We are a generation of lost children.
We were given a world that we distrust. We were given a world that we do not like. We have not been given the tools for reconstruction.
We knew the families on TV better than we knew our own. Our models for healthy relationships came from Aaron Spelling’s office. Our own parents did little to dispel the myths the media wanted us to buy. They entered into loveless marriages, seeking out financial security over emotional stability. They conceived children they didn’t want to raise. The television became our babysitter. We wore keys around our necks because no one was home to let us in. Cereal in the morning because we could make it ourselves, peanut butter and jelly at night. Toys bought to keep us quiet (toys that didn’t make noise), puppies and younger siblings in order to fight off the isolation.
We were abandoned by those who loved us. Perhaps not intentionally, but still abandoned. We realized that our parents did not have all the answers we sought, even if though they liked us to believe that they did. They did not know any better than we did, they only had more experience in screwing up. They failed to understand that we were not the opportunity for them to correct their mistakes. We were not a second chance at their own lives, and because of this we were resented.
We were forced into contracting out our time for money because our education has come at a price. We lost our freedom the day we started kindergarten (yes, it started then) and each passing year a little more chipped off. By the time we got to our twenties, we had accepted the fact that we would spend the rest of our lives working. We were left with no other choice. Even if we turn our back on the middle-class dreams of increasing our social standing (dreams we never really wanted in the first place), survival without income does not seem possible.
We recognized that there was little practical room in this world for the creative. Writers, artists, musicians- these are not acceptable trades unless they are a source of income. And gone are the days of patrons. We were left to fend for ourselves. We sacrificed our passions for necessity and logic. There was too much time needed for work, and too little time left to play.
We accepted positions for what they could get us, not because of what we could do. We started out down career paths, fully aware of the fact that the average amount of time people spend at one job continues to decline. We figured out how to maximize our 401k. We looked for health benefits. We looked for dental benefits. We looked for a larger cubicle. We accepted the fact that windows were not always an option. We longed for a shorter commute. We zoned out in rush hour traffic and hoped for the best.
We realized that we could not go on this way, but we did. We rejected the notion of vacation being limited to two weeks per year and only with prior approval, yet we never took what should have been rightfully ours. We rejected the notion that each hour of our day has a price tag, but continued to search for a higher wage. We rejected the notion that this is all life had to offer, but had nothing to replace it with.
We watched our heroes (if you can call them that?) die not because they fought in some great war, but because they could not win the war against themselves. We dressed in black and flannel and watched The Breakfast Club and Dead Poets Society until we had them memorized word for word. We smelled like teen spirit. We have done drugs, drank in excess, and had sex even though we knew it might kill us. We didn’t question being raised in a culture where touch was wrapped up in a layer of latex- we accepted it because we had no other choice. We had no great cause to fight for, no catalyst to rally around. We only picked up picket signs when the local cable company threatened to take away MTV.
We were a marketing tool and a demographic. We are valued for our disposable income. We were valued for the image we could provide. We were hip. We were with it. We were quickly undermined by those younger than us. They were more hip. They were more with it. They had more disposable income. We were screwed.
We wanted more out of our relationships. We wanted something real. We searched in vain to find our dare to be great situation and came up with nothing.
Without the proper tools, we have been struggling to come up with our own paradigm. We wonder how it will work out for us in the end- rejecting everything for a fresh start. We are the gardeners of the dead, trying to grow something that holds beauty and meaning. We are trying our best.