The Purposeful Anhedonia of 90’s Nostalgia
Only now do I realize the year 2000 wasn’t the actual end of the second millennium or even the possible end of the world, it was the end of the 90’s and that seems much more tragic. In retrospect, only the 1990’s could have ended in such a blustery, cataclysmic, and disruptive way.
I will say this, it’s a bit of a wander being a 45-year-old social scientist and psychotherapist with impeccable generation x credentials. In many ways I feel as lost and disaffected as I did in 1995. Only then I was blissfully unaware and indestructible compared to the acute awareness and shambles I suffer from now. I’m not complaining though. I’m not rambling either. I could be struggling. I could be processing. Most likely I’m just trying to avoid irrelevance.
Two decades have passed since the 90’s ended. The 2000’s and the 2010’s. Right? It feels like a struggle to name them. My generation was not around any generation that had ever passed through a millennium. That’s why we seem to understand the 20’s through the 90’s but nothing after. The “19” was simply unnecessary. Still is. Most people my age began having children in the year 2000 and parenting became our singular connection to culture and society. Our children became the lenses through which we saw the world for what it was, dangerous, unforgiving, and harsh as hell. We rallied though. After all, we were the first kids to get keys to the house because our parents were never home and we were the first kids to get our pictures on milk cartons because as kids in the 80’s we were either lost or never found.
I guess we’ve made it. Here we are in some fashion. We are now as old or older than our parents were when we were teenagers. I have so much respect for anybody my age who has made it this far. I have since learned that wrinkles are simply the scars of life and no one gets out alive.
So what’s the point?
In true “gen x” fashion, I began writing without a singular direction but thanks to Peter Gabriel I have now found my way. I’ve been listening to a Peter Gabriel mix and “Solsbury Hill” came on.
“Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me
Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant”
In a way, this is a small essay on mid-life, which can feel rudderless and without wind at times. Just where is this connective tissue I once had?
I have been involved in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Scouting leadership for many years. I was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout as a child. Scouts BSA has 7 ranks, Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle. Robert Baden-Powell, born in 1857 and the founder of the Boy Scouts wanted a First Class Scout to be the complete outdoorsman. Originally, First Class Scout was the final and highest rank in Scouting. Later ranks were originally a recognition of earning merit badges beyond First Class, and were not earned ranks. Baden-Powell suggested that once a scout earns the rank of First Class, that scout has learned everything they need to know to be fully competent in society and the outdoors and their subsequent time achieving rank is more about giving back, leadership, mentorship, and maturation. The older sees the younger as an opportunity and not a peer. The older sees the elder class as peers to be mindful of. In many ways the rank of First Class is similar to the rank of Mid-Life.
My recent revelation has provided me with some much needed insight. This current stage of mid-life feels very much like my coming of age. That happens to feel hopeful and convenient and gives some much needed value to both my coming of age and mid-life. My time in the early to mid 90’s has prepared me for this very moment. I don’t understand the current world around me. The supposed adults in charge are all yelling and screaming and are engaged in the most blatant and criminally unaware hypocrisy the world has ever seen. The political climate is a shameful display of petulant reductionism with the generations above and below mine completely unable to relate to any thought process that doesn’t mimic their own. Trump is disgusting and those who are anti-Trump are disgusting. They’re like the worst married couple you know and the rest of us are the kids in the middle running the household while nursing our wounds. Thankfully we’re built for it.
“Games Without Frontiers” just played in rotation on my killer Peter Gabriel Mix.
“Andre has a red flag, Chiang Ching’s is blue
They all have hills to fly them on except for Lin Tai Yu
Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in treetops, shouting out rude names
If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears”
“But this was what happened when you didn’t want to visit and confront the past: the past starts visiting and confronting you.”
“Our lives are not all interconnected. That theory is a crock. Some people truly do not need to be here.” – Brett Easton Ellis