A glimpse of generations past. (Photo by Pexels and Leslie Fireman)
A glimpse of generations past.

Photo by Pexels and Leslie Fireman

Time has a wonderful way of highlighting what matters

May 14, 2022

As I look back at my academic career, I finally realized the scarcest resource, for everyone, is Time. All choices are based off the economic decision theory known as “opportunity cost”; in other words, what someone gives up in doing a certain action. In decision-making, time is always sacrificed, no matter what scenario is ultimately chosen.

John Jackson, also known as rapper Fabolous, once stated, “‘Cause the money, come to the money go / But the time, you never get it back…. / So cherish the time you were given.”

The importance of time is sometimes not emphasized among teenagers because we think that it is unlimited, but in many instances, it is not. As high schoolers, we understand that success and happiness vary greatly depending on the age of the individual.

And so, I have chosen to interview people in different stages of maturity to gain further perspectives on the importance of time, happiness, and life. In all but one of my interviews, which were conducted with individuals from the Silent Generation to Generation Z over a 2-week period, I asked the same 7 questions:

  1. If you had any advice to give the youth what would it be?
  2. What’s the most important lesson you learned?
  3. What influenced you to bring joy to others around you?
  4. What do you believe is the most important age?
  5. What made you happy when you were younger, compared to now?
  6. What are you proud of? 
  7. How do you want to be remembered?

Silent Generation (1928-1945)

This generation is defined as the “Silent Generation” perhaps due to the fact many individuals were too young to fight in World War II, or perhaps because they refused to speak out during the McCarthy era – experts are perplexed as to the title as well. I interviewed an individual who was born in that time period by the name of Clarence Walker Sr. is a local 1955 high school basketball champion for St. Malachy. Walker raised 9 kids with his lovely late wife, Shirley; they were married for 60 years. Walker worked for the Chicago Public School District for 40 years, and now resides on the West Side of Chicago. He still maintains a strong love for the game of basketball. According to Walker:

  1. Focus. Don’t over-talk yourself. Listen and you will learn more.

    Walker holding the championship trophy for the 1955 high school basketball championship the St. Malachy team on the near west side in Chicago won. (Source unknown)
  2. Shut up and you’ll be surprised how much you will learn. Two things that you will learn are: when there is something that you see happening is bad, you will tell yourself that I’m not going to do that. I’ve used that mindset my whole life, even when I was a kid, to learn from mistakes. Even on the basketball floor, or in any sport, you learn not to repeat your faults and focus on the future of getting [it] right. And it will benefit you in the long run, because you will learn a lot and you will learn the right way, not the wrong way. 
  3. Trusting the Lord and bringing positive joy to others. I’ve been doing it all my life.
  4. I was the baby of my family and wasn’t close to siblings, so I was pretty independent growing up. Transitioning from high school is a big step because there are many possibilities, such as entering the full-time workforce, pursuing higher education, or starting a family.
  5. I found a lot of happiness in sports, especially basketball. I always wanted to do the right thing and never wanted to be self-centered. If you have talent, it will come out. I even had the referees talking to me about playing basketball in college on scholarship, but I was too short: 5”6 is too short, only one guy was able to do it and it was Bob Cousy, but he had a center and all those guys. When you play a game, you focus on what’s going on and do your job. When you go and play around with them, being self-centered, [it] causes the game to be played poorly.
  6. Being a father for 8 kids who grew up well.
  7. It’s not that I don’t want you to remember me, the only thing that I would specify, if you want to learn and grow as an individual, don’t over-talk yourself, you learn things by listening to other people. So, you can realize when close to you are going down the wrong track and you get more educated that way to follow in their footsteps. Stop trying to show off; showing off is not where it’s at, have a sense of humility.

Baby Boomer (1946-1954)

Kathy Beringer (left) with Kelly Marie (right) in Arizona in 2018. (Photo by Kathy Beringer)

The generation of people born after the second World War are known as the Baby Boomers. These individuals have experienced many important events in their lifetime, including the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Kennedy Assassinations, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Apollo 11 moon landing. In seeking the perspective of a Baby Boomer, I had the opportunity to speak with former marketer and elementary education teacher Kathy Beringer, who grew up in Chicago, and now currently resides in Glendale, Arizona. 

  1. Follow your dreams, listen to your heart, use your knowledge and intuition as a guide, be kind to others and yourself and treat people the way you would like to be treated.
  2. I think every lesson learned – either through failure or triumph – has been an important one. I also think learning from the lesson and putting it to good use is just as important.
  3. The pleasure and joy you create within yourself by bringing joy to others.
  4. I feel every age is important. The early developing years to the wonderful Golden Years all create steppingstones for us to advance through life to make ourselves into the best human we can possibly be, and continue to contribute to society in every way we possibly can.
  5. My siblings and family. My siblings are still a very important part of my life, even at my current age. I feel the difference in the society structure and educational system of yesterday made life easier to understand and less complicated.
  6. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my life and how I lived my life.
  7. I want to be remembered as a good generous person that people were proud to know.

