Earlier this morning (or very late last night, depending on how one looks at it), today's xkcd comic hit me right in the gut.
Yes, I know generational memory doesn't quite work this way, but it still served as a marker of the reality of how quickly defining events become just another part of history.
Possibly due to the fact that it was late and I was tired, it shone a light on the weird spot occupied by my generational splinter (27-32-year-olds). We have a lot of "time before X" memories due to the particular spot our lives have happened to occupy.
The internet came of age when we did (in the mid-late '90s). Cellphones went from high-tech to ubiquitous. Columbine and 9/11 happened while we were in high school or early college.
I can still remember a time when the space I'm writing this in was seen as a new fad, subject to constant theories (in print, natch) about what was so special about it and where it could go.
I can remember going right to the gate to see my sister off on a flight, and when the idea of bag searches at the schoolhouse door was alien. Or, worst of all, a time before going off to war became something people my age had done by the hundreds of thousands.
Then everything changed, bit by bit. I started to get an inkling when I dated a girl who was still riding. This year, with helping to train some younger journalists, really brought it home. The eight years separating us meant a whole range of cusps I had passed were just "the way things are" to them. On my end, it feels nigh-on schizophrenic to have so many before/after moments piled in one's past.
I'm sure this is partly just the blindness of having lived through a particular time. Pivotal moments are just the ones where you happen to get shot at, after all. They're doubly important if your friends all come under fire at the same time and get to gripe afterwards.
Time marches on, this is the way of things, this too shall pass. And it does.
It's as simple and devastating as that.