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Martha's big adventure -
The optimistic me generation

Sometimes, it appears that the scariest thing human beings can do is to keep on moving forward. This is one of those times.

We're experiencing as a nation an economic jolt that is so large everyone has gotten swept up inside of it. That doesn't actually happen all that often. Even with a recession approximately every eight years since the Great Depression, there have always been sectors who appeared insulated from the whimsies of a free market system.

Magazines and talk shows were full of lists that let us in on where we could live now, or what we could do for a living that would be termed safer. That was code for recession-proof.

That is no longer true. Those lists are gone and have been replaced by tours through foreclosed mansions in different parts of the country that could be had for a song.

In New York City there was even a long profile about a CPA who advertised his resume on a sandwich board that he wore downtown for almost a year until he landed a new job. We admired his moxie where before we might have questioned his need for drama.

It's been a shock to the system to watch so many people with some sizeable cha-ching be reduced to common folk over such a short period of time.

That tends to give some credence to the idea that it's all an illusion anyway. An idea like that will lead some people to give up completely and retreat to their couch, Cheetos firmly in hand. However, that same thought will give some Americans the mental permission they've needed to head out on their own.

Reports about an uptick in new business start-ups in the U.S. are supporting the latter, and in what might be a surprising age group. The baby boomers, who are now over fifty, are leading the pack and have decided once again they can do it themselves. Frankly, that fits the demographic, but it may be surprising to everyone else who thought we might be ready to relax.

A better term for the generation that brought flower power and a run-up on Wall Street, which may sound contradictory at first, would be The Optimistic Me Generation. A new kind of OMG.

There has never before, and maybe never again, been such a large bunch of people who have consistently believed that things could be better and they can help make it that way. Sometimes, it had lead us down a narcissistic path and probably had a lot to do with our love of plastic surgery, but it's also created a generation who give more of their time and money to charities.

Boomers love a challenge and believe in the common good. It's a powerful mix. We are constantly looking for balance, but with the idea that life is supposed to be enjoyed. Hence our foibles, but that also means we eventually figure out when we've gone too far and start looking for the balance again.

The next generations appear to be more pragmatic, including the new president and that's probably a good reaction to what they've witnessed in their parents. They may even be the generation that figures out a careful plan to walk us out of the current economic quagmire and onto a saner monetary platform.

However, for just a while longer it will be the OMG's who amuse, delight and deliver on the idea that life is to be explored to its limits. After all, at some point, everybody has to exit the stage, and it'd be nice to do it with no regrets and a smile. More adventures to follow.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.