How to Torture a Boomer

Why won't mainstream culture leave us alone and just let us grow old in peace?

One would think that at least for those privileged few Boomers who have basic economic needs handled and are enjoying reasonably good health, one would finally be in a position to fully relish the present moment. But all it takes is one issue to ruin a perfectly good day.

As someone who leads retreats on the subject of spirituality and aging, I've heard them all. While some of our concerns are legitimate, even heroic, others are the end-product of new and better ways for media, generational thought leaders and marketers to torture us.

Here's the latest way to torture a Boomer currently making the rounds. I call it: Legacy Dysfunction (LD) Here's LD in a nutshell. Article after article purporting to help aging Boomers find meaning actually end up with us questioning the value of our lives.

According to LD, it isn't enough that you got educated, raised a family, figured out a way to make a living and tried to live a good enough life, past and present. Now, at the very moment your midlife concerns start dulling down to a quiet roar, you are faced with an inventory of questions destined to kick you right back into the competitive, fear-driven place you are finally just growing out of.

It is LD that asks: What will your legacy be? Is there a university building, an endowment or a stadium somewhere with your name on it? If not, have you at least done something significant -- memorable -- to ensure world peace, cure a disease or discover a new source of energy? How will you be remembered? Is this world a better place because you were here? Don't worry, the articles advise, even if you haven't accomplished something on a global scale, you can at least write a letter to your adult children and grandchildren that will transform their lives by the very dint of your profound wisdom. Time to get cracking!

Oh yes, and there's more. God forbid that you should take whatever spare time you can muster to do something nurturing for yourself, enjoy the present moment or do something just for fun. You could just be taking the grandkids to the zoo rather than straining to put profound words to paper. But LD instead drives us to keep searching for meaningful ways to make sure we will be remembered, pretending that it's altruism that's driving us -- not ego.

I'm not saying that If you have reparations to make to others, the world -- and you have legitimate remorse or guilt -- it is high time to make amends. And if this is the case, it doesn't even matter whether you're coming from the right or wrong place about doing what you can to make things right. Just do what you can.

But otherwise, how about letting the good things you have done, do and will do be an organic overflow from your ordinary self? If nothing else, hope to be remembered for being the one Boomer who has come to realize that your life, just as you live it, is not only a blessing, but enough.