Veterans, Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers–you each may think you are in this ALONE. But, ah, my brothers and, oh, my sisters, you are NOT alone, no more than the stars are alone, though space apparently exists between them.
Consider: humans vigorously divide and categorize; they count beans and then forget to plant them. For most of us, a good category is like a good bag–we put some things in one bag and some in another and consider them separated, no matter how similar they are.
It is much the same here–Veterans, Boomers, Gen Xers and Yers, we are all human, no matter how often well intended analysts draw lines that separate.
Remember, everyone needs to be loved, and this includes analysts, statisticians, and other prognosticators. So when their separation and division leaves your less categorized mind reeling, why not thank them politely (everyone deserves respect) and turn again to what you know of the Medicine Wheel and the power of the four directions. This indeed may be a powerful time–in the work place and out of it–but it is also a time to bring together rather than divide.
We are told that never before have there been four generations in the work place at the same time. We also are told that those four generations do not know how to talk with each other.
Wherever each of us stands on the Medicine Wheel, it is the right place and the only place from which to give the gifts we came to give. It is a place of teaching and learning.
So who stands in the North?
Veterans, of course. Wisdom holders. That last great generation, as some have called them. These men and women have held every position on the Wheel and, because of this, they carry lifetimes of stories. Were they salmon, they would be the muscled survivors who return to us, back from the sea, prepared to lay themselves down as the ground of being upon which the next generations may grow.
But don’t expect them to change. They have worked too hard to create the bodies that contain them, to stand where they stand by their frozen northern lakes. Their ideas are solid because they have earned them through experience, but also they may not wish to acquire more. So ask them for their stories. They need to be asked.
And the Baby Boomers? Children of the Veterans? Old hippies, they are not so different, really, than the scarf wearing hipsters who are the Gen Xers and Yers behind them. The Boomers stand in the West, that uncomfortable place of change where the winds blow hard and the sky is dark. They know transition is coming. They know it will take them even further from the sun…even all the way to the North, the frozen lake, where one day they too will be Veterans.
And if these Boomers also had a salmon face, who would they be?
Ocean travelers, still testing their muscles in the raging seas, still exploring new unchartered waters, but not as flexible as once, their bodies having been shaped and hardened by their struggles. But they are not Veterans yet. They are not on their return trips home.
So compassion, Gen Xers, you in the south, where the breezes are warm and the Grandmothers and Grandfathers, AKA the Veterans, send their smiles and empathy to you, their grandchildren. They send this to you, Grandsons and Granddaughters, because in your young faces they see themselves–their own smart and thrifty selves–in your younger bodies. They recognize also the values that you live by, since they once lived by them too. They know you are filled with summer potential, and that, mostly, the winds of change have not touched your cheeks. So were you a salmon, you lovely ones, you would be the apple green and pink ones, still holding to the stream but nearer the faster currents of life than those others just behind you.
And so, finally, in the East, that place of all beginnings, entry point for the journey, stand the Gen Yers, sometimes called Millennials–inventive new comers, yearners after freedom and self expression, challengers of the status quo, perhaps not as directly as the Baby Boomers, but challengers still, even if through the back door. For them, there are new callings back to the land, new efforts for sustainability. These young ones, like the Boomers in their day, are reshaping the world. Here are the youngest salmon, those settling into calm clear water to allow themselves time to grow. May their growth be for the good of all.
Four generations stand sagely in the four directions, but what is in the center? What is that circle?
A dance ground.
A play ground.
A space with no beginning and no end.
Zero point, a place of neutrality.
A circle of connection, where age has no claim on wisdom and all are relatives contributing to the whole.
Can you hear the music from that circle, Veterans, calling for a new day? And you also, Boomers, weary but still swimming–and mostly not dancing? And you, Gen Xers and Gen Yers, you who now own the dance grounds–who will you allow to dance with you?
For as long as we are here, may we all dance together?
And, if, maybe, maybe, just possibly, this one time, we all answer…
…perhaps, in the distance, for an instant or a lifetime…
…momentarily but long enough…
…we may hear the ancestors singing.