We've all heard people talk about the "olden days" or their "glory days," as if they were only yesterday. When you stop to ponder what they're saying, it occurs to you, or to me, at least, Time has stopped for them. It seems like life hasn't impacted them one iota. They appear to be stuck in some moment, forgotten by Time.
My first inclination is to feel sorry for these people, who are stuck and tied to a way of life that no longer exists. I adore reading historical accounts and often long for simpler times, if they ever truly existed, but am fully aware of my temporal surroundings. Once those thoughts pass through my gray matter, I chuckle to myself. What these people are so passionately expounding upon is at root, amusing, especially the manner in which they profess these matters.
I call this phenomenon, The Grumpy Old Man Syndrome. You've probably all seen the type a million times. That old codger, who sits on his porch, wearing a plaid suit, with a burning stogie in one hand and a tall glass of lemonade in the other, while screaming at the neighborhood kids to stay off his "damn lawn!"
Hey, that old fart could be me. Anyway, that is one piece of the picture. The other piece is every other sentence, coming from the grumpy guy's mouth begins with, "Back in the day..."
This phenomenon has invaded the workplace. It has manifested in the form of a war between "The Youngs" and "The Olds." Maybe this conflict has always existed. It just seems to be more prominent now, as I have joined the ranks of The Olds.
The Youngs bring a new mindset to work, and they carry it on their sleeves, the cerebral manifestation of the devices that are all but surgically attached to them. They seem to think everything that came before is old fashioned and give the impression they want to reinvent everything, including the wheel. My dad calls this type, "educated idiots," and it wasn't so long ago when he accused me of being that sort.
The focus of The Youngs is on analytics and technology. To this group, every problem should be solved with some kind of computer technology. My dad, being the consummate grumpy old man, refers to these people as, "The kind of damn fools,who need to hang a picture on a wall. Instead of buying a hammer and a nail at the hardware store, they tell some damn contraption to hang the picture, go to work, and come home, fully expecting some magic to have occurred, and the picture to have been hung!"
I'm not saying computers don't have their place. Technology has transformed our lives in fundamental ways, and progress needs to happen. There needs to be a balance, and just because something is old, doesn't mean it's outdated or obsolete.
Wisdom comes from life experience. The Youngs don't have any of that because they haven't lived long enough, not yet, anyway. They need to go about their business and temper their energy with the wisdom of The Olds. Their time in the sun will come, as it had, for countless generations that came before them. After all, back in the day, The Olds were once The Youngs. Passing the torch and receiving the torch is a rite of passage, generations from the beginning of time have experienced. There is no shortcut to this age-old ritual.
On the other hand, The Olds are set in their ways and biding their time until retirement. They have no patience for newfangled ideas and don't want to be bothered with learning new ways of doing old tasks. There is some validity to the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
The Youngs need to keep in mind, The Olds have been to the circus and have seen the clowns, ate their fair-share of cotton candy, and have watched the puppets dance upon strings, since before The Youngs "were an itch in their daddy's pants." The cups of The Olds are filled to the brim with wisdom, only a lifetime of experience could ever garner. That should count for something, right?
The Olds don't have all of the answers, but that doesn't mean they don't have value to add to the work process. Think about all of the great works of art, created in the twilight of the lives of famous artists, and you'll rethink your attitudes about the productive potential of The Olds. There is much The Youngs can learn from The Olds, who, for the most part, want to pass on their knowledge. The Olds desire nothing more than to be seen as useful. Maybe, their grumpy exteriors get in the way of these desires, but nevertheless, on some level, this is what drives their bus.
Nobody wants to fade away and be forgotten. You've probably all experienced retirees coming back to the workplace to "talk shop." They aren't doing this to get in the way or waste the time of The Youngs. That is The Olds' way of trying to remain relevant, but most importantly, not forgotten.
The next time you see an old fart yelling at someone about something that seems silly to you, take the time to wave and say hi to the old codger. You might be surprised to see a smile upon the previously grumpy exterior. Another thing The Youngs can learn from The Olds is life is much too short to spend a lifetime running around like a chicken with its head cut off. A smile, a wave, and a greeting costs you nothing and may mean the world to someone who has been around the block a time or two. A conversation may even strike up, where you just might learn a thing or two.
For the moment, that's all that's fit to print, and now, you know the rest of the story behind The Grumpy Old Man Syndrome. Until we meet again, keep it dark and keep it real!
Exclamations and sayings are funny things. Everybody has their signature saying, the quote that makes that person unique. My dad's go-to expression regarding any business doing well at the moment of his patronage, is, "It's a gold mine!"
My late brother's favorite exclamation was, "BOOM!" There was no occasion he didn't find a use for it. In the morning, right after he took that first sip of coffee, you would hear from the kitchen, a howling, "BOOM!" When he thought of something new, he would yell, "BOOM!" At those times, when he needed a boost, his chest would puff with air and release, with a resounding, "BOOM!"
Hard to believe a person can be summed up in one word, but that was the case for my dear brother. Along with a love for camels, a penchant for bright clothing, and the way he referred to everyone as, "Chiefy," this battle-cry was an intrinsic part of him, written into every fiber of his being. When I decided to create a character to honor the memory of my brother, I gave this character, Trapper Dave, all of these qualities, especially, the "BOOM!"
Sunday night I went to see the greatest rock and roll band in the world, at least the one with the greatest longevity, The Rolling Stones. My daughter bought me a ticket as a Christmas present. Our seats were so close, I could all but smell the sweat dripping off of Keith Richards. Yea, the best gift ever!
