Walking “toward the Cliff” Boomers

Baby Boomers are aging.  This large generation, born to the Greatest or the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X, are defined as those born between 1946 to 1964.  We came of age during the Vietnam War and the era of Civil Rights in the United States.  We remember JFK Assassination and President Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal. We are aging and we are not going quietly. 

I can only speak for myself, but I am not prepared to age well.  We are still productive and have responsibility for our aging parents, our Gen X kids and sometimes our grandchildren.  And we have endured recessions, assassinations, impeachments, 9/11 attack, moon landings, the Internet, smart phones, computers, and Covid.  We are not afraid, but we are resisting being sidelined. 

What national memories do you have of your life?  How would you describe each decade you have survived? What do you regret? What are you most proud of surviving? 

Walking through Fox Run Regional Park in a cool summer morning outside of Colorado Springs, I was struck with fear.  For the first time in my life, I could not do it.  I could not climb that hill.  I was struck with the fear of death or becoming incapacitated.  I have endured much illness and devastating events in my life, but I am resilient and not normally afraid. 

“Jesus quoting from Isaiah, “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.And his name will be the hope of all the world.” Matthew 12:20-21 New Living Translation

Doing whatever I want, even riskier adventures, may become a hardship to my family. Yes, I would gladly die doing what I loved – hiking.  I also might live and create a difficult situation for these generations who depend on me.  The fear of being ‘cared for’ and not being the ‘caregiver’ made me stop and say no.  I turned around.  I was weak.  I faltered. 

How do I process this profound experience? Do I try again?  How do I conquer the fear of death or disability? When did we start talking so much about our aches and pains of our body to our friends and family?  

In the Michael Easter book, “The Comfort Crisis”, he confronts the comfortable life we have achieved in America and visits Bhutan.  Bhutan is rated by many as “the happiest country on earth”.  He visited Khenpo Phuntsho Tashi who wrote the book “The Fine Art of Living and Manifesting a Peaceful Death”.

The Khenpo told Michael a hiking story. 
“Pretend you are walking along a trail, he explained, and there is a cliff in 500 yards.  The catch – the cliff is death, we will all walk off it, and we are, in fact, walking toward it this very moment. … Don’t you want to know there is a cliff?  Only then can we change our course. We could take a more scenic route, notice the beauty of the trail before it ends, say the things we try want to say to the people we are walking it with. … When you start to understand that death is coming, that the cliff is coming, you see things differently.” 

Face the fear.  Climb the hill.  Death is coming.  Our life, decisions and relationship’s impact is all that will remain.  Look at the cliff. I will not be ‘crushed as a weak reed or be a flickering candle.’  
Not yet. Not yet. 


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