Schlepping through the sands of time

My 6-year-old grandson, like all people his size, can often be full of wisdom far greater than his age.

But not all the time.

This past weekend, for example, he told me quite candidly that the silver color of the foil sun shade I unfold and put in my car window was, "I'm sorry to say ... dorky."


Blue or red would be much cooler, I was informed. But silver? C'mon Grampa. Get with it.

Get with what? What's wrong with silver? And what's wrong with me that I don't know that?

This got me to thinking about what else this little guy might find in my world so amusingly uncool. Probably a lot of things.

For a start there's my clothes, my hair style, my jokes and my choice of music and food. This I know from past comments that slipped into an otherwise innocuous conversation.

True, I have no idea how to play a video game or work the DVD player. This, too, has been observed and pointed out. And, unlike him, I enjoy taking naps. Often.

He still loves me, but ... c'mon Grampa. Silver?

I felt that way about my parents, whom I found so hopelessly out of touch and ill-prepared for the present — to say nothing of the future. It's not that they were marching to a different drum. They couldn't even hear the drum. How did they manage to get through the day? The older and more fragile they became, the more they seemed to belong almost to another species.

Parents, too, have been known to find their offspring's generation lacking in awareness of the world around them and ill-prepared to carry the torch of human development into the future. What is the world coming to — if anything?

This also happens when young co-workers don't understand your references to the not-too-distant past. There are vast pools of people, films, plays, songs and events that are not on young people's radar. They can't even see the blips. Talk about another species — they may as well be from another planet.

Whenever the generation gap rears its ageist head, I take heart in recalling the things my generation has experienced that either no longer exist or else only inhabit the arcane landscape of "the elderly" or (shudder) in museums.

The current issue of AARP The Magazine has a great article along these lines by many contributors titled, "50 Reasons to Love Being 50+." The article begins with the exhortation, "Don't be embarrassed about passing the half-century mark — be smug! Feed your superiority complex here."

Thanks. As someone who passed the half-century mark more than a decade ago, I think I will. Here are a few choice selections inspired by that article:

Because gray looks good. Really. Think of it as non-dorky silver.

Because we've experienced more years of life, we tend to be more compassionate toward others' pain and foibles.

Because we get better at crossword puzzles since we have larger vocabularies. After all, there are all the names of things we grew up with that aren't around any more, like mimeograph machines.

Because if Keith Richards can make it into his 60s, there's hope for all of us.

Because our music rocks. It has a recognizable melody and you can sing it without having to scream. And we experienced the Beatles.

Because love grows more profound over time. Marriage deepens and there are our grown children, their spouses and our grandchildren to love.

We know time is not on our side. Even though we're living longer than ever before, we watch as our parents and friends die. It definitely changes your priorities.

Because "¦ Paul Newman. What else can you say?

Because our spiritual side grows stronger. It has been tested and proven true.

Because we are powerful. Forty-one percent of American adults are over 50, the highest percentage in U.S. history and 50-plus adults account for 45 percent of U.S. consumer spending, or $2.1 trillion per year.

Because we've seen the world change in inconceivable ways and very quickly. Some of us started life in a house without electricity, running water and phones.

Because our brain is more efficient. That's what the studies say, anyway.

Because we grew up in an age before video games and computers. We played outside a lot and we created imaginary games. We couldn't call or text message our friends, but somehow we managed to stay connected.

Does this make our generation better? No. Just different. We still have much to learn from the new generations that have come after us. That's the way it's supposed to work. As long as they don't think you're too weird to talk to.

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