Sunday, July 19, 2009

Parallel Thinking, Parallel Lives

R.D. has been gone for a couple of days. Sometimes this summertime stuff just gets in the way of serious blogging. At any rate, it's Sunday evening. I'm missing 60 Minutes, not a good thing when trying to maintain one's Old Fart status. Watching 60 Minutes is, after all, required behavior for the serious descent into Old Fartitis. Yesterday the lake was aswarm with sailboats, as the boat parade and Race from Chicago to Mackinac proceeded. Today it has been cool and overcast for most of the day. As a result there are but a few scattered power boats in the Play Pen and fewer still sailboats beyond the concrete breakwater, in the deep. The sunshine has finally returned, however, lighting up my afternoon view from the 14th floor admirably. The water appears placid and a nice shade of summertime blue. It is currently 69 degrees under partly cloudy skies in Streeterville.

Last evening I went to a birthday party in the West Loop. A great deal of the party was spent on a rooftop deck overlooking, for the most part, other decks and other parties, and a great many tall buildings. Nevertheless, it is summer, and it was open to the sky. The party was an interesting mix of old liberals and artsy fartsy sorts and young liberals, and young artsy fartsy sorts.

The circles I travel in tend to be dominated by college-educated, lefty leaning intellectual and artistic sorts. The funny thing is that among the younger attendees at this party, they were dealing with exactly the same issues that we older sorts have been dealing with all our lives. How do you realistically live a life with a reasonable standard of living while still trying to be true to your artistic self? How do you realistically justify your political beliefs and support with your idealistic self that has been with you from an early age? What do you expect to get from life?

Interestingly enough, among the older group at the party, those in their 50's and some who appeared to be in their early 60's, no one in this group talked about their children or grandchildren. I suspect the route that a great many of those people at this particular party have taken a route in life that led to no children, an oddity in the majority of America, but a fairly common occurrence among a particular group of primarily urban, well educated sorts. It is possible, on some occasions to be with a group of people one's own age and not feel like an outsider because you don't have any children.

It was especially interesting to interact with the younger attendees at this party, and to discover that the trajectories of their lives paralleled my own. In point of fact, I was introduced to one young man who appeared to be in his early 30's because I mentioned that I was using the Garage Band program on the MacBook Air to record some songs that I have written. It seems the young man I was introduced to is doing exactly the same thing. He used to play in a band. Now he has a real job. He is putting together a demo with the idea of selling some songs in the country music market. I just want to record a bunch of songs that I have written for god knows what reason. For posterity? To regale friends and family? For my own vanity? Some of the above? Nevertheless, two men separated by a generation, but engaged in precisely the same activity. I even met two young women from the same hometown that I claim. Their paths, and even schools they attended in their escape from that town eerily paralleled my own, just separated by a number of years, and by the fact that they are female and I am male.

I suppose the point of this ramble is that for all the talk of the difference between generations, for all the talk of how youngsters today are different, the truth is that the wheel just keeps on turning. We now have digital media out the wazoo. (Question: Where, on an anatomical chart does one find the wazoo? Bonus points for the answer.) These kids grew up with Clinton and Bushes as Presidents. We grew up with the Vietnam War and protests. These kids grew up in an age of AIDS and designer drugs. We grew up in an age of sexual liberation and LSD. On the surface these are two worlds apart. Upon examination, they are worlds in parallel. The same impulses drive them that drove us, and still drive us. The surprise is that we can see eye to eye, despite generational age differences. We're all fighting for the same things. The world we live in provides us with the same solutions, and parallel lives. Then we bump into one another at a birthday party on a rooftop in the West Loop in Chicago.

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