Born Before Apollo

I surf the wave of time with a group of Gen X people born before Apollo landed on the moon. That might make me old, or still young, depending on the reader. But age labels are nothing but stories people tell themselves. In my mind I’m still a kid in pajamas and no helmet on, riding my bike barefoot as fast as possible down the steepest hills available to me. I celebrate the recklessness of my youth and smile at the scars as they remind me of the highlights. Another tetanus booster shot? No problem.

The Beatles and The Rolling Stones might have been Baby Boomers, but we had a steady diet of each, swept into the diverse wave of music that crashed over us from birth until college. Rock to singer-songwriter to disco to reggae to punk. We swam in it all. No, they weren’t our generation, but they were our soundtrack and we made them our own. Until Nirvana and Pearl Jam kicked them aside and declared that it was our time to break through.

Consumerism, good god the consumerism! Plastic and white bread and designed obsolescence, all positioned to feed the worst junk to the masses in a recurring revenue scheme to keep the shareholders happy. All this junk loaded onto shelves at Kmart and Toys R Us and a hundred other stores that lived and died with their consumers. And who pays for it but the environment and our bodies? The C-suite that grew ultra-rich in this trickle down economics scam will casually gesture to the crew to move their yachts to a better view.

We saw, and we still see, that it’s all bullshit. All the positioning and titles and tail wagging the dog political maneuvering? BS. It’s all stories and power-brokering and wealth accumulation, and you either play their game or you move aside on their climb to the gates of hell. Hell must be somewhere at the top because that’s where some of the worst in humanity are ascending to. And boy do they spoil the view.

Apollo was the space mission that fueled our dreams. To launch into space and land humans on the moon! It seemed anything was possible, and that we’d all be space rangers. And then Atari and Star Wars came out, grabbed all that pent-up space fascination and channeled it towards fantasy. Bigger movies, more immersive video games, faster and stronger computers. Yeah, more consumerism. See what they did there?

The thing is, I’m not jaded, none of us born in Gen X can be. We’ve seen all the stories and positioning all our lives. We were born skeptical of the generations around us. And why wouldn’t we be? Collectively we’re all messing things up, aren’t we? And we all see it, even if some choose to immerse themselves in the distraction of Squid Game or the latest superhero franchise movie. Fantasy soothes the sharpest doubts and fears.

Of course, we already knew that. Cue Captain Kirk for a real space flight, brought to you by a billionaire working to hold your attention from the toxic workplace accusations his employees are screaming about. Yeah, that’ll hold their attention for a few minutes. But doesn’t it feel like we’ve seen this one before?

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