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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Why Boomers Are Itching to Get Out (it’s not what you think)

The pandemic-battered world is cautiously beginning to open up again, like a turtle thrusting its neck out to test the air. With businesses unlatching their scrubbed and sanitized doors, wouldn’t you think it would be the young and the restless who’d be charging out of the gate?

How about the old and the agitated instead.

Someone at CDC or WHO or WHAZAT scratched a line in the viral sand and put all of us Over Sixty eggs in the same basket to be coddled. Forget the mantras popular back in the good old days (that would be February) —

You’re only as old as you feel.”

Biological age doesn’t matter; It’s your cellular age that counts.”

There are six myths about old age: 1. That it’s a disease, a disaster. 2. That we are mindless. 3. That we are sexless. 4. That we are useless. 5. That we are powerless. 6. That we are all alike.” —Maggie Kuhn (founder of the Gray Panthers movement)

Suddenly, we who are plus-sized age-wise MUST STAY HOME lest we come to harm.

We get it, we do. The public health and governmental officials are fighting an unseen enemy that disproportionately targets the AARP population, so to keep us safe they lock us down.

Some of us Boomers rebelled in the 60’s and 70’s just because we could. We grew our hair, tie-dyed our shirts, vexed our parents, protested the war. and rebelled against authority.

And then we grew up and became the authorities.

We are teachers, writers, preachers. We run businesses, treat patients, craft laws and enforce them. We raised kids and did the best we could with them, hoping and praying they’ll do better with theirs. We’re not fighting the system anymore because we are the system.

But we’re also watching the darkening sky, holding a finger up to the wind. The days are moving quickly, the decades piling up around our feet like clothes that no longer fit. The years that remain are hoarded treasure. We have projects to complete and places to reach and people to love beyond the borders of home. We can no longer afford to spend our life currency carelessly.

We’ve not lived this long without gathering wisdom along the way. Boomers have been reading the paper since there were daily papers. We know what those responsible for the public good are urging and we’re on it. We’re keeping our distance, washing our hands, wearing our masks.

The law of love, the greatest commandment, points the way. It’s not about our rights but your protection. We’ll do whatever’s necessary to keep others safe.

But you’ve heard them, too – the snarky jokes, the exasperated sighs, the label “Boomers!” expelled like an epithet. The young not grasping why their elders aren’t content to stay home where we can huddle safe from the enemy, the companionship of the television for company.

How can we explain that we weren’t made to sit, but to serve? That we who were raised by the Greatest Generation feel the urgency to do what we can for the next generation while there is still any greatness left in us? That our minds, like our bodies, are finite, our capabilities no longer under warranty, our knees and hips and joints bearing expiration dates?

How can we explain that we who have lived this long are sensitive to the seasons? We’ve more dawns behind us than before us. We’ve watched the sun arc bright across the noontime of our lives. And now, as weeks lengthen into pandemic months, the sun is dipping behind those hills we’ve spent our lives ascending. Once twilight descends, there is no going back, no doing over. Time is the one resource that is not renewable.

We are your parents, your grandparents. Your mentors, teachers, friends. Your neighbors, volunteers, caregivers. We want to be of use before we take what we know out of time into eternity where it won’t be needed any longer.

We are the Boomers. And we’re eager to get out of the house again.

We're Boomers, and we still have a few hills left to climb.

Copyright Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2020. Permission granted to share with attribution.

Maggie's first book, This Life We Share, has just released from NavPress. You're invited to order here.

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