Perusing my normal news fare I saw a breakdown of the latest poll for choice of president of these United States. Breakdown is probably the operative word for our present predicament. I noted the number of cross sections that were taken. Sort of an MRI of our politthink. I found it interesting how they can derive all these conclusions pertaining to hundreds of millions of us from a sample of a few thousand but then again what do I know?
I continued to muse on what particular silo I was being placed. That should be easy. I am a white,male,Catholic,former Navy,Vietnam Veteran,Boomer,college grad,married with kids(none at home) former Easterner now Westerner, Independent,cancer survivor,homeowner, golfer,grandparent,blogger,world traveler, volunteer, activist, conservationist (but not tree hugging),cigar smoking,red wine drinking, whack job of a writer. Did I get it all? And you thought you had me all figured out.
We have this constant urge to put people in categories so we can figure out who is with us and agin us. Really stems from early caveman survival where there was security in numbers. At least the caveman part still exists. Now we want to know who stands for what? You have to have not only a belief system but that has to be fairly well defined and you are not allowed to deviate more than a couple of degrees either side of center. This creates groups and a nasty thing called Group Think.
The phrase was coined in the mid 70’s and accounts for a good portion of our commercial and social interaction. In the office every sycophant smiles and nods approvingly at the boss’s brilliance though inside they think he is a bona fide a__hole and a stupid one at that. Disagreement of any sort is sure fire suicide so you grin and bear it. That’s all fine but it gets a little iffy when this dude or dudette is driving the bus off a cliff. C’est la vie.
Socially speaking you have to play on the right side. Liberal or conservative is the first dividing line and any dialogue or lack thereof proceeds from there. Tut tut and tsk tsk will greet any wayward thought. “You know TTG we don’t talk that way around here.Where did you ever come up with that line of thinking?” And life goes on blithely in Happy Valley and all live happily ever after.
This is fine and probably only 5% of you will get what I am trying to say. That is not from any BS feeling of superiority but just the way things work out. We crave our comfort zones. Ostracism and rejection suck so bad we will do everything we can to be part of the group even if we feel differently from time to time. Bury that crazy thought. If things are going just fine then the system works. But kids, I don’t think in a lot of ways it does.
We have incredibly complex problems in government, business and society. Terrorism, globalization, the debt, tax reform, inequality, racism,infrastructure and crazy diseases just to name a few. The Donald says to the Black community, “Try me. I can’t be any worse.” Does anyone in their right mind think this is a prudent course of action? But then please don’t tell me Hilary’s bag of tricks is anything more than an amalgamation of shopworn ideas from political hacks. Do you think an 80 year old John McCain going for his 6th term is going to light fires and inspire millennials?
I have been doing a lot of work on this whole thing of aging. How many of my generation are put out to pasture even if some of those leas have greens and tee boxes? What incredible reservoirs of experience and wisdom we all have in everything from corporate governance to construction to child rearing. Can’t we somehow put that to use?
I have been consulting with a group called helloindigo.com They are a group of retired healthcare executives who have seen the challenges and the opportunities for my peers….old farts. You have the ability by working with them to find out what your passions are and pursue them no matter how off the wall or unattainable they may seem. Once they help you get to the point of discovery they provide you with resources to achieve that goal. Sounds fair enough. I have spoken to 10 or more friends who I think it might work for. They all listened attentively and said they would think about it. Unfortunately I don’t think any have pursued it.
Maybe it is erroneous for me to draw a conclusion without extensive investigation but it seems to me, for them that would be stepping out of the mold. It would be taking a chance. Yet today we are so conditioned to draw inside the lines we don’t realize the real cool things going on inside of us.
I have this crazy thought that inside of us is a kernel that is just dying to bust out. Whether you are 10 or 100 you have spent your life keeping it in check and throwing wet blankets on it. It is really what makes you,YOU! It is what you are good at. It is a thing that I would call your personal genius. What an absolute tragedy if we went to our grave without even giving it a try. My friendly mortician, the Body Snatcher told me last week he sees that aftermath all too often.
I apologize if I am on a kick and probably somewhat repetitive.I know a lot of you are perfectly happy with your pastimes. I don’t want to take that away. I guess I have personally opened up the vault and found a little bit of magic and Damn is it fun! I want to add about 20 more phrases to who I am and I want to help you do the same no matter how young or how old you are. Sorry, it is my tragic flaw. Actually it’s my passion.
Ted The Great
The Baby Boomer generation is some 75 million people. Just 5% would be 3,750,000 bundles of energy and talent living out their dreams and making this big blue marble a better place.
helloindigo.com is a fledgling business trying to find its way. They are looking for a hundred or so who are willing to take a chance on finding their soul. I have no business interest with them other than that great thing called, Intellectual Curiosity.
Media paints the older generation as a period of decline. All sorts of stereotypes show feeble and frail. The new set of elders are vibrant and enthusiastic. They have taken care of themselves for the most part. The tragic part is a lot of them will not have enough money. The challenge is to get them in productive work.
My buddy, Jane Anhold has found her passion and it is golf. She should be in single digits on her handicap next year Right on.
I believe one key to a great life is constantly improving. You reference intellectual curiosity and this is a quality I seek in people we hire and, frankly, people I befriend. I am wary of anyone who thinks she/he has it all figured out and have learned all they need to know. By the way, you referenced some of your qualities, Ted, and I would add “card shark.”