Every generation it seems has its own label these days. There was the “Me” generation, generation “X”, the “Baby Boomers, etc. Now there’s generation “screwed”, referring to our grandchildren. But there’s another generation everybody’s forgot about. Let me tell you about it.
An Ojibway Elder once told me that there are four recognizable generational stages in life. He actually called them the four hills of life’s journey. The first stage is infancy he said, where one soaks up knowledge and information necessary to maneuver in the upcoming what’s to come. We soak up everything around us holus bolus without reasonin’ or examinin’ its efficacy. The next stage is adolescence. This is where we begin to test out the things we have so far learned but not proven. We all know what a disaster THAT stage is. It’s a well known fact that with the onset of puberty, one’s brains leak out one’s ears and we are left rudderless to steer our useless selves (except for those smart ass adults who keep correcting us). By the time we get through these turbulent years of absolute idiocy and our brains start functionin’ again, we suddenly realize the magnitude of our folly, and our parents and Elders become a little smarter than they used to be. An’ it’s a good thing too because we suddenly realize that we’re goin’ to need all the help we can get in order to get through this other stage called adulthood.
Even the Ojibway acknowledge that this is the most difficult stage of life. Scratchin’ and clawin’ one’s way through adulthood has never been easy. Whether you’re chasin’ down a buffalo herd on the prairie or flippin’ hamburgers at MacDonalds, it’s just a bloody rat race, filled with politics and plain hard work. Not pretty, that’s fer sure.
Well, you finally get to hang up yer skates an’ embark on the gentle down slope into old age – the “golden” years they call it. Now you’ve got it made! Ha ha! It might be all right if your damned hip wouldn’t a’ broke, or if your barrel chest hadn’t fallen down to yer waist, or ya didn’t have’ta get up every hour of the night for a wiz, or any number of other ailments you never use’ta have.
Fool’s gold is what that is. An’ then you discover there’s another little hill. It’s not very big, but it goes almost straight up! HALLELEUJAH! The hill of obsolescence, that’s what it is. By now everybody’s forgot about you, well except in an archaeological sense. Your picture was put up on the top shelf long ago an’ is gatherin’ dust. They figure yer too old to do much harm to yerself so they don’t worry. Well – talk about yer freedom! Now you can really do all the things you always wanted. Not really ‘cause yer too old an’ decrepit, but it don’t matter. Yer pride went south along with everythin’ else anyways. If you can’t do it, you just imagine it an’ that’s good enough. That way, when you go to sleep for the very last time, it’ll be a peaceful sleep. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.