Growing up near the beach, I developed a deep love for the ocean. The ever-changing tides, the smell of the morning salt water and the gentle ebb and flow of the ocean always brought an overwhelming comfort and peace to my soul. If one thing was certain about the ocean, is change.I recall standing on the beach as Hurricane Hugo began to move into the Carolina’s in the early 90’s and watched in amazement at the anger of the waves. They slammed into the shore loudly,eroding and destroying anything in its path. The dark, black sky darkened the waters as a sign of its rage. Other days, standing on the beach, watching the sun blissfully peeking over the rippling, calm waters, the captivating beauty would be overwhelming. Change.
Recently, a teenager asked if she could interview me for her sociology class. The questions were about change, and how my era was different from her’s today. I suddenly old hearing the words, “your era”. Ummm…ERA? Really? I am not an ancient dinosaur!
“What were the biggest challenges when you were growing up? What social issues did you face?What advice would you give teenagers today based on what you experienced?” The questions seemed endless about my experiences in “my era”. I explained to her, that my generation was one of turmoil and change.Racial wars, segregation, Sit ins, flag burnings ,KKK marches, cross burnings and hippies were just the tip of the ice-burg in the 60’s and 70’s. Elvis was on the radio, TV was a new concept, that only the rich or fortunate had. Tye-dye and bell bottoms were in style. As I shared my experiences with her, I thought about the residents at the facility, wondering how they would answer those questions.I imagine their stories would be filled with excitement about Al Capone,the completion of the Empire State Building, the invention of air conditioning, Amelia Earhart’s first solo flight,wild tales of Bonnie and Clyde,the unveiling of th Golden Gate Bridge, the end of prohibition, and the completion of the Hoover Dam. They would also share the challenges of the attempted assassination of FDR, the rise of Hitler in Germany, the beginning of World War 2, the recovery from Black Friday in 1929 and the hard labor they endured to survive.They would describe their simple way of life, focused on God, family and Country. Divorce was unheard of, churches were packed every Sunday, and they believed in hard work. Latest fashion trends did not exist. Keeping up with the Jones was a thing of the future. Overall, life was good because they made it good, taking each challenge as it came, and never backing down because of fear of failure.
I would say that we could learn a lot from this generation. Look at all they endured. Look at the inventions and buildings they designed and created. They were a people of vison.
So to answer the question, “what advice would you give to teenagers today?”
Well, I think we should be like those before us….have a vision, and be fearless and hardworking……and who knows? Maybe you will build the next Golden Gate or the next Empire State Building.
Change. Ebb and Flow. The same raging tide that leaves a path of destruction is a surfers delight…..the same quiet crashing waves that softly ease us into a restful sleep will change in a few hours….as the moon changes it’s position, so will the ocean waves…..such is life….ebb and flow…..ebb and flow.