Boomer Reflections

As I write this column I’m sitting on the deck of a cottage overlooking the appropriately named Paradise Lake. Lots of time to think, perhaps too much?

I certainly could have begged off from doing this column - the editor was quite okay with that - but somehow my overdeveloped work ethic and conscientiousness meant I didn’t provide advance notice and therefore feel obligated to meet my regular deadline.

I’m also struggling somewhat, yet again, with the realization that I’m simply not very good at doing nothing. There’s an Italian phrase, “Il bel far niete” that means the beauty of doing nothing. I’m not quite there, but then again, I’m not totally convinced I want to be.

Like many other Baby Boomers though, I have realized that I have enough of everything.

I don’t need another house or a bigger house, more shoes, or exotic vacations. Okay maybe a few more shoes wouldn’t hurt. Nor am I going to be one of those obsessed with using creams and cosmetic procedures to stay young. After all, I’ve earned my wrinkles.

I know too that being here relaxing at the cottage with our kids and extended families is as good as it gets.

I’ve also learned that happiness is far more likely when I focus on what I can give, rather than what I can get. I think that means I’m now a Baby Boomer in recovery.

It’s been an exhilarating ride for us Boomers….overwhelming in our numbers, we absorbed the spirit and optimism of the times and barreled through life.

Each phase we’ve gone through has shaped community priorities. Boomers meant new subdivisions, schools, arenas, and swimming pools.

Today human services are wondering how they’re going to deal with our numbers, not to mention our anticipated longevity, and developers are focused on designing and building retirement communities to meet everyone’s needs.

As a generation that has become accustomed to being the centre of attention, perhaps though it’s our turn to think about how we can expand our potential for happiness.

Hindu philosophy suggests there are four phases of life. In the first, we are students who are being educated and learning about life. In phase two we are busy making a living, raising a family and being part of a community. Too often, we tend to do the first two and stop.

However, for Hindus phase three is a time for stepping back from life in order to question who you are and to think about life’s deep questions.

Finally in phase four, the intent is to return to the world without attachment, to serve others.

While I’m not suggesting everyone embrace a Hindu lifestyle, perhaps middle age can hold greater adventures in addition to those offered by playing golf or planning the next cruise.

While I can’t profess to be an expert on how exactly one goes about doing that, I do think it begins with getting in touch with what it is you’re passionate about. Sometimes that may even mean doing something that scares the heck out of you.

Regardless, it’s important that we as a generation spend time reflecting and figuring out how to give back.

Not sure about you, but I’d hate to think that Boomers go down in the history books as the generation that was too self-involved to leave the world in better shape than it was when they found it.

Posted on 07-11-08

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