Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Going Back to Byrds, Bosch, & ?


I think I'm goin' back to the things I learned so well in my youth. 
I think I'm returning to those days when I was young enough to know the truth. 
Now there are no games to only pass the time. 
No more electric trains, no more trees to climb. 
But thinking young and growing older is no sin. 
And I can play the game of life to win. 
Growing Older is no sin
I can recall a time when I wasn't ashamed to reach out to a friend. 
Now, I think I've got a lot more than just my toys to lend. 
Now there's more to do than watch my sailboat glide, 
But every day can be a magic carpet ride. 
A little bit of courage is all we lack. 
So catch me if you can, I'm goin' back.
by Carol King and Gerry Goffin

When the above song came out I was sixteen and like viewing the Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch, I get it on a much deeper level now -- the joy of experience, the wonder and suffering of life, and liberation from status seeking with cars and money.  My magic carpet is soaring into the unknown and the previously known.  Sometimes goin' back is living here and now.  
Garden of Earthly Delights, El Bosco

Invited to a showcase from a new friend's improv class, inertia had me in its death grip.  I tend to be a stuck freak, comfortable with routine.  Coaxed out by loyalty to my friend and desire to support, I jumped on my bicycle and rolled to the Promenade.  On the stage in a small theater in a back alley, I enjoyed the class project of a dozen young people encased in bodies varying in age from 20 to 65.  Each one took a turn at improvising on suggestions from the audience.  

lt takes courage to get up in front of an audience without a script.  The older characters in the line up were living the message, thinking young.  Being willing to do something new and getting in front of people with it.  They shined a light on my definition of wisdom:  where experience meets heart.  A well was dug to the freshness and wonder of youth and tempered with the courage of age.  Like the Byrds said, it is no longer about how many toys (money) I have.  Refirement gathers the remnants of experience and joins them with the curiosity of youth.  What's next?  What can I bring to the party that is more than my toys?

As the largest generational cohort we can still be different and make a difference.  We can revive youthful ideals of freedom, creativity, nature respecting, and community.  But how can we temper our idealism of youth with the wisdom of maturity.  What does it look like to be free?  Can we live creatively?  How can I best serve to those in need?  What can I do to heal the natural environment?

We were known as the Me Generation in the eighties and nineties with the motto of 'winner have more toys.'  After the persistent economic and cultural insecurities of late, it is time to re-frame our generational concept to the We Generation.  We were once free and together. We cared about the world and enjoyed our music.  We have so much more to give than to go off into the sunset quietly.  A conference in Santa Fe scheduled for August 2012, Navigating Your Future, addresses this theme.  When a friend informed of this event, she added, 'We're Not Done Yet.'  Maybe sixty is the new twenty.

Let's dust off those old dreams of a better world for you and me.   We can recapture the spirit of hope and possibility of youth.  Elderhood can be an odyssey of reviving or discovering that lost spirit and applying it to career/ work, relationships/ community, recreation/ hobbies, social/ political transformation, spiritual awakening.  A notable political scientist, Bill Pray, offers an approach to activating for social change in his recent book, What Can I Do?  In it he lays out a detailed strategy for personal empowerment that counters the prevailing climate of aridity and cynicism.  

Together we can summons the courage to take that leap into the positive future we dreamed of.  Join me for another wild and wonderful magical mystery trip.  I am considering a return trip to the Prado in Madrid to see if El Bosco is still a doorway.  Perhaps to Paradisio in Amsterdam.  Where ever you wander be open to the unexpected thrill of painting a fresh canvas in this thing called life.

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