Although I saw them twice before in the 1990's, their performance all but rocked my socks off. The energy of those men, all in their seventies, was something to behold. Mick Jagger didn't miss a beat and flounced around the stage like a peacock on the prowl. He looked like he was in his fifties. While watching his performance, it was hard to believe he had a heart procedure back in April. Because of Mick's medical condition, the concert had been postponed from June, and Mick apologized to the crowd for causing the postponement. The man is not only one of the greatest showmen to have ever walked onto a stage, but has class and style to boot.
The Stones rocked Gillette Stadium. The audience swayed and sang to the tunes these bards belted out, from the first note of Street Fighting Man to the last beat of Satisfaction. The concert had everything from pyrotechnics and fireworks to more heart and soul than any of us spectators deserved. The Stones did not disappoint in any way, shape, or form. The best way to sum up the experience is with a raucous, BOOM!
Personality quirks define the landscape of the human condition. Strands of weirdness run through all of us, connecting all of us to the Cosmic Tapestry. The Cosmos holds the strings, upon which we dance.
Some of us embrace our peculiarities, while others run from them. I don't know why anyone would flee their intrinsic nature, that which makes them who they are, but they do. The Cosmos has a plan for each of us. We only have to do our part by living our lives to the fullest extent possible. Not a hard concept to wrap our minds around, but to put that into practice?
Maybe, the unknown is what people find most unsettling. I, for one, appreciate the unexpected and wouldn't want it to be any other way. That's what makes life exhilarating and worthwhile. The thought of waking up, knowing what the day would bring, would be unbearably depressing. Something to ponder, until we meet again. In conclusion, make the most out of what The Cosmos has gifted you, and remember, when in doubt, shout out with the combined verve of my late brother and The Rolling Stones, BOOM!
Thanksgiving and Christmas may be the busiest times for airports, filling the skies with grumpy, holiday travelers. Black Friday may fill shopping malls and cyberspace with impatient shoppers. All of that can be debated and is discussed ad nauseum every year by the talking heads on our television sets.
There is one fact that is an incontrovertible truth. The week of July Fourth is the indisputable, hands-down, number-one week for vacations. Every year, during the course of this week of weeks, our nation's highways fill with road-raged, pleasure-seeking vacationers. They storm toward their destinations, and damn it, have a good time, before storming back home. For many, this is a yearly ritual, an American right, our birthright. If it's not written in the Constitution, it oughta be!
Although I'm not traveling to anywhere in particular this week, I will be sharing the highways of New England with my fellow Americans plenty enough over the course of the week. I already have taken to the blacktop express. This past weekend, my wife and I went on a doughnut run.
Big-city slickers might say New Hampshire is the definition of the middle of Nowhere. I would disagree, but what do I know? After all, I chose to live in New Hampshire on purpose, and not by some fickle, twist of fate like my car spontaneously exploding as I was traveling through some podunk town that is not on any map on my way to somewhere important. Lo and behold, there are no mechanics in the whole state, so here I am, some twenty-odd years later, still waiting for my car to be repaired. Sometimes that's what living in New Hampshire feels like. So close to civilization and all of its amenities, yet disconnected in some significant manner. On the way to somewhere, but at once, nowhere in particular.
My wife and I are vegans, and we woke up Saturday morning with a hankering for a doughnut. Just one, not a store full of them or anything crazy. You might think we could have found such a simple thing around the corner from where we live, but you'd be wrong. Everybody around here thinks doughnuts can't be made without eggs and butter. By the narrowing of their eyes and furrowing of their eyebrows when we explain to folks we are vegans, you'd swear veganism must be some form of disease.
You can almost hear the cogs and gears of their minds grinding to a halt. Something in them wants to express their frustration of not knowing what you are talking about, but not wanting to admit it either. After biting their lower lip for a moment or two, they manage to blurt out, "Then, you must eat fish."
Anyway, the closest place that sells vegan doughnuts is one state away, a two hour drive. As ridiculous as it sounds, my wife and I set off on a four-hour tour to go buy a doughnut. That's life in the sticks for you!
My wife and I didn't choose to steal food from the mouths of animals to make any political or social statement. I became a compost-eater as a means of managing my diabetes, and my wife joined me in solidarity, bless her heart. Despite what anyone says to the contrary, fruits and vegetables don't give you that WOW feeling other foods possess. Unless you have a medical reason for choosing a vegan diet, I don't recommend it at all, though drowning the garbage in condiments goes a long way to making it all edible. With that all said, you can live without eating any animal products just fine. Be prepared for strange dreams of gnawing on pets and the like, attempting to subliminally pull you back into the orbit of the carnivore. The body has a mind of its own and wants what it wants, and it ain't anything on a vegan menu.
In case you're wondering, yes, the doughnuts were heavenly. Whether they were worth the effort is debatable. I suppose, a similar analysis as to whether a five dollar milkshake is actually worth its cost. But oh, they were splendidly delightful!
Our next trek will no doubt be to see fireworks in some place or other. My wife so enjoys a good display. Fortunately, for her, we live in a state where the love of fireworks seem to be imparted into the DNA of every man, woman, and child born here. Those explosions of light and sound are so ingrained into the psyches of everyone that fireworks are blasted into the sky at every opportunity. No event occurs without them. Old Home Day, Pond Hockey Tournaments, the lighting of town Christmas trees, and anything just shy of What The Heck Day is accompanied with fireworks. The Fourth of July is the mother of all events for the celebration of these sprays of color. You'd swear the day is Fireworks Day, rather than the celebration of the founding of our country.
Topping off the week, my daughter and I will be hitting the road to Gillette Stadium, home of The New England Patriots, to see the greatest rock group in the world, The Rolling Stones. I've seen the old fellas twice before, but this will be the first time with my daughter. One can never see too much of The Stones. Yes, finally, I'll be going to a go-go of my liking, and I will get my ya-yas out!