By: Dennis Bates
Much has been made of the fact that this is the 40thanniversary of the Woodstock music festival in upstate New York. A movie has come out suggesting the event was the turning point in the generation of the Sixties and maybe it was, but perhaps the aging eyes of the generation and the fading memories have been overly kind. Only time will really tell.
I am one of the Baby Boomers. I remember Woodstock and even saw the documentary made of the actual concert. Woodstock was only one of the events that shaped my generation, and my next novel, which is tentatively entitled “Except for the Eagles,” takes a look at what happened to my generation. Hopefully it will be released this fall.
The following is a small excerpt from that book, which like all my books is copyrighted. I hope it peaks your curiosity. The characters speaking at this point are Jack and Sara, and they are taking one last look at San Francisco before they move back to Iowa where they were born.
“We were the Chosen Generation…the generation of peace and love that was supposed to change the world and make it a better place. What happened to us, Sara? What happened to all of us, not just you and me?”
I put my arms around her waist as she stood silently in front of me, and I waited for her response. For a moment there was none, but I knew there would be, so I tightened my embrace and waited for it. Finally, with a deep sigh, Sara turned slightly and looked at me.
“Maybe we quit believing that there was a God, who was in control; maybe we just didn’t listen to Him and did our own thing. Maybe we just heard the things we wanted to hear and ignored the rest, or maybe we just failed, even though we tried. On the other hand, maybe we were just full of crap from the very beginning.”
Sara’s always had a way of mixing the sacred and the profane like that so that each part worked with the other bringing an interesting balance. Baby Boomers all did that at first, but somewhere we lost it…all of it…the balance, the unique attitude that made it all work, and finally the will to care if we ever found it again. And several other generations caught up with us and dubbed themselves as the Chosen Generations.
“So where does that leave us?” I asked.
“I think a better question at this point is where does it take us?” Sara responded. “If we stay where we are, we might as well be dead. Sooner or later some politically correct person with a smiley face will fill us full of medication, restrain us in a chair at a facility that smells like old people who need to have their diapers changed, and whisper sweetly into our ear that they are only doing that for our own good…oh, by the way, would you sign these papers giving everything you have left to us? Thank you very much.
“It’s more than a little bit ironic that the generation that advocated recreational drug use now has to worry about getting too many pills from too many people for too many reasons, most of which are fabricated illnesses made up by the drug companies so they can make bigger profits.
“Somehow, I don’t think Timothy Leary had that in mind when he proposed that we ‘tune in, turn on and drop out,’ and that’s one reason I can’t stay here anymore. It’s never been what I had in mind either. I have too much life left in me.”
“That’s a little cynical, don’t you think, Sara?”
“Maybe,” Sara said shrugging, “but cynicism is one of the few things our generation has left that it can count on. If things turn out better than we expected, we can say we’re glad that they weren’t as bad as they could have been. On the other hand, if they turn out worse, we can say, ‘see, I told you so.’ We can’t lose with cynicism.”
“We can’t win either,” I said.
“Perhaps we were never supposed to win,” Sara said. “Maybe that the was the biggest illusion of them all…that we could make a difference and win on our own…definitely that was a total lie.”