Nov 27, 2016

To be a -56 (or being one of the -56s)

There are the very distinct terms. The Baby Boomers. Generation X. The Millennials. Generations having their significant features. Then there is the crowd born in the Fifties. And they are like…nobody. Anonymous. No features at all. I am one of them.

Friday evening I was watching the 60 year anniversary of television in Sweden. We were born the same year, Swedish national television and I, in 1956. It was a great show. Fun. Dramatic history. Warm. Nostalgic of course. It was like watching my own life pass in review. So familiar. Close. Emotional.

There have been more anniversary shows this year. Because although the Fifty-generation generally is perceived as pale, there are exceptions. And in Sweden they happened to be born in 1956.

The -56s. That’s the term they go by. And they were all, except one, athletes. Internationally very successful, still some names might not ring a bell to you unless you had a special interest. To Swedes though, they are icons. So let me just list them. Frank Andersson, wrestler. Linda Haglund, sprinter. Tomas Wassberg cross-country skier. Ingemar Stenmark, downhill skier. Björn Borg, tennis player. And then of course Ted Gärdestad, composer and singer who left a much loved treasure of Swedish pop ballads for us to adore and pass down when he died much to soon.

Well, Björn Borg I know is still an icon to more than Swedes of course. And Seattle, you might remember Ingemar Stenmark as he was competing with the Mare brothers.

So, 2016 I have been watching all these shows of the iconic -56s. And it’s like I am watching myself. Especially Ingemar Stenmark who grew up in the mountains of my region. Who talks with the same dialect and is shy and self cautious as northern Swedes in general are. Who made all of us hit the slopes. But “watching myself” is more about watching my own story. Feeling myself through the familiar footage. Sensing who I were. The people around me. My life. I actually think it is really good therapy at the 60 year turn.

I am also realizing how much I am identifying myself with the -56s. Or, is it even that I am defined by them? In what degree do they have something to do with the fact that I have through my life expected myself to be a success? I can’t specify an area or a topic, but at some point I would be successful and in some way recognized. Is it that if you are born 1956 you would be destined to succeed? Anyone else born this legendary year who can relate to this? Well, it might rather be my mother’s grand plans for me. Or a combination.

Anyway. People born in Sweden during the Fifties don’t have a name or a special characteristics. We are pale, bleak, anonymous and forgotten. Except for six outstanding persons born in 1956, giving us unforgettable memories and experiences and making our lives visible. I happened to come to this world the very same year. I think all of us born that year feel a little bit like one of the -56s. Freeloading in the sun of those iconic legends. And my own success? Well, there is still time…

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