Gen X (1965-1980)

Laura Scott holding a crab while on a trip in Alaska in 2015. (Photo by Laura Scott)

As the first generation to grow up with technology at their hands, Gen Xers are known for being resourceful and independent. They strive for a balance between work and their personal lives. To represent that generation, I chose Laura Scott, an English teacher at Wheaton North High School (and my aunt), the ideal source for someone from Generation X. Scott previously taught English at Franklin Middle School and currently resides in Wheaton with her husband, 2 sons, and her dog, Todd. Scott responded with the following:

  1. Advice – Don’t measure your worth by what others think of you.
  2. Lesson – Hard work and determination will serve you better than anything you have learned in school.
  3. Influence – There were a couple women that volunteered or gave me joy as a kid through their altruistic ways and taking the time to teach me skills like crocheting or drawing. My grandma was ALWAYS doing for others and never asked for anything in return.
  4. Age – Hmm, every age has its perks. I loved 18 because my future was wide open and it was up to me how that played out. I did not have to rely on teachers, coaches, or family, even though they were there if I needed them.
  5. Happy – Younger self was happy being out in large groups and living on little sleep. Old me likes quiet nights and early bedtimes.
  6. Proud – I am proud of my family. It has been a treat to watch my sisters grow up and become great moms to great kids, and, of course, to see my own children become adults.
  7. Remembered – A kindhearted person who cared about those she crossed paths with over the years.

Millennial (1981-1996)

Bryan Hill posing with the boxing team he takes part in and also coaches. (Photo by Phoenix Sports Empire)

{Due to a change in the structure of the article, this interview will appear different.}

Millennials are known as the first age to become mostly digital and to have knowledge on how to use the new technology.

In a brief interview with a millennial/boxing coach for Phoenix Sports Empire, Bryan Hill, Hill played varsity basketball at Lane Tech High School for 2 years and then continued his education graduating with honors at Northern Illinois University 

He had a fascinating approach to living to the fullest. Hill said, “I love life, good, bad indifferent, I appreciate that we are alive right now to experience it all. We all have lost someone, so my main interest is to remain playful and at ease with life and do my best to create more joyful faces around me everywhere I go.”

Today, Hill’s goal in life is “to soak up as much as possible, be well rounded and embrace what comes to be the best version that I can be.” He enjoys “the creative control and being able to show love and give back to people, because we all have needed or needed help at some point.”

Hill summed up his approach in one succinct statement: “Consistency is key in life.”

Gen Z (1997-2012)

For the last generational interview, I spoke to junior Mickey Cooper, who was born in Ethiopia and moved to the United States at a young age. He transferred to WEGO last year after attending Wheaton North for his freshman year.

Junior Micky Cooper showing off his humor in the image with a shirt. (Photo by Chuck Baumgartner)
  1. No one really cares what you do unless it becomes a problem for them, so don’t be worried about that stuff. ‘Cause it doesn’t matter what others think, and you gotta do what you gotta do as long as it makes you happy don’t care what others think.
  2. No matter how hard you cheat, you will still never win.
  3. I want to bring joy to everyone because everyone in life is going through something, you never know if people are having problems outside of school and you cannot ever tell what exactly the situation is unless they tell you straight up, I like to make jokes because I want other people to be happy. I’ve faced adversity and if I can help others out, then that’s what I will do.
  4. Sixth grade. Reason why I say that, you’re not just with one teacher the whole time anymore, and you know everything that is going on, and that’s when it gets real. Then you realize that when you get older, you need to mature and grow. And then high school comes, so you have to get prepared. People believe that middle school doesn’t matter, but in truth, it does in ways of maturity, and to be successful in high school. After middle school, you can be a whole different person.
  5. Not knowing how bad the world truly is. I had no anxiety, no responsibility. I could do anything I wanted, and it was a fun time.
  6. I asked a girl to Homecoming and wrote a smooth poster and brought flowers, favorite candy… I saw her smile in a way I never had before. I was like damn it, I did it. It was amazing, and the best feeling I had.
  7. I want to be remembered as the one dude that everyone knew that made everyone laugh.

As people age, looking back is a lot easier than looking ahead, and so it becomes innate to share what has worked successfully for them. After viewing this article, I hope readers take away advice they apply to their own lives to bring happiness and success to others.

Every minute, hour, day, and year is a gift. Let’s appreciate every second someone spends helping us or bringing joy, and never take time for granted. And have a little fun along the way – life passes by quickly.

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