Embrace the inner boomer—or not

How did it come to this? My generation, once the largest and most vibrant age group in America, is now in the process of entering the time of life known as aches, pains and the road to retirement. In fact, our demographic has always done things big, so we will be siphoning Social Security and Medicare money at a level never before seen in our history.

That’s right, The Baby Boomers, those of us born in the euphoric post-World War II years, 1946 to 1964, have gone from being oh-so-hip to needing hip replacements. The Boomers are now seniors.

I get chills and a wave of nausea just writing the word senior.

But here I am. My entire senior (there’s that word again!!!) high school class is turning into milestone territory this year, all observing the 10th anniversary of turning 50. So we decided to celebrate this month.

Why? Because at our 40th reunion we realized we weren’t sure how much fun it would be to wait until our 50th. We imagined name tags with 100 point fonts, for example. Besides, our group always loved a good party.

Disneyland and McDonald’s burst onto the national scene during the same year we came onto the scene. We were more than 76 million strong and were cool and cutting edge for what seemed like forever…or so we told ourselves. We also occasionally did lots of dumb stuff and learned the hard way. But what a life … so far.

Then “BOOM!” indeed. Where did the time go?

So much of what we knew to be Our Era, ahead of the rest of America, now seems so quaint. “Why, back in our day (hear me saying this in my best geezer voice), we had three TV channels, rabbit ears to tune in programs in black and white. Remember the excitement of shows suddenly being telecast ‘in living color?’” Music on AM Radio was awesome.

We were raised on Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Green Jeans, Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose. Davy Crockett hats, too (which reminds me to get mine fumigated… if I can even find it). It was the “Golden Age of Television.”

Milestone events come back to our minds like today’s news. Elvis, The Cuban missile crisis, the space race to the moon, JFK in Dallas, the Beatles, Vietnam and on and on through the “Summer of Love.” It was our time, and we were in charge.

If we took a poll of Boomers, most would agree there was not much really great music after sometime in the 1980s. But with our demo spanning the mid-1940s to early 1960s, that timeline can be very subjective. Suffice it to say rap music isn’t getting much play at our reunions.

So here we are. One day I’m the dorky Midwestern 9-year-old in horn-rimmed glasses, riding bikes and falling out of trees and now I’m a still-dorky “senior citizen” with a need to drive faster vehicles.

Experts will say, “You’re only as old as you feel.” So true, yet difficult to keep in mind when organizations like AARP start sending membership card applications about the time you turn 39. And yes, some days our muscles and joints have another message: Take a nap.

My message to fellow Boomers? Resist. As long as possible, don’t participate in the feeling of being “over.”

Don’t let the culture dictate your mood. Sharpen your sense of humor. Stay current. Read and relate. Embrace perspective and history.

Keep “short accounts” with God, and chat with the Almighty often. Know what really matters in life.

Be inspired by those who kept the pedal-to-the-metal until the Creator of the Universe said, “Time’s up.” My grandfather made it to his mid-90s. Ray Kroc starting hitting his prime after age 55, as did Ben Franklin (For those under 30, look ‘em up on Google). My friend Walter ran a major company until he was nearly 97.

And by all means, always nurture that 9-year-old geeky kid inside you, to help keep the oh-so-responsible adult in line. I’m working on turning that attitude into an art form.

Mark Larson

— by Mark Larson

Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. His voice is heard on KPRZ 1210AM, and his weekday talkshow airs mornings, 6-9 on KCBQ 1170AM. He’s also a news analyst on KUSI TV. Learn more at www.marklarson.com.

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