BoomerCafé’s friend and Ranter-in-Residence, Maryland’s Carrier Slocomb, might be more of a philosopher than we thought. As a grown-up baby boomer, he has long seen himself as Mr. Know-It-All. But as he now sees more clearly than ever, maybe he’s not. Maybe we’re not. Maybe there are some markets of wisdom that our generation alone doesn’t own.
I’m embarrassed admitting something this damning, but it seems that I risk becoming irrelevant.
Naturally, your response would be, “Say it ain’t so, Carrier!” Sorry, but the stats are in and the results are clear: I’m bound for the storage chest, closet, or dark part of the basement if -– and it’s a big IF -– I don’t find a better way of sharing all that hard-won wisdom I’ve gathered over the years.
In the field of advising young adults about how best to fix their chaotic lives, Ialways thought I excelled with extraordinary pertinence. Now it seems I don’t. Let’s go to the stats, shall we?
Caroline and I have seven adult children. Most live nearby and one is house-bound more than he’d like to be because he’s eighteen. The others stop in often-– Sunday dinners, chats, birthday parties; sometimes they just drop out of the sky when they need an item that only a rental center or parent can provide. We love our kids, every last one of them, and we’re here to help them over their endless rough patches. They in turn guide us whenever new technology stops us dead. It seems comfortably symbiotic, doesn’t it?
Now comes the ouch part. The wisdom I preach and that which our kids actually deem pertinent have diverged. Those days of drilling valuable lessons into their heads are gone. Saddest of all, I come from a thousand generations of vocal know-it-alls, so imagine my bruised ego seeing all that brilliant advice falling on deaf ears?
I think I know why this is, but let’s go back for a little local color first. A zillion years ago, when time moved slower, my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins used to give advice as freely as they gave us corn and squash after a summer’s visit. There was a little grove below my grandparents’ place where an adult would lead us whenever one of us kids went astray. There, the chosen adviser would reach out to guide us off our path to Hell. Sometimes we listened; other times we didn’t. No matter, they always gave us their best, not because our parents begged them to, but because they were happiest reconfiguring any life that was not their own.
As I said, that was a zillion years back and a lot’s changed since then, hasn’t it? But wisdom gained by hard-won experience should never devalue; it should rise in price. Is it me, or is there a widening gulf in wisdom dividing us from those generations coming up from behind?
Is it possible that the wisdom I give is irrelevant because our era’s been so outpaced-– so totally left behind by today’s techno-fueled culture— that I’ve become some character from the history books?
Then again, what’s good advice worth if it’s not pertinent and relevant to the era we find ourselves in? Ah, here’s the rub-– the era l learned most of my lessons in seems like ancient times to younger ears, so why shouldn’t our best and brightest have trouble both interpreting and absorbing it?
Being the top know-it-all in 2014 might be too much to shoot for. Maybe what I should go for isn’t owning the entire market on wisdom, but rather some small niche instead? Ya think?