Do not go gentle into that good night

The title above comes from the Dylan Thomas poem and I encourage you to take a moment and follow the link and listen to it.  It’s about death and dying, not a particularly popular topic for the young, but the ghost that haunts anyone past fifty.  I am only fifty-six but thoughts of Social Security, Medicare, retirement and getting old invade my thinking regularly.  We Baby Boomers tend to believe everything is about us, but I’m finding it interesting to watch the generation before ours get old and see how they face death.  This generation is sometimes called The Silent Generation, but I’m starting to hear quite a racket from them.

The Baby Boomers were born from 1946-1964, and the Silent Generation are from 1925-1945, basically from Paul Newman through Pete Townshend, giving a whole new meaning to the song, “My Generation.”  The generation before them were the G. I. Generation (1900-1924) that included my parents.  So the Silent Generation are those people who were college kids when I was little, and the driving force of the pop culture we Boomers grew up with.  Now they are number one on the runway ready to take off for that famous unknown destination.  I, and all of my generation, have a lot to learn from them.  And what got me focused on this group, is this bit of humor.

Awhile back I discovered a great site, Time Goes By, to observe this generation, the brain child of Ronni Bennett and her promotion of Elder News.  She doesn’t like the label elderly because it implies frailty, and prefers old or elder.  Ronni focuses on elder blogging and through that I am finding doorways to the people of the Silent Generation.    Interestingly, Ronni lists Auxiliary Memory in her blog roll called ElderBlogs – and by her definition I’m in the elder group, and I’m happy to be so.  Her site is for the Silent Generation but includes us Boomers who right behind them.  The Internet is generally thought of as a hang-out for the geeky young, but Ronni often points out her elder crew are one of the largest growing segments.

I wished I was retired and had all the time in the world to read all the RSS feeds from Ronni’s ElderBlogs.  These are people I identify with, and people exploring issues and experiences I’m exploring now, or better yet, people who are going through experiences I’m will soon experience.

I constantly tell friends my age about blogging but they say they don’t have time, or they aren’t into computers, or friendships you make online aren’t real – but I’m finding the movement of Elder Blogging to be a major cultural trend and feel my friends are missing out.  It makes me think back to high school days when my hippie friends felt too cool to go to the proms.  I know now I missed out by being too cool.  I think my friends are missing out by thinking the blogging world as being too young, too geeky, or even too impersonal.

Ronni is onto something by making her reporting beat the elder bloggers.  I think the people expressing their feelings on her ElderBlogs sites represent a new social bonding that is just as real as any connections made at church, bridge clubs, retirement homes or in bars.  Sure, it lacks the warmth of intimate friendship, but so does most of our day to day social contacts.  Where blogging shines is hearing the deeper thoughts of people, thoughts beyond the surface topics you often hear at work like “did you see the game last night,” or “think it’s going to rain tomorrow.”  Blogging allows you to get to know a lot of strangers in a way you’d normally not in real life – just click down Ronni’s list of Elder Bloggers and see what I mean.

Jim

6 Responses

  1. A year or two ago, we had several long discussions about blog friendships at Time Goes By (must be time to resurrect it) and the consensus was that blog friendships are as close, warm and important as our “real world” friendships.

    For my part, about half the people I hold most dear now, I’ve met in the blogosphere and I’ve met quite a few now in person. There is one I speak with on the phone three or four times a week. Others I speak with less frequently, but regularly.

    Some have come to stay with me for a few days or we’ve had dinner and spent a day together when they’ve come through town.

    Elderblogging offers (among other important good things) a chance to expand our social circles when, after retirement, there is less opportunity to meet new people, families may live thousands of miles away and old friends die.

    There’s a PhD these waiting to be done on this phenomenon ;-)

    Thanks for all the nice things you say about Time Goes By…

  2. Oops. That’s “thesis” in the next to last sentence, not “these”.

  3. Like you, I’ve been thinking about getting old. It doesn’t seem to matter how much superannuation I have or what else I do, things are going to be volatile and I might not have enough to pay for the lifestyle I want.

