To Solo You Need Wings

Lately the experts are sounding downright counter-intuitive. Not that these empiricists believe very much in intuition, but look they’re making my barber mad. Because Ron is a 68-year-old traditionalist and proud of it.

You see, the experts are telling him today’s anti-big government sentiment runs against other institutions as well. Marriage-and-children is no longer a given. Neither is religion, as more people prefer to call themselves “unaffiliated.” Nor political parties, as more people prefer to consider themselves “independents.” Even the ancient tribal custom of dating has given way to “hooking up.”

Attend any church or visit any senior home and you’ll hear angry echoes of my barber: “We’re tearing up our roots!” And they’d have a good argument. Because ever since the first wandering hunters grouped themselves into families and clans and tribes, humanity has been a groupy thing. Attached to its institutional roots with a passion that amounts to a faith.

Grouping, however, is changing into soloing, as Eric Klinenberg details in his “Going Solo.” For verification, travel the popular enclaves of any big city [Wrigleyville in Chicago, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, East Village in New York] and behold entire populations of young, unattached vagabonds doing their thing, then going home to their trendy one-person households.

Hard to say if either the experts or Ron are more correct. After all, snapshots of a culture are just that, snapshots. And yet there’s even another counter-intuitive phenomenon at work lately.

Recently the young have discovered a whole new regard for the old! You know, that graying generation in your family who you hug at holidays then put aside the rest of the year. It’s never been that way in older societies say like China, India, Africa and the Mediterranean. There elders command respect just by being, well, elders. But lately the kids — even the experts — give standing ovations to elders like Tony Bennett, Betty White, John Glenn, the Dali Lama, Kirk Douglas. Could this be the start of something?

At my age, I certainly hope so……

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  • For the Dalai Lama, it's the sound of one hand clapping.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Yes, we need two to make noise. We are still a "groupy" creature by nature. Soloing is a new frontier

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