Veruca Salt sang that line right before she plummeted down the “bad egg” chute in the movie, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” As I reflect on our current situation, I realize that the coronavirus crisis that surrounds us now is also a great opportunity to slow down our pace and realize just how much we’ve had in common with that bratty young girl.
I’m a proud part of Generation X, a seemingly forgotten wedge between Boomers and Millennials. Prior to us all is the Greatest Generation, termed as such because of all that group experienced from the Great Depression to World War 2. Despite the fact that Xer’s grew up with the threat of a Russian nuclear attack, faced AIDS as we were first exploring our sexuality, experienced 9/11 while getting a foothold into our careers, and now a pandemic as we settle into our middle years, the lessons from previous struggles haven’t quite tattooed themselves fully onto our decisions.
For instance, my parents were part of that great generation and never fell victim to credit card debt or living outside of their means. That’s because they experienced rationing things for half their lives, and kept the habit of sacrificing just enough to keep them clothed and fed for the rest of their lives. My mother, Millie Pete, is almost 91-years-old and still financially takes care of herself without any help from her children. I know that has everything to do with those lean times.
My generation has had the privilege of technology, a technology with an ever-growing sophistication that comes at lightning speed. We have the comforts our parents and grandparents could only dream of, but for us the result is greed. Despite all we are able to achieve we want things even faster, and if we don’t get them at that pace our patience is so razor thin we lose our tempers.
You can’t grow stronger without struggle, something to resist you as you attempt to move forward. We understand that concept at the gym but not with our habits. I see people complain about social distancing and our isolation, yet all we have been asked to do is stay home. With our TV’s, dishwasher, laundry, toilets, showers, pets, and family. I use Instacart to have my groceries delivered, so I am not without food. What in the hell are you complaining about?
This is an opportunity to remind ourselves of patience, that we must do our part for the greater good – whatever that pace needs to be. Turn off the news that makes you panic, appreciate the extra time you get to have with loved ones, and find joy in the fact you don’t have to worry about comfort. If our small but mighty generation is to be considered great, it’s in what we do with the lessons we learn from this. Yes, we will get beyond the virus and it is my hope that we’ll be a better people for it. If not, then much like Miss Salt we’ll slip back onto a downward cycle that will only lead to the garbage bin.