“I THINK THAT THE TIME when music could change the world is past,” Neil Young announced not too long ago. Four decades after Woodstock, we boomers seem to agree. The only changes we’re responsible for now are distinctly gloomy: More and more of us are poor, homeless, disabled, moving in with our kids or hunting for roommates. We’ve got the nation’s highest suicide rate. We don’t even have good sex anymore (and we invented sex). We’ve got nothing to look forward to but a slow dwindling-down of our abilities and resources, and listening to the generations that come after us bitch about how we ruined it for them.
Guess what, though? (And this is gonna make them crazy.) We don’t regret the way we lived our lives, other than the occasional bad LSD trip. We had our Camelot, our shining moment when peace and love seemed within our grasp, when holding hands and strumming a guitar could topple the mighty and bring the corrupt to their knees. Here, let me stick this daisy in the barrel of your gun.
Ah, but you’ll never get it; you can’t help it; you’ve always been afraid to dream, because what if your dreams don’t come true, the same way ours didn’t? You think the disappointment would crush you, just as you think it should — wish it would — crush us. Too bad. Suicide, if you think about it, is just an acknowledgement that you were better off once upon a time. You don’t even have that. All you have are your diminished expectations, your plodding nihilism, your laser-focus on being locavores, or triathletes, or microbrew mavens, or Gleeks, or Twitterers, or whatever new fad you’ve seized on to try to make you feel your lives are worthwhile and you’re going somewhere. Good luck with that.
A man’s reach should exceed his grasp. A generation’s, too.