How terrifying is it that in a year or so I qualify for the Heritage Plan? Or at least according to my television and one funerary insurance company I will. That, within a year or so, at least a portion of GenXers will qualify for funeral benefits along with those born after 1920. Yes, that’s 1920 through the mid to late ’60s.
Understand, I have no plans on dying early, though I suppose it is possible, but still…could it be that those of us who grew up or were listening to The Fall and Echo and the Bunnymen and The Replacements and more, The Jam and other such groups are reaching or have reached middle each? Hell, even Nirvana for god’s would now be taking Centrum Silver and perhaps Mr. Cobain too would qualify for the plan.
Not that I have any fear of growing old, mind you; I mean, I tell myself lt’s just a “state of mind” – something that only those old enough to care would say. Twenty year olds don’t go around saying “old is a state of mind” because they are too young to care and too busy going to hip joints like that hole in the wall Wally’s where I too used to go back before it was hip and I used to listen to all the great jazz players, long before the place become overrun with jock college students who turned the place into trend-la and not any place you’d want to be anymore unless you’re a sorority sister on a date.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with being a jock (in some ways, I too was a kind of jock – my own eager athleticism with tennis and badminton and running and top of my team at that, though it’s hard to believe now.) And as for sororities, I can only say that many tried to recruit me before I turned my dirty blonde long hair into a dyed blue-black bob and pierced my nose with a small diamond (tasteful, I assure you and rare for the time, because then, nobody was piercing their nose or their tongues and this was discreet and quite lovely, though I lost it one day down the sink trap while washing my face – try explaing that to Buildings and Grounds personnel. I appeared to be perfect Tri Delt material until I morphed into Vespa It Girl, but hey, that was my path and that’s it. I was never goth and lord knows I’ve grown up now (no nose ring, no blue black hair… in every way, you’d never guess my checkered past). We all grow up. To see me now is to see someone completely different from the girl I was then. The core may be the same, but the exterior has changed in ways both good and bad. Or simply, just changed.
I suppose the point is, I never though I would ever find myself anywhere near middle age, and although as we develop as a society that age increases to a higher and higher age (medical technology and so on), it still disturbs me to think that perhaps I could die as young as sixty (why not, so many others die even younger. Think, Linda McCartney for now, John Lennon and others and though their life ended tragically, the point is, lives do end tragically every day – disease, accident, rare forms of childhood cancer and more (just watch the news or what of those who don’t even make the news, and who are long forgotten) – and you need not be famous for this to happen and more, being famous won’t save you either. We all die. It’s that simple.
But let’s assume that nothing tragic happens – that I don’t die in some awful terrorist Metro attack or some nasty bout of status epilepticus as I sit around waiting for the seizure that kills me and so on. Let’s assume I die a nice and peaceful death with no more cancer (been there, done what,) which blows, I can tell you (try to avoid this at all costs if at all possible). Eats and drink lots of green tea and beta carotene and salmon and salmon oil tablets and cruciferous vegetables and fruit and all those things your mother told you were good for you (she was right) and if none of that works, blame it all on genetics and you have a right to be pissed. Hell, you have a right to be pissed regardless. Nobody deserves this, you think. Nobody.
Shit, I did everything right and still got cancer. Avoided the sun, wore sunscreen when at the beach and so on and I still got malignant melanoma that could easily and nearly did take my life and I was only in thirty or so at the time. How fair is that?
Not. Not fair… So the point kids is that life just ain’t fair, something you think you know in your twenties, but are really just rebelling against everything that you don’t yet know because rebellion is all you sort of know so you take to socialism and join the Young Socialist Alliance (as I did, and no, I’m not ashamed to say so) and you hand out copies of The Daily Worker because you can afford to be this liberal at this age and that’s a good thing. As the French say, If you aren’t a liberal when you are young, you don’t have a heart and if you aren’t a conservative when you are older, you have no brain.” (that may not be completely accurate, but it is along those lines, so not verbatim but the point holds).
Now, that may or may not be true and I may or may not agree (I’ll never tell) but to some extent I have to say, I’ve been there. I’ve done all of those young liberal things. I was never a young Republican, alas, much to the chagrin of fellow workers, surely (sorry all if you reading this) On the redeeming side, I can assure you I was and remain a devout Episcopalian and even a member of the Episcopal Women’s Guild and a Lay Minister at the church and attended with a fierce passion that I can only say must surely relate back to my epilepsy because I enjoyed the confession and the ceremony far too much that even my priest, who upon seeing my put on my cassock and cincture before Evening Vespers (which was my job to run as the Officiant) said to me, and rightly, “You just like the clothes…”
He had my number alright.
Since those days, I wonder what has changed. I’m still a sort of socialist, though I’m not entirely clear even on what I mean by that other than I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative and generally like people like John McCain a great deal and that I believe in doing what is right for people, which I suppose varies depending on who you are and your point of view. So, by this I mean, my own vision of what is right for society, which is to essentially let people make their own choices (except when it comes to murder, rape and crime in general in which case, obviously no, these people cannot make their own choices and frankly, in my view they suck for making this choice in the first place and no, I don’t believe in second chances for things like this. It’s been proven too many times that certain types of criminals cannot be rehabilitated and will commit the same crime upon release within a few months. That is a fact.)
