I know you are but what am I | Chuck Sigars

 

February 13, 2020



A million years ago, a coworker told me about her dream. I was mildly curious, if only because we were collegial only, not really friends.

And because the dream was about me. That’ll always get my attention.

It was casual and quick. She just mentioned that she’d experienced a strange dream the night before, in which she and I were riding around in the backseat of her daddy’s car on his farm. That was it. Just a snippet of unconsciousness, only odd because the two of us, as I said, weren’t particularly close.

I remember this now for a good reason – one year later, the two of us were married, visiting her parents in Texas, and riding around in the backseat of her father’s car as he gave us a little tour of his farm.

It was less theatrical than I make it sound, because it always is. We didn’t even connect the dream to reality at the time; we remembered it after the fact.

And we could just be making this up. It could be a shared delusion, a little tweak of the timeline to produce a symmetrical mystery, but I don’t believe that. I think it happened. I don’t know anything else, other than my wife claims to have had other moments of premonition.


I’m a sympathetic skeptic. I tend to listen to stories like this politely and walk away quickly. I have enough trouble with reality without introducing alternatives, although I’m selectively dismissive.

For example, I believe people talk to the dead, absolutely. I just don’t believe that the dead talk back, or pay much attention. As I said, it’s a selective thing.

Then there’s astrology, a subject I’ve made more jokes about than probably anything else other than Adam Sandler. I can trace this to my formative years and some exposure to Carl Sagan, who had plenty of sarcasm stored up when it came to horoscopes and this particular pseudoscience.

I have no doubt that astrology holds the same validity as alchemy, itself widely assumed to be an actual science in antiquity. But I don’t have all the answers, the universe is mostly unknown to us, and I can’t find a reason to care much.

And I should mention that I’m a member of, and regularly attend, a Christian church. There are some wacky things going on in church, if you’re inclined to examine. I tend toward living and letting live when it comes to stuff we profess to believe.

We all know people who subscribe to peculiar ideas, and that’s without looking in the mirror. People who believe in conspiracy theories of all sorts. People who get their palms read regularly, or buy over-the-counter cold remedies, or who can talk your ear off about gluten. I’ve got my weird stuff. Let’s all just get along.

And I’ll tell you this: I’d much prefer to listen to someone musing over Mars and its effect on their plans for the day than one who insists on talking about generations.

You know what I mean. Boomers versus Millennials. X-ers against Y-ers. The Lost Generation, the Silent Generation. The Pepsi Generation (I think this is me).

I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t speak of such things, believe it or not.

When I was a child in the 1960s, the college students with their long hair and smoldering draft cards were referred to as “the youth,” not Baby Boomers. That term wasn’t even used in our modern understanding of it until 1970.

And it wasn’t until 1991, when William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote “Generations,” that we began categorizing. The two authors postulated a cyclical nature to humanity, a complex system that has been lauded by some and derided by many, many others, but it got us talking.

Oh, it’s fascinating stuff. It’s just not science.

I could simplify this to make an easy joke, but someone beat me to it. A few weeks ago, Jay Mathews wrote a piece in the Washington Post about his particular birth cohort, known as the Silent Generation, born between 1928 and 1945. He was arguing for their importance or lack of respect, something I didn’t quite understand.

He also mentioned that his was an intergenerational marriage, as he’s married to a Boomer. He said sometimes they joke about this, about their different outlooks and personalities.

They were born one year apart. Hence no need for me to find a joke.

We can’t even agree on the boundaries. Most people seem to think that Baby Boomers consist of people born between 1946 and 1964; Strauss and Howe defined it as 1943-1960, so pick your boomer. Once again, this is not science. You can be whatever you want.

I’m a Millennial, I’ve just now decided. Give me a participation trophy and call me entitled. It’s fun!

This is what makes me crazy. Like Mr. Mathews and his boomer wife, we’re in danger of slipping into generalizations based on arbitrary data. If history is any indication, and it always is, blanket generalizations of entire groups of people based on trivial details rarely ends well.

If it ends at all.

Younger people resent older people. Older people aren’t crazy about the youth. None of us like the world as it is. All of us would be happy to find someone to blame.

I’d like to suggest Adam Sandler. He’s a Virgo, so he probably deserves it.

 

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