I read something today that shook me. Deep. Way down deep, in a big WTF sort of way... it had to do with the local school wanting to arm security guards. And then I hopscotched to an article about the psychological effect of gun violence, drills, and paranoia on young children.
I don't think I have to describe the feeling inside. I think we all feel that horror; it's a mess. The uncertainty. The rage, the confusion, the sadness.
But, here's what I noticed, as I read through the inter-webs: my father's generation grew up this way, during the Cold War. They grew up (our Baby Booming parents) hiding under their desks, wondering whether bombs would fall from the sky. It was "war time." There was the big button. And then we were into the Cold War.
I had a chat with my Dad about his childhood. And it was so different... this was a war machine, not unpredictable civilians shooting each other and kids in schools and movie theaters. So much is different, but still, there were parallels. Duck and Cover, they called it. They hid under their desks when the sirens went off. They never knew when an air raid might materialize. This generation had its share of anxiety growing up, for sure.
I read here about the fear and anxiety over current politics and threats to our safety, and how they echo the fears of the Cold War era. We are re-living those fearful childhoods, through our baby boomers. It's palpable. The tension, the air thick with the memory of it, of hiding. Are we safe, are we safe?
And on the other hand, we have the current kids. The group my son will be joining in the fall. These kids are in the beginning stages of learning "active shooter drills." The Boomers had fall-out shelters, and now we are talking about "safe rooms." The threat is very different. But the fear is real, for both. I shudder to imagine my son growing up in such fear-based, dark world. And anxiety begins to tug at me, too. But then, I stop. I breathe. I ground myself. And I remember...
My generation is a special one. And I'm definitely talking about my own privileged youth: my friends, my school experience. Of course, not everyone had a positive experience, for personal reasons. But I'm talking about the vibe of the nation. The Reagan Years. We grew up in the age of bliss, in many ways
I watched the first choreographed music video, ever, on MTV (back when they just played music videos) along with many of my Gen X counterparts who were lucky enough to have cable. (You just heard Video Killed the Radio Star in your head just now, didn't you?) Oh - ah- oh...
I grew up with Dolly Pops and He-Man cartoons and Voltron and Smurfs. US in the 80s... in the middle class neighborhoods... there were TVs everywhere. Abundance. Too much, I think. We had it good. New Wave vibes and Boy George and John Hughes films. Lisa Lisa. Janet. Blondie. Bon Jovi. The Rubick's Cube. Watchu talkin' 'bout Willis? Different Strokes. Beepers and pagers. Madonna. Atari... Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger. The arcade. Neon shirts. Webster. Asymmetrical skirts. Princess Di. Skorts. Tina Turner. Scrunchies. Keds. Miami Vice. Knight Rider. Human League. Wham! Bowie. <3 The Go-Gos. Mr. T. FAME! Flashdance. Shoulder pads. PRINCE. Garbage Pail Kids. Whitney Houston. Mr. Wizard's World. Mall bangs. Mr. Rogers. Peak Michael Jackson. We Are the World. Hands Across America. Farm Aid. U2, The Police, Sting. Debbie Gibson. Selena. BRUUUUCE. Weird Al. COMING TO AMERICA. Roller rinks. New Kids and Tiffany... we crossed into the nineties and the Seattle grunge exploded! Kurt Cobain and the Nevermind album, oh my God! Chris Cornell. <3 We met John Mayer. Dial-up internet entered the home.
I could reminisce for hours. There was pretention, to be sure, but I remember the freedom, the bliss, the culture, the abstract art, the vibe... like it were yesterday. I think a lot of us do. TURBO AND OZONE! Sorry, that just slipped out. So, we sort of packed it up inside, and carried it along with us. Many of my counterparts still quote their favorite childhood shows and nostalgia. it was so much a part of us, and it was the beginning of an addiction to technology and instant satisfaction, as well.