It’s a hands-off government policty and saves us a great deal of money. I don’t believe the government should be out there supporting social programs that have been proven to not work. I’ve tried to work through the government’s epilepsy disability line and it got me nowhere and I was transferred at least 7 times and even then, nothing. What a waste of salaries and tax payer dollars
Sure, write about the exceptions if you want, but don’t’ tell me how totally wrong I am when the stats bear it out about criminals (as noted above). Watch the news. Watch CNN, just pay attention and you’ll see. On the upside, maybe most of these criminals are also eligible for The Heritage Plan and were born between 1920 and the mid sixties and so qualify for death benefits and therefore are assumed to be a risk group that requires those essential funeral costs covered.
Is this a comfort? Is it a comfort to know that when I die, should I die young, that there are certain criminal elements that will die with me. The criminals of my own generation – fellow GenX criminals (what a concept: I thought we were all just too apathetic and disillusioned to get off the couch to even commit crimes. The disaffected etc etc. I mean, where do these people find the energy?
Surely it is fueled by something deeper – drugs, abuse, who knows…abuse, though, does not always or even often lead to being a criminal upon maturity. An abused child will not always or even most of the time grow up to be a child rapist, as is often assumed by those on the outside who assume a child who was the victim of incest will grow up to do the same. Not true … not in all cases. And more, there are those who have had a perfectly normal background and grow up to be child rapists regardless. Wasn’t that psycho (now dead) Dahmer from a “normal” background supposedly? Maybe that’s not true but I remember reading that he had a perfectly normal, even nice childhood. Let’s face it; some people have these idyllic, pastoral childhoods and grow-up to be nuts anyway.
As usual, I digress and move into tangents. The point, (she ways with a big waaah like an infant screaming no no no, screaming and kicking).
I don’t want to get old and yet there is nothing I can do to stop it. I have even tried reading The Dalai Llama to reassure myself that it’s not big deal, he who takes almost everything with a grain of salt and who says through his books that we are like the ocean; that we may be choppy on the surface, like the ocean, but that beneath we are an ocean of calm. That we have an inner serenity.
I read the Dalai Llama, of ascetic hermits who life for years of their life in isolation in the Chung Nan mountain of China or the “top of the world” in Tibet. They fly prayer flags and chant and are older than I am – a concept that I still have trouble grasping that these days, most of the actresses I see and the people I see on television are younger than I am, which is just freaky – have you reached that point yet? I remember a time when people on television where older than I was and they seemed almost aged and so grown up.
These days, commercials are using our music to appeal to us with their product advertising. Hell, even Led Zeppelin has been used to promote Cadillac, Sting for Jaguar (who could forget his casual signing of “Desert Rose” as he chanted nonchalantly in the back of a speeding Jag down the autobahn or wherever. And Target and the Gap – perhaps the worst or best offenders of all, depending on your point of view. It’s either really smart advertising or really sickening to see our own songs used to promote consumerism.
And what about Bob Dylan and the now-infamous Victoria’s Secret advertisement?
Look, I have no problem with Bob doing what he can to make a buck. Only we held him to some higher, poetic standard. He never really placed himself there, so it seems unfair (to me anyway) to be so suddenly disappointing to find out that after all, he is just like the rest of us, trying to make his way through the world and still the same guy who sold his early songs to groups like Peter, Paul and Mary who sang the first popular version of “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
So then, why the shock? Why the need to hold Bob to the standard that he never set? If anyone is to blame here, it is us, and only us. Or maybe Albert Grossman but certainly not Bob – not in my view.
So, we watch him age as well and maybe all those drugs have had a little more of an effect than even he would have liked because hell, he doesn’t look t all like the fresh-faced faking Oakie that he so wanted to be. The future Woody Guthrie he figured he’d be and in so many ways, did pull off. But even our Bob is not happy about aging or seems not to be in certain songs, (I’ve noted before, “It’s Not Dark Yet.” and so on.). I admit, it’s difficult for me to see Dylan as any other way than he was in the mid-sixties, as if he froze like that.
All of this reminds me of a clip I saw the other night on a DVD of The Dick Cavett show with George Harrison who was being interviewed and who sang and who during the interview was asked if he could imagine Paul McCartney or The Stones or Lennon performing after age sixty. Harrison did a quick impersonation of what in his mind a sixty year old walked like and would carry him/herself and it was a lugging walk like some kind of primate – this is what he viewed “old” as. Yet here we are, with the Stones still selling out shows and McCartney cutting his own wide swath through the wood. Certainly they qualify for the Heritage Plan. Perhaps if I live long enough, I’ll have the same Start Me Up attitude as Mick Jagger and nothing will stand in my way.
I pray it so.