THE YOUTH CULTURE GETS SOME GRAY, BUT STILL WANTS TO DO IT ITS WAY
Ron Roel & Ken Taub
MICK JAGGER JUST TURNED 70. Not too long ago, we would have said, “Mick Jagger just turned 70 years old.” But is Mick Jagger really old? All you have to do is watch him perform… shake your head in disbelief… and then shake your side to side, as in “No.”
Mick Jagger just had a milestone birthday, to be sure. But “old” is not an adjective most adults would use to describe him.
He’s not old. And neither are we (the “we” here referring to us fine folks generally known as the boomers). Most of us do not think ourselves old per se; many of us surely don’t feel old; and a large percentage of us act somewhere between 10 and 25 years younger than our chronological age. Lord knows, we try.
Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of the Yolders – the Young Olders.
The what? Okay, if one coins a term like tween, dinks or yuppies, then one is also obligated to define it. Fair enough. Yol’der (noun): a person generally born after World War II and before the ’67 Summer of Love, who nevertheless behaves in a youthful manner; an energetic, adventurous person who is between the ages of 45 and 68; a person at or rapidly approaching standard retirement age who still likes to play, party, explore, rebel, or otherwise rock on.
That would be us.
Now, where did the word, Yolder, come from? We made it up! Granted, a few others may have used it before (there’s an online video game, Yolder’s Empire, and some people have the family surname, Yolder), but we couldn’t find any usage remotely approaching this demographic description. So right now we’re not only naming it, we’re claiming it. We put together this 6-letter label and we’re sticking a flag in it.
Of course, we’re not going to copyright it, nor argue with anyone who claims they used it first. We want people to feel free to pass it along with its new coinage. It sure beats the heck out of “active seniors,” doesn’t it? And it’s not just an alternate term for baby boomers; the generations after us, Gen X and Gen Y (and so on), will soon be Yolders, too.
While it’s hard to say when, exactly, we began our Yolderhood, this state of mind seems to have been percolating for years. Something apparently happened when we heard Bob Dylan rebel, cryptically, in his proto-rap “Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the mid-1960s, and again when he crooned “May You Stay Forever Young” a decade later. Our insubordinate, self-directed generation transformed a song meant to be a lifelong blessing to his child into a directive to stay shaggy and fleet of foot—Peter Pan in blue jeans.
We listened, remained largely rebellious in ways overt, subtle and technological, and did our best to stay as young as humanly possible for as long as possible. Most of us still have to-do lists, not bucket lists.
So how’s it working out for you, and the whole lot of us? Well, we hope.
But we must ask this: Are we the loud, proud progeny of the first Revolutionary Generation (Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, et. al) or just a group of hazy-headed hedonists?
Is the Me Generation a hip success or a self-centered sinkhole? We’re all of the above, and more. We’re Steve Jobs and Charlie Sheen, Oprah and Madonna.
What’s it like to be turning 60 or 70 in the youth culture we initiated? It’s strange, wonderful and confusing. I mean, can you still be hip when suspenders hold up your pants at the (expanded) waist? Is Yolderhood 1) a naïve aspiration that will weigh heavily on our backs—a baby boomer boulder—or 2) a brave statement of perennial growth and new possibilities?
We’re going to go with whatever’s behind Door Number 2. After all, it’s how we’re wired—for adventure, aspiration, self-discovery and that perennial American trait, reinvention. So, yes, who wouldn’t want, as the song goes, “to move like Jagger” at 70? We see just about everyone raising their hands. But the bigger story is this—lithe or arthritic, gray or Grecian Formula tinted, somewhat slender or 30+ pounds past high school weight—we want to be open to all the possibilities, responsive to the dynamics of change, and alive to Life itself.
It’s who we are—and why we started this online community of ideas in motion, inspiring stories, shared struggles, rich information, and resources.
Ron Roel, the Editor and Publisher of RoelResources.com, is a professional journalist and author. He helped found the weekly Act 2 retirement planning section at Long Island’s daily newspaper, Newsday, and continues to be active in several organizations that promote sharing and mutual support across the generations. Contact: email@example.com
Ken Taub is a New York-based independent advertising and marketing consultant, copywriter and freelance writer, and co-owner of a yoga studio, with a background in philosophy and a degree in Chinese Studies.. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.kentaub.com.
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