Friday, August 17, 2012

What's Next?

There's a joke that shows up occasionally on Facebook in which a self-important college freshman accosts a senior citizen, saying that it's impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.   

"You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one!" he shouts.  "My generation grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon.  We have nuclear energy, ships and cell phones, computers with light speed -- and so much more..."

To which the senior citizen replies:  "You're right son.  We didn't have those things when we were young...."   and the joke goes on from there, but I'll add my own two cents first.

-------   1951   --------

ME (all of 5 years old):  "Dad?  What are they going to invent when I grow up that we can't imagine now?"

DAD (all of 40 -- and quite surprised):  "Ha!  That's an amazing question for you to ask me.  Usually, kids your age expect the world to always stay the same.  Why... what...  why are you asking?"

ME (with a shrug):  Well....  they said (referring to a commentator on TV) that when you were a kid, you never imagined TV and now we have one, so I wanna know what will be when I grow up that I can't imagine now..."

DAD (pensively, and after a pause):  Voluntary poverty.  (NOTE:  if he explained that, I do not recall, but those two words stuck fast in my memory......)

-------   1971   -------- 
ME (all of 24, and very much a back-to-the-land communal hippie at Wheeler's Ranch in Sonoma County, California -- dad had come out there to visit me):  Hey dad -- do you remember when I asked what they'd invent when I grew up, that we couldn't imagine then....and you predicted "voluntary poverty."  Well!  Here I am!  Do you remember?

DAD (all of 60, laughing warmly):  Yes, but I didn't mean YOU!!

He stayed for several days, wandering The Land with me, meeting my friends, and their funky homes.   When he left, he hugged me warmly, and gave his approval...  commenting that we were living in a good way, peaceful, and healthy.  He actually added that it reminded him of his early childhood -- and reminded me to be careful of my long skirt around the wood cookstove -- the same lesson his sisters had to learn, he added.

------ Back to that joke -----

After a brief silence, the senior citizen responded as follows:

"You're right, son.  We didn't have those things when we were young, so we invented them.  Now, you arrogant little ****, what are you doing for the next generation?"