In the fight against systemic racial injustices, thousands of people both black and white have spilled onto the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. People across the globe have stood and demonstrated in solidarity.
The demonstrators’ call for change is a fight whose force and scope has not been seen in years.
Baby Boomers are no strangers to demonstration. In the ’60s and ’70s, we came of age against a backdrop of civil unrest and disobedience – becoming ourselves a revolutionary force for change.
All of these protest got me thinking about change. I found myself still asking the age-old existentialist question: What do I want to do with my life?
It was a question I thought I would have answered long ago, but my search for meaning and a greater sense of purpose had not panned out the way I thought it would have. At almost 65, shouldn’t I have had it all figured out?
It was a bit unnerving. But the base of my question is my desire, like the demonstrators, to make my life matter.
‘Change only comes when we really want it’
Something I do know is that change only comes when we really want it. Otherwise the obstacles may overwhelm us and make us want to quit.
While my obstacles are minute compared to what those in the Black Live Matter movement face, the demonstrators are willing to stand fearlessly against tear gas and police batons in search of change. They have not given up or walked away.
There is, of course, a little voice in the back of my head that begs the question: At my age, can I really change?
It may be my own ageism that is fueling my doubt and reservations. Margaret Kuhn, the founder of the 1960s radical group called the Gray Panthers (a name chosen in deference to the Black Panthers), thought we as seniors can still change and thrive. She maintained that old age is not a disease but is a strength and triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses.
So I’m using the F word – focus. I’m taking it one step at a time, one moment at a time to achieve the things I wish to create.
I may surprise myself with each step that I take to affect my version of change. Like with the brave Black Lives Matter movement, I might become the change I want to see.
Maggie Lennon is a writer and photographer who writes about navigating the aging process. Check out her blog, “The Sensational Sixties. An everywoman’s guide to getting older.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.