Journal March 19, 2001.

What is it like for me to be 88ish? [And Why?].

Reviewing the previous entries that I have written, I began thinking again about WHY my BE-ings are what they are. About three years ago I identified some of those WHYs in a journalistic essay; those thoughts and conclusions are repeated below and are worth considering again.


"As I have aged through the Eighth and Ninth decades of my life I have become concerned about my aware-ings of what I am doing; more importantly WHY I am doing it. I have concluded that, increasingly, the "why" seems to be related to, and based on, childhood imprintings by my parents, or teachers, or associates. Many are now sub-conscious; they reflect learned behaviors which were related to being a "good boy". I turn lights off to save electricity; I turn the furnace thermostat down to save gas; I minimize the use of hot water which, in my childhood, was always important to "save" for someone else to use later. I save string. I save scraps of notepaper. Indeed I save all sorts of scraps because they might be useful, in some way--some day.

"I have concluded that the "why" of my behaviors is the best characteristic to most closely explain the "WHO" that I have become. But it is an elusive label to define. Imprinted habits from childhood are not "bad", but they may cause choices which are out-of-sync with current realities and my relationship to the world of today. It is important, it is essential, to be aware of the "why" as well as the "what" I am thinking, perceiving, and doing. If that "why" is irrelevant to current day situations then, aware and alert, I want to consider other more appropriate perceptions and behaviors."


I have been reading a new book, "Corporate Cults" by Dave Arnott. The author discusses the dangers facing employees of a corporation which seeks to operate as "one big happy family", observing that it usually means that the organization is trying to subordinate individual self interest to the interest of the group. In such corporations the "cult" becomes work, family, and community for the employees. It displaces their "value systems". These values, writes Arnott, ae based on an assumption defined as "I am who I am because of where I was when".

Arnott divides the current population into five generations: the Depression Era, born between 1912 and 1921; the World War II group born between 1922 and 1945; the Baby Boomer group born between 1946 and 1964; Generation X born between 1965 and 1981; and Generation Y born after 1981. The value dispersion, the degree to which individuals within a generation adopt differing values, increases steadily with the years.

Born in 1913, I am a member of the Depression Era generation. Arnott defines its defining value as frugality, note-ing that it [I] lived through some of the strongest sociologcal environmental event effects of modern history. Members are frugal because growing up during the Depression made them so. The stockmarket crashed. They did not have credit cards so they had to pay cash. There was little cash so they had to be frugal. Value dispersion was minimal; people had to fit in.

I was interested to see how closely my self-description, summarized above in the essay excerpts, conformed to Arnott's identifying term of frugality.

Arnott observes that for Baby Boomers (my children) the defining value was to seek individuality; to "find themselves". For members of Generation X (my Grandchildren) there has been no defining event. Their values are widely dispersed; they see life's decisions as short term commitments that can be changed abruptly.


Other Useful Entries.

Journal March 11.:
Journal March 26.: