Since this has been the year of the river, employing that metaphor seems appropriate. Musicians, painters and poets channel the life force of moving water, intoning its virtues and warning of its dangers depending upon their artistic purposes. Dear reader, let’s go for a swim.

Somewhere along Nebraska’s riverbanks, eddies, formed by an industrious beaver or an uprooted tree, offer a gentle pool for reflection. Then, spurred by currents unforeseeable, upstream water demands its time, upending the peace, pushing still waters downstream.

I wasn’t there so I can only imagine my Uncle’s task in convincing my Grandfather to buy a tractor. Horses do not need major repairs if treated well. They start every morning regardless of the outside temperature. With life expectancy approaching twenty years, why dump the horse for a machine which requires fuel and parts, emits stink and noise, and, since you gotta sit on it all day, causes hemorrhoids?

Such it is when generations separate at the eddies and move downstream to follow different currents.

Adjustments. Change. Life flow.

Today we recall Pearl Harbor, a recollection which annually surfaces, if just for a moment. Today the iconic pictures return. Nine-decade old veterans, fewer this year than last, will recall of their memories. The angry smoke will rise from the Arizona. For the shortest of periods, our national eddies will mix. In our collective memory, we will feel the unity of “that America”. Those days, so far removed from our 5:30 pm newscasts, seem to beckon us to fight the current. To move backward. Upstream.

My generation grew out its hair. Wore flag shirts, flared trousers and fringy vests. We told our parents there was a “generation gap” which basically meant we did not share an eddy. Never would. That led to fighting. In streets over civil rights. In jungles over communism. Over dinner in almost every home.

My generation found currents that ran a bit fast. The undertow proved disastrous. We invented drownings by acronyms. HIV. LSD. PTSD. Some inhaled Agent Orange. Our eddies were topped by an oily film. Undrinkable. Useless.

But now it’s my generation that’s being “urged” to move on. “OK Boomer.” Yeah. That applies. The ascending generation of X, Z and Millennials are emerging from the shallow. No longer wading along the shore—and armed with impressive personal technology—these world-savvy adults have had enough of us baby boomers. Our life-wisdom? SPAM. Our inspirational stories, told in repetitive waves? Stuck on a sand bar over there.

To today’s generation, Roe vs. Wade is a history test question; religion a cute, Disney-like creation.

Students in History 101 struggle to relate to 9-11. Not their fault...it was before their time.

I gotta confess...I love all of it. I wish I could stay around another century to see what these generations will achieve. But a river does not flow backward. The current travels one direction. No fair poling upriver. We boomers have had our day. Truth be told, that’s okay.

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Don Cunningham of Fremont is a freelance columnist.


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