Oh, millennials, how you see things for what they appear to be…to you! The exact exchange went something like this.
Millennial: “Aren’t you too old to wear a Fireball Whiskey T-shirt? As they say, If you’re old enough to buy Fireball, you’re too old to drink Fireball.”
Good point though in some respects. That cinnamon-laced antifreeze is probably not a good nutritional choice at any age. What struck me as funny was that until that moment ageism had gone missing in my world. I, no longer being concerned with “fitting in” in the same way that most of us were so obsessed with in high school, didn’t register the ‘age issue’ as it related to “the shirt.” Whatever…really, again with the “whatever?” Joking aside, the reality of the conversation ran deeper than cotton. People divide the value of another individual’s input into categories. If you’re too old, or too young, too Red or too Blue, to this ethnic background or too that, male or female, you may not be able to connect with an alternate demographic. To that, I say…maybe.
Seems to me that we as humans have the option to transcend all manner of barriers; be they related to race, socio-economic status, age, gender, etc. The question is, will we? If we are willing to open our minds to the circumstances of others can we not then remain pertinent and more importantly in ‘learning mode’ until the day we clock out? Even if those with whom we attempt to connect are as yet unable to open their minds to our way of thinking? I’d like to think so.
Pre-industrial revolution cultures valued the accumulation of wisdom. Hence the term “wise men…and women.” That wisdom was acquired most commonly by those who had lived long enough, and processed enough life experience to know more than the average sixteen-year-old. Nowadays said sixteen-year-old can web surf their way to information over the course of a summer that would have formerly taken a lifetime to gather. Knowledge is power…but is it wisdom?
Back to the ‘Fireball Whiskey T-shirt.” Yes, I get that the shirt is a marketing tool used by the creators of said elixir, but I really liked the art on the “T” so I bought it. A fire-breathing lion-ish creature in a majestic, upright pose appealed to me at the moment. Art, be it’s simple, or rich in complexity is just that…art. All art is timeless if we, the viewers allow ourselves to join in the concept of timelessness. We don’t have to love it. We can even hate it. Either way, we can choose to allow it. We can choose to coexist with it without feeling threatened.
I started going grey around the time of my fortieth birthday. As a lifetime wannabe rock star that did not sit well. Enter my hair salon phase. As a fortieth birthday self-gifting experiment I saloned up and had my hair dyed. I liked it! So much so that I continued the practice for over a decade. I didn’t want to be judged by my age; not by peers, not by clients, not by me. Of course, I realize that my reaction is unique and that everyone else wants to become and, more importantly, look older…ha! Age is wisdom after all so who doesn’t want to look wise right?
Nowadays I have let nature take its course with my physical being. Long silver hair spills over my shoulders and as a result, I garner an equal dose of both disapproving looks, and comments along the lines of “I love your hair, do you hear that a lot?” I do. But I’ve also heard from colleagues, “Hey, have you ever thought about cutting your hair man” and/or aren’t you too old to be wearing that shirt?” Whatever, part three!
With any luck, you find being yourself fun. I know I do. With the end game in mind, I no longer concern myself with being accessed from afar. I know that within a few minutes of conversation, value can be transmitted, established, and solidified. It’s conversation, honest interaction, that allows a person’s value to be understood. It is connection, human, face to face, that creates the opportunity for transcendence. It’s the combined powers of wisdom and patience that allow any ‘shirt’ to bear no weight in the outcome of one’s ability to bring gifts to the world. Going softly into that dark night… in my opinion is a “no.” “Roar till the end like the lion guy on my T-shirt,” say I.
So I’ll wear that dumb shirt, not cut the hair, give at every opportunity and smile on my way out! Oh millennials, how our conversations will be different a decade or two from now; when life has had it’s way with you. And so, with a grin, I raise a shot of fireball to you all while wishing you the absolute best of times!