The truth. And it hurts.

October 3, 2011

“I thought we were going to change the world.”

And there you have it: the saddest words ever spoken.

I have, in fact, recited that exact phrase to Viking Woman on numerous occasions as our Baby Boomer generation drifts ever closer to the shoals of retirement.

Although, to be fair, we did have some impact on our parents who, somewhat appropriately, were members of what is known as the Silent Generation. We shocked our moms and dads — with their conservative crewcuts, Bing Crosby albums, quaint ideas about monogamy and a tradition of women as little more than baby factories — by growing our hair and wearing what we wanted and sharing our bodies in drug-induced orgies of recreational sex.

We dropped out and turned on and cranked up the volume. We danced like crazed buggers and questioned authority figures and just generally refused to go to our rooms and stay there until we learned to behave ourselves.

We hadn’t been touched by war or the Great Depression and so saw no need for sending American teenagers to napalm Vietnamese civilians or save our pennies for a rainy day. We lived for right now because tomorrow might never come.

We organized protests and sit-ins and sang about the chimes of freedom and how a hard rain was coming. The times, we screamed from the rooftops, they were a-changing.

We were going to do things our way and gather in communes and let our children run naked and make our own clothes and grow our own food and harvest our own drugs and live in buses and learn to play the sitar and expand our minds and never trust anyone over 30.

We were, in short, going to rule the world.

Except, in the end, we didn’t.

In fact, it is only now, with the likes of Barack Obama, that we have politicians anywhere near our own age in power. Up to now, it’s still been our fathers and grandfathers who ruled us — those very same people we so vocally revolted against all those years ago.

Those were the days, my friend, and then they were gone and we are left with . . . well, what, exactly? Global warming? Suicide bombers? Hip- hop?

This wasn’t how it was supposed to turn out. This isn’t how we planned it.

So what happened? I wish I knew.

I was reminded of my Baby Boomer roots while watching the trailer for a new documentary called The Other F Word. It features interviews with punk rockers who, as members of Generation X, railed against society in their own safety pin-through-the-nose, mosh-pit-diving way.

They were going to grab the f***ing world by the motherf***ing throat and shake the living shit out of it!!! Or something like that.

Except — oh, look — they’ve suddenly realized they’re now in their 30s and appear well and truly confounded by the fact that, after spitting in the faces of their parents, they have somehow become parents themselves.

How much have these self-proclaimed anarchists — with their bodies and faces disfigured by tattoos, they look like they fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down – made an impact on the world? Not. One. Bit.

There is one universal truth these lamenting larrikins should impart to their children and it is this: Unless you invent Facebook or Microsoft or Apple, or inherit millions from daddy, your passage through life will make not the slightest ripple on history.

You don’t change the world, the world changes you. Sad but true.

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