Letter to Gen X

Dear Gen X,

Falling into dreams, I sometimes find my mind drifting to the the colors blurring on the spinning ride, and I see the boy with the scuff marks on his face.  

I was in elementary school and it doesn't matter which town I was living in at the time, because really, it was Anytown. It was getting late at the county fair and all the other kids had already gone home so it was just me and this one other kid standing in line for the ride. I was apprehensive about getting on, but he gently reassured me that I didn't need to be scared.

It was when I noticed the scuff marks on his cheek just below his eye (maybe from a brawl earlier that day) that I felt a certain affinity for this boy. It was the kind of connection you feel for a fellow traveler on a long journey. He was clearly a complex creature - simultaneously he was very tough and yet profoundly kind. As the ride began, we became smashed against the walls of the gravitron ride from the centripetal force.
So, boy with the scuffed face, you are forever a kid in my mind, but in real time you're now in your 40's - maybe you're living in a suburb somewhere, bearing the burdens of life, making the morning commute every day - whoever you are, I just found you, and this blog is for you. 

Everyone these days is going online and finding some person who was a part of an earlier time of their life, but here is an idea: intentionally finding just the symbol of someone - someone who is nameless and that always will be - someone that you only saw in passing but stayed in your memory because of what they represented, someone who could not be found with any database or app or algorithm of any kind.  I just found you. Since there were many others of you that had already been on that same ride that night but were gone by the time we got there - those of you that were home, somewhere in the drift of finishing your math homework, eating your microwave dinner, sitting on a bean bag, or watching your favorite show, to you, the other kids who had been there that night before me -  I just found you.

This blog is for anyone who feels they have spent their entire childhood and adult life with a relentless centripetal force pushing against you.  Being braver than most, you have protected the others and it is you who have reassured everyone else that they do not need to be scared. I feel a certain affinity for a generation of people who, I believe fully, will be one of the greatest generations in history. This blog is for you who are simultaneously tough and kind - often misunderstood because of your slightly rough exterior, yet you are really are the best of what human beings were made to be.

Sometimes in this reoccurring dream, I see this spinning ride from above, and I manage to pull my weightless body out further into the heights of the atmosphere. As I go higher, I can see all the lights of the county fair... moving.  I go higher and see all the lights of the city... motionless. Continuing even higher, I can see the glowing, connected beauty on a background of black -  a giant electrical grid - one that covers all of America and the world, the brightness that connects everywhere and shows us that we are all having the same connected experience within a moment in time.  

I remember you, Gen X - the way your face was scuffed, just as your heart was - I saw you buy the ticket for the ride. I saw you on your bike at dusk on weekend evenings, I saw you walking home from school on weekday afternoons with your latchkey in hand. I saw you in the airports, lonely, waiting at the gate with your Walkman and your backpack. 

Because of where you've been and where you're going, you're something amazing. And we're all about to see how amazing you really are.

-A fellow Gen Xer


And, while we are here, a few pieces of inspiration....

A world that initially stereotyped us in our youth as slackers and outsiders will now need our inside experience for the solutions to all its problems. A lot of the inspiration for this blog is about how Gen X is now finally stepping up as the new leaders of society.  Generation X seems to have been born right as the tides of history were changing, which means we have knowledge that spans two completely different eras of time. We grew up in a pre-tech world, and yet we were the first technologically literate generation - we're the ones who built the internet. Collectively we have extraordinary knowledge and experience and our leadership is exactly what the world now needs....

It's time to pull out the toolbox of your life experience

If you are Gen X, you probably watched an enormous amount of television growing up.  I wrote a paper in college on the influence of TV on Gen X. Nothing influenced us more (or possibly even taught us more than the TV). For better or for worse,TV taught you a lot about how the world works.

Gen X is known for doing temp work. This means that you may have worked in something like 50 -100 different work settings This gives you an enormous breadth of knowledge on the inner workings of businesses and organizations.  What you didn't learn from TV, you learned from temp work. TV and temp work were "your Harvard and your Yale." 

You were most likely a latchkey kid which means you got used to self-sufficiency and figured out all kinds of ways to solve problems on your own outside of the expected or prescribed way to solve them. The standard method of problem-solving in our world is evolving - you will be needed to step in and help with this.

You lived a transient lifestyle to some degree, either in your childhood or in your young adulthood.  By seeing a lot of the world, it has given you a lot of obvious insight into the bigger picture.

You have felt old since you were eight. This means getting old doesn't really scare you the way it does others. At least in some sense, you will be grateful when your hair is gray in that at least your outer being matches your inner one. Because you were an old soul from the start, you'll be coming into your own as you grow older.

You have a strong propensity toward morality. In spite of spending time in an environment void of morality or full of hypocrisy, you have found a way to tune into your own heart - because you had to.  Even if it took some trial and error, even if it still does, you are finding that compass within you to point you in the right direction. 

I hope that, even if in some small way, this blog can help you fine tune that compass. 
"If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and make you different from every other living creature."   
 -Bruce Barton     
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
 - Albert Schweitzer




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