We baby boomers are nothing if not wiser. Not just about life, but as contributor Larry Checco writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, we’re wiser too about friends, and friendships. That’s why he willingly admits, he’s a RAT.
I’m a RAT!
I know … I know … what self respecting Boomer would make such a public confession, especially with so few years left for redemption?!
But in this case RAT stands for Readers And Thinkers, the name of my men’s book club.
Men’s book club, you say?
It’s surprising how many folks, men in particular, are taken aback when they hear that phrase and ask if it’s just a good excuse to get away from our wives and drink beer.
Au contraire. Fact is, we RATS have been meeting for nearly 20 years and have read more than a hundred books, many of which I would never have thought about picking up on my own.
Ironically, however, it’s neither the reading nor the thinking that I enjoy so much as the male camaraderie the group provides.
Another fact is, many of us Boomers, as we move deeper into Boomerism, are toiling with reinventing and repurposing ourselves, searching for new meaning in this new life stage we find ourselves in. And as I talk with others in my age cohort, especially males, I’m learning that a lot of them feel isolated and alone in this journey.
Many, for example, are retired, or semi so, and have lost the connections, relationships, and structure that work environments provide. Others are grappling with empty nesting, broken marriages, or ill health, which often leads to further seclusion.
Still others, myself included, miss the socialization that coaching or attending our kids’ sporting events once engendered, including the adult friendships formed at those competitions, many of which have dissipated over time.
Insidious isolation seems to come with getting older. This, combined with slowly depleting energy levels and downright laziness, makes it a lot easier to veg on the sofa and watch TV alone in the evenings than it is to arrange a social outing with friends, something we are all guilty of from time to time.
Enter the RATs.
Over the years we’ve morphed from being a gaggle of guys with a common interest in reading into a brotherhood of good friends, an active social network and built-in support group.
The books we read are as eclectic as we are— a couple of bio statisticians and IT guys, educators, a lawyer, a lobbyist, and economist, a communication consultant.
Whether they are good fiction, biography, classic novel, best-seller, history, or whatever is irrelevant, the books are just launching pads into wide-ranging discussions about everything under the sun— and whether we’re aware of it or not, they help us think through our personal journeys of reinvention and repurposing ourselves.
In times of personal crises, we also serve as good, trustworthy, confidential sounding boards for each other, which is reassuring.
So yes, I’m a RAT, and glad of it.
(And to my fellow RATs, I don’t want to hear a word of criticism when I serve my favorite vintage boxed wine at our next meeting.)