Not Quite Letting Go | Opinion

Photo via Pixabay.

Lily Tomlin’s 6-year-old Edith Ann character said, “I’ve been told that I’m bossy.”

“I’m not bossy. My ideas are just better.”

One of the possible gifts of aging is letting go. Things that once had great importance no longer do. 

One of the possible challenges of aging is letting go. Things we’ve cherished, like our opinions, aren’t released easily.

The torch has been passed, but we’re still holding on.

One reason some of us have difficulty letting go of the torch is our fear of loosing our identity. “If I let go completely, who am I?” Some of us have difficulty letting go because we don’t trust the work will be done well. “They’re going to screw it up.”

This conundrum has been present since the beginning of human gatherings. Century after century the same things happen. Some older people are freed by letting go of the reins, and others struggle to keep a tight grip.

“The cemetery is filled with people who thought the world couldn’t survive without them,” said my friend George.

I am one who is both happy to let go but holds on to the belief, “My ideas are just better.” This is true only with my areas of expertise, such as the best way to make allies out of straight cisgender people. What makes it easier to let go is seeing and trusting the hands that want to take over.

Many older gay men say, “The young gay guys have no idea what we did to make their lives easier for them. They have no idea what we went through. Plus, they don’t care.” So, sometimes the torch is passed with resentment of being unappreciated.

Alan, the middle-aged gay man who cuts my hair, gives me up-to-date reports on the salacious activity of young gay guys on PrEP. “All they think about is getting laid.”

Such news makes it difficult to trust that there are gay men and lesbians out there who can be trusted with the mantle of LGBTQ Liberation. But I’ve met some, and not just from Generation Z, but from the Millennials, many of whom are more than ready to take over. In fact, some of them wish we Boomers would just get out of the way. 

The Tao Te Ching asks us, “What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man but a good man’s job?” I wrote today to a Millennial gay man who I thanked for being my teacher. He’s heading up a conference about which I’m very excited, but he doesn’t like any of my ideas. I’m not used to that happening. I’m not bossy, my ideas are just better. But not for everyone anymore.

Why thank this man who has taken the torch? Because he challenges me to let go graciously and gratefully. He unconsciously reminds me that the world can get along without me and will.


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