For a lot of us, our parents worked outside the home. Latch-key kids. Oh, yes... who else had keys around their necks and walked home from school to empty houses? And usually, that was perfectly safe. Not a care. Our biggest threat was the potential weirdo in a van with candy. We had more TV time and we were a spoiled bunch... What we didn't grow up with...was a looming fear of danger and imminent death. We thought we'd live forever, we were invincible. Our battlefield was Love. <3
And for so many of us, it still is. We are Hippie 2.0, streamlined for greater efficiency. Hyper-Connected. Love x Love X Infinity. Nothing is impossible. Stubborn as all get-out. We will survive. Win. Achieve our dreams. Because better days are possible. We've seen them. Great things happen and dreams come true. And good guys win.
i mean, we wanted to solve our problems with dance-offs...
My point here... is that our kids have an amazing gift, to help them navigate through their childhoods.
They have us. The 80s kids. The Gen Xers. The hope-and-dreamers. The big Lovers. The idealists. We were in a magical sort of bubble, as far as violence went. Sure, skirmishes existed, but not in our backyards. Not at home, not in America. We didn't know about any of that, we were safe. We were eating Fun Dip and Razzles and learning about Aids and safe sex. We were saying no to drugs (well, some of us said yes. No, not me. I was a drama queen, but straight as an arrow.) We learned about global warming for the first time. We were learning joy and empathy, indulgence and moderation, not fear and paranoia.
Granted we still had socio-economic division and racial conflict and all the rest. We had the good ol' haves and have-nots. But we weren't living in a constant fear of destruction. As our parents did, and as our kids are. We're in that blessed middle. It's a sacred space, because we've known innocence. We know hope. We know Light and goodness and abundance and harmony. Believers.
We saw the end of the Cold War. We saw the Berlin Wall opened and then destroyed, joining the east and west. We saw resolution. Handshakes. We saw eruptions of joy, celebration, and community. Acceptance. Understanding between diverse groups. We've seen moments of peace and wonder. We've also seen riots and disruptions and worked to resolve them. And with so many social injustices, there is always more work to do. But we're doing it. Tables are turning, grounds are shaking, and ways are changing. Step by step. We've been taking down walls since the eighties.
Why are we unique? Because we are in the middle. And not in a holier-than-thou-super-special-snowflake way.... but, meaning that we are the balance. We can raise children with tools to dream and believe and hope, and to do the work. To imagine. To create. To manage anxiety and emotional eruptions. We can tell them that human beings can love each other, work together, trust each other, and succeed, together. We can instill them with beliefs that are empowering, because we've been there. We've seen bright times, and we know, they'll come again. We can infuse them with Love, in a time of fear. With our feet on steady ground, filled up with hope and that glimmer of Light and peace-time goodness... we can hold space for our parents and keep them grounded. We can comfort our children and guide them through. And we can continue to dream, hope, and imagine a better and safer world. We've seen glimpses of it. We're the ones. We're those people. We're that generation that guides the ship. That lifts and inspires and motivates and makes.
Change happens. Reform happens. Tragedies happen, but we rise from the ashes and demand change. We rip down walls that separate us, we celebrate each other, we Love.
We Love. And we'll keep on...
Lost in my adolescent past
The gift of a second glance
Days of impetuous, unbridled Now
Undertow, letting go, holding on, reaching for Bliss
Rose petals and mystery and magic in the mist
Galaxies collide, collapsing into the
grand symphony of a brand new whole
pulsating, undulating, reborn as One
Each dying into the other
Separate from the rest
Shining, apart, its own work of Art
Yes, yes, I remember, I know
I can remember, Spring's taste still sweet upon my lips
Then, Summer's sweet effervescent kiss
The allure, the torture, the pull and twist
Such a cosmic, scintillating glow
When two worlds combine
and no one else has to know
But time and experience have taught this little girl
that I'm the only one who can design my Life, My Love, my Heart ...
This woman, here now, is not that little girl
Pain changes people and I live in a different world
But the question hangs heavy in the air
Can prying open Love's box lead to Joy and not despair?
