Think about how much you know. Then think about how much you can teach. Then, think about who needs our hard-won wisdom. That’s what Cloverdale, California’s Marsh Rose has been thinking about. She put her thoughts together into an essay called, They Have Us!
Young people today have something that we baby boomers didn’t have: relationship advice from wise and experienced elders. In other words, they have us!
This was the down-side to having rewritten the rules about relationships the way we did. Once the dust had settled after the Summer of Love, we boomers found ourselves at sea when it came to our questions about love and, well, sex and everything. When we were confused about some aspect of our personal lives, we couldn’t do what young men and women have done since the Stone Age: ask our parents for advice. Can you imagine?
Me (or, You): “Mom, I went out with this new guy last night. He took me to a Dead concert and we had a good time but I think he dropped acid.”
My mom (or, Yours): “Well dear, your father always drops things too. Just pick them up for him. He probably has a lot on his mind. And my stars, I sat through some dead concerts before your father and I got engaged! Why, once I fell asleep right in the middle of Paganini’s Violin Concerto Number Four …”
It’s not that we were lacking for advice, per se. In fact, advice was the signature phenomenon of our generation. It was the self-help manual. They filled our big-box bookstores. These manuals were the go-to topographic maps for our support groups.
We read about our bodies, ourselves. We read about women being from Venus and men from Mars and we read about our personal problems in terms we never even knew existed -– frankly, because we made them up: codependency, erroneous zones, psycho-cybernetics. But reading a user’s guide doesn’t have the same impact as does sitting across the table from an experienced confidante, drinking tea and disclosing our travails.
And now? We have become the wise elders we never had. If we haven’t actually done all of those relationship things our ancestors couldn’t have imagined, we’ve certainly heard about them. Listen to any song by Bad Company, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors. The lyrical details about sex, drugs, and rock and roll leave nothing to the imagination.
So kids in their 20s and 30s should feel free to come to us when their love lives or simply their emotions about friends and family members take a turn for the bewildering, as all relationships must occasionally do. We’ll pour the hot or chilled beverage, pull out the chair, and give them our undivided attention as wise elders should.
We’ll offer them the benefit of our hard-won experience. Then all they need to do is take our advice and do as we say. Just … maybe not do as we did.