What is the existential threat you are most concerned about? We are all deathly afraid of something. That fear either sits in the background as a silent tormentor or looms largely on the horizon directly over the path. Knowing what it is and facing it head on is one way to take away its awesome power and take greater command over the creative process.
There is an uneasy, inobvious and perhaps unsettling connection between Elton John and Greta Thunberg. The teenager is out in the world testifying passionately about climate change, she is pissed and she is gaining ground. She along with many of the genzie cohort are entitled to their emotions. Elton John is on the opposite side of the Grand Canyon of this demographic divide, a leading-edge boomer, facing down his own demise and a poster child for the generation that created the problem she is deathly afraid of.
(Greta stares down the Donald)
My brother and I, on the trailing edge of this suspect generation, were in his audience in Vancouver, enjoying our final opportunity to see him live. He waddled out on stage, looking like he might keel over from a heart attack and then proceeded to deliver a bone-chilling, soul-freeing three-hour show with only two short costume changes for breaks: Electric music, solid walls of sound. I left with renewed commitment to spend the rest of my days creating and contributing things that might one day make a sliver of the impact this senior citizen has made. The $400M he's raised later in his life for those suffering with AIDS has to stand on equal ground with the cultural influence he had earlier. He matters to many. So does she.
I don't want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of a growing community of people looking for quality of life solutions for a world in flux. I once asked Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the first impact venture Patagonia, what he thought the four horsemen of the new apocalypse were. He put "over population" out front as the alpha of the herd. This is why climate change, among a number of other existential anxieties related to population, is not just a political divide. It' a generational one.
There is a long-standing association between youth and creativity, that like a house that needs to be bulldozed rather than renovated, disruption is a young person's game. Indeed, as Albert-Lászlo Barabási confirmed in his assessment of age and success, it seems to hold. But the data tells a different, counter-intuitive story, now in plain site. Younger people create a greater number of impacts, it's true, but older people have a greater probability of succeeding. They just stop trying at some point and so there are fewer of them.
Regardless of whether you like, respect or agree with Greta or Elton, they are two people at the ends of a spectrum trying to make a difference in their own way. Youthful and feminine. Wise and masculine. And I'm not describing the age and gender of her and him. I am proposing a spectrum of attitudes accessible by everyone regardless of age and gender. The battle lines have long been drawn across these dimensions and the two sides have much to learn from each other.