Can we recall Spring and dance eternally in Summer's Sun?
One never knows, so we call in Faith and Chance
and we Trust in the Moon and we wait
And we wait
And we writhe
And we wait
For a sign, for a clue, for a hint that it's safe
But Love's raw gaze is never safe!
It's a raging ocean and a tranquil sea
It's holding space for a You while honoring Me
It's a dizzying dance on the edge of a razor sharp knife
And then if we fell...
If we fell
Extreme love, ripped out hearts
Bent and broken into splinters and shards
Recreated again and again, as the Sun and the Moon in the sky that we drink into our very bones and skin every night!
And we breathe, into knowing
These glimpses of perfection that are gone too soon
Because to Live is to feel, to Love, to risk, and to bleed
But Now, but here and Now
Growing into wholeness, this womanhood, this thoroughly scarred and
It's a want, not a need, I am already all I desire to Be
All the while, holding fast to my hopes and Spring-time dreams
that are also Me, yes, these are also Me,
as sure as the Sun, the Sky, the Birds, the Trees
An awakened woman will dance only with those
who can heal on their own, in the way she has learned:
painfully, slowly, deliberately, energetically
We must hear our own heart-songs, first,
before we attempt to make music together
Despite our hunger, despite our thirst
As some of you know (or not), I run a writer's workshop, one Saturday per month, at my library. It was just something that needed to be, the community clamored for it, so I started it. And I always look forward to it, not just for the prompts and the writing, but... the people. Who will the universe lead to our doors...today?
Today, we were blessed with Jim "Poppa" Kelly. He's written a few books on his own, already. He's an older gent, lost most of his hair and walks with a cane. His ball cap says that he served in the Korean War. His smile is full of Life, wisdom, gratitude, and humor. He smells like my grandfather, whom I haven't seen in many years. He taught me, unabashedly, how to anchor my weight, with one foot behind me in a lunge position, to sturdy myself and help lift him from his chair to a standing position. He said I was quite strong. Oh yeah... :-) :flexes: Don't let the frilly blouse fool you.
We had a small group, just three of us, so I was happy to let him ramble. Yet, it wasn't ramble. I wish you could've been there to listen.
SO much, so much he's seen. Done. Experienced. The wisdom, the perspective. Grace. From his growing up in Queens, to living on a boat, in Florida, and then back up north, parking it on the north shore, not far from here, in another old, quaint, coastal village. He just dripped with enthusiasm and gratitude for being alive, and for all he's done and accomplished in life. And his True Love. (Which is also the name of his boat.)
He explained how he met his wife of 60+ years, and I'm paraphrasing: "I met her at a dance, at the church. She was with someone else, I was with someone else. We passed each other and that was it. I dreamed of her every night. Every night for a week... and then I went back to the church. And waited, and waited... I knew I had to see her again, I knew... finally, as I had given up and walked toward the door to leave... she came in. And we danced all night. We talked, on and on. We've never been apart, since."
Something inside melted. My eyes turned glassy. Not everyone has that experience with love. Only in the movies we watch, the girl at the end of the table and I thought. But Poppa Jim says... he got lucky, the first time. Sometimes, we need to circle around a bit until we're ready.
It was moving, beautiful, open, and inspiring. So many stories to tell, I just wish you could've seen it, felt it: rapt in your chair hanging on every ounce of Truth. Nods of clarity. Smiles that come with new perspectives on repeating issues, meaning that bubbles up through confusion. The simplicity, the sheer simplicity and joy of being that this man had shown to me. It changed me.
I so adore talking with these older folks, it's always a treasure. I am full up, and writing, and dreaming with an open heart. Today's free-write revitalized my faerie story, with a new twist. A good day, a really good day, despite the cold. It's warm in here. Not hot and raging, not cold and withdrawn. Just...warm and hopeful. Blissful and balanced.
And I can't wait for next month's session to get another fix. <3
Thanks "Poppa." What a delight you are, I do you hope you come back in April.