw a pebble into the Black Sea, and if you bring it up again, somebody is going to slap you.
Personally I think everybody should have a Bucket List. I have one. I wrote it when I was 12 – the first time. The problem I have with Bucket Lists is that Baby Boomers have always had this uncanny ability to spread their regrets over everything they touch. They taint everything with disappointment. Then, they have an unholy need to prance their problems publicly. They think it is somehow virtuous. This latest incarnation, the Bucket List, started off as something whimsical, even magical (if you will) but it’s rapidly turning into a hit parade of songs not sung, roads not taken and opportunities missed. It’s been hijacked by the followers of the gospel according to Lennon “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” The plain fact is Lennon was wrong. Every life is a continuum of “101 Things I Want To Do Before I Die.” Most people figure that out early. If you don’t have a Bucket List throughout you’re life, you’re a dolt. But if you’re depending on it to make the final arc to immortality for you, you’ve done something horribly wrong.