We sat across from each other at dinner,
a worn fern bar table and four decades separating us.
She, the Millennial, full of youth, beauty, and promise.
Me, the Boomer, bone tired and beaten down,
neither attractive nor promising. Old certainly.
We spoke of many things, conversation flowing effortlessly, honestly.
She crackles with energy that, harnessed, could power
the mid-Atlantic states.
I absorb it, refreshed to be in such a presence.
She converses in Millennial speech with words like
“sustaining”, “color blind”, “fairness”, and “community”.
I nod knowingly, but feel the weight of my generation’s sins
of omission and commission.
The Millennial does not condemn, for she is far too busy
planning great things to assess blame.
I am thankful for that.
We did our best. We had no more of a guidebook
than she will have.
I am fascinated as she texts friends while talking life strategy
and answers straight-up questions
with “yes” or “no”, never saying “absolutely”.
She speaks of concepts beyond her years.
She seems an old soul in a nymph’s body,
not yet scarred, bent, and made resentful.
I want so much to say, “here is the way; follow this plan
and learn from my pain. Stay this course
and avoid the traps that will make you regret in the night.”
But even as I wish for her a path straight and simple,
pain free and full of safe goodness,
I would no more impose on her that free pass than I would send her
purposely down a dark road.
No, my best for her is to give counsel if asked
and let her chart her own way to self-actualization.
She must face life in full force to be tested and tempered
and earn tensile strength of mind and spirit.
Better to compete in the arena on her own than take
shelter from broken sages, wise though they may be.
To my delight, she does ask counsel.
She shares ideas, and she asks that I give in equal measure.
Rather, she expects it.
I look with great affection at this strange and wonderful creature who is
without guile or meanness, who is at once naive and worldly-wise
and seeks to fight the good fight for the planet’s ecosystem
and the advancement of community.
She seeks nothing less than true equality, peace, justice, and
a light human footstep on Planet Earth.
I yield to her radiant spirit.
Trapped in my generation’s DNA, I embrace the changing of the guard,
knowing that on her watch, wrongs will be righted.
She will peel away the injustice and inequity
that clogs the arteries of previous generations.
She will, as Faulkner said, not merely endure, but prevail.