    My daughter told me tonight I don’t have to worry about it. The next house she buys will be a lowset brick that I can retire into. That way my houses can be rented out to give me an income and I can pay rent for hers. She’s got it all worked out. Now we just have to find a house that’s not too far away from her. At the moment we live two suburbs away from each other and it simply isn’t close enough. She wants something within a 10 minute walk so she can drop in whenever she wants.

    On one hand I think she’s sweet to be planning for my retirement just as fiercely as I am, but on the other hand I’m sad about it. I don’t like the idea of becoming a burden for her. She’s my only child so there’s no one else to share the difficulties my old age will bring. I don’t like that. It’s not her job to look after me, although I know she will – and she’ll be annoyed if I try to stop her. I’ll just have to make sure I’m as prepared as I can be so the pressure on her is as little as it can be. She deserves to live her own life, not have my needs impact on everything she does.

  4. She really did catch the brass ring on this. There is a really good interview of Ronnie Bennett over at Ecumen’s Changing Aging blog. I’d read it if I were you, I did :).

  5. Thanks Nocat, for the link. I did go and read it. Ronni always impresses me. I recommend to people that they Google Ronni Bennett and do a search for her over on YouTube. It’s fun to see her on video. I recommend http://www.timegoesby.net/ to all my friends.

    A lot of my friends don’t want to think about getting older, but I like being prepared. I think old age will be a bumpy ride like childhood. I’m only 56, and have been floating down a placid river for years, but now I’m sensing the rapids ahead. I’m starting to guess that seeing old people is deceptive. They look quiet and sedate, but I bet a lot is going on in their heads.

  6. I am a ‘young’ person compared to the vast majority who contribute to this site but was drawn in by the post by James Harris’, Do Not Go Gentle…
    Thirty Nine years and somehow, with only what seems as ‘dumb luck’ at my side, I’ve remained undefeated vs. life’s maladies and other life stuff. I only can hope to contribute something remotely close to meaningful and I will try and make it short because after reading through just this one page, I can make a fairly sound deduction that I am not nearly as interesting, am a 1st time blogger(?) and have likely already violated all the etiquette involved.

    To the point, I was led here by searching for the famous D. Thomas poem and read the aforementioned post. Then followed to Ronni Bennett’s, Imagining Life Without a Middle Class. Immediately, I wanted to post a compliment. These thoughts validated my own and I often doubt my own assumptions until further research is made. Common sense and hard truth seemed to glare down the road we seemed to be head and once again focus on the reasons we are on it.

    I enjoyed the section, The Big Picture and I believe the post in it’s entireity to be dead on. Also, I am fascinated with how each generation from pre-G.I. to post baby boomer faced obstacles in a collective sense and how we strayed from the path of self preservation, as we see today.

    Please know that I am not waxing poetic anything remotely political, religious or idealogical. There are however, questions that I have that run deep through my conciousness. Like – Despite the fact that we can see the symptoms and understand the source of what is truly tearing away at the economy, health and future, why do we let it continue and what do we do?

    While in Nice, France during a rare chance to live with a girl-friend that I had met here in the U.S., I was engaged in a light-hearted conversation with some new friends native to Nice. They were all reasonably to well educated and of all different ages. As you would expect there were some harsh criticisms of the ‘ways’ of Americans along with some compliments too. Upon a common question on the behaviour of people from the U.S., I thoughtfully remarked that “The United States can be thought of as say, the teen-agers/young adults of the world. We are boundless in our energy and full of passion. We know all the latest dances, have an endless love of music, theater and strive to be the inventor of ‘the next big thing’ be it good or bad. We continously push the limits of our extreme ideologies, work harder, play harder and when challenged or tested – will break down any door to save the damsel in distress and ever-confident that we can save the world for all of us, despite what may be any obvious limitation. We are also stubborn and sometimes seem wreckless or misguided but – in the end our intention is good.”

    The older adults in at the table sat with a gentle grin and the younger looked across at me with a blank gaze that erupted in a good laugh. They all seemed to agree though and an unsaid appreciation seemed to follow.

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