Lee Child, in a recent NYTimes style piece , asserts that “objectively I was one of the luckiest humans ever born.” The prolific best selling author wouldn’t have to convince this debut novelist of that assessment on any grounds other than his writing career. But he actually speaks about a whole generation, growing up in stultifying but stable post WWII England, hemmed in by a status quo that seemed to him to deny the full expression of the opportunities with which he’d been gifted.
Then, according to Child, came the Beatles, who ushered in an era “full of joy and love and energy.” Child hitched his wagon to that star, and bought into the gold standard of becoming “No. 1 in America.” Nearly half a century later, he achieved that goal, calling it “a lovely, gilded, charmed, privileged loop through an exceptionally fortunate micro-age of history during which a kid who’d had safety and unlimited opportunity, could go really far,” meeting other equally accomplished kids along the way.
Child’s description of what it felt like to come of age during that time, is an apt representation of my own experience, (though I missed out on the No. 1 in America part.) Sadly, however, he ends the piece with the declaration that we, who had so much, “blew it.” We failed to live up to the promise of all we were given. Child shrugs his eloquent shoulders, saying that “our history is over….and now it’s someone else’s play.”
Yes, we missed things. Yes, we as a generation have settled for less than we dreamed of in our youth. And certainly, it’s another generation’s turn to make our world better. But Mr. Child, we raised that generation, instilling our ideals and our energy and our love in them. They know all about the Beatles (and have their own musical inspiration.)
Furthermore, everywhere I look, I see members of our generation, having had productive, successful lives, finding new ways to contribute to this world and mentor our next leaders and activists. I, for one, have just begun a writing career.
So perhaps “you’ve written and spoken your lines, for better or worse,” and you’re ready to step back. Cheer up! Many others of our cohort are just now finding new voices. Remember “Blackbird?” All your life… you were only waiting for this moment to arrive.