I wonder how many younger people we older ones associate with on even an occasional basis. I’m not talking about the young lady taking my order from behind the Subway counter, or the two high schoolers we complain about talking too loudly at the next table over from us. I know for me, regularly, that’s about it. Maybe it’s because we believe they will think we are not cool enough for them. Does anyone under sixty use the word cool like that anymore? That’s part of the problem. We think we are smarter because we are old, and they think we are (fill in the blank) because they are young. We may both be wrong.
My granddaughter is sixteen, far smarter on her worst day than I have ever been on my best day. Last year, she and I got into a discussion about the merits or relevance today of the book To Kill a Mockingbird. We each had something of a different point of view about Harper Lee’s book. To put it in the vernacular of my age group, she cleaned my clock. I claim some disadvantage because of her being one of the best high school debaters in the state of Idaho. The truth is, she’s just a lot brighter than me.
This past week, three of my friends and I met with a young lady to discuss some issues of using social media. That subject, at least for me, felt like Einstein attempting to teach Alfred E. Neuman the Theory of Relativity. Despite that, I learned some of the technical aspects she was talking about, but more so, I had a great time doing it. She is smart as a whip, (ok, I couldn’t resist) articulate, charming, and willing to share her knowledge and talents with others. The two hours spent with her went by far faster than I wanted.
That same evening, another wonderful event happened. Suzanne and I, along with my friend Brad, went to a poetry reading in downtown Tucson. This was my second time at this event, and I was eager to see if the second meeting would be as good as the first. The gathering is small, maybe twenty people at most, and except for myself and my two companions, all other attendees had a median age of about twenty-five or less. The talent, bravery and poetry writing skills of those attendees were amazing. They are poets in every sense of the word. Their powerful, honest, in-your-face, and poetic words left me slack jawed. The cool thing was they listened to my words, Brad’s words, and from the clapping, finger snapping, and cheering seemed to appreciate what we said. When we left, I didn’t feel younger, but I felt optimistic. As we baby boomers bow out of this existence, I feel a glimmer of hope that the young of this country, like my granddaughter, the young social media expert, and those ‘youngsters,’ I heard reading poetry, just may do a better job of running this world than we have.
I’m going to take advantage of what the younger generations offer. There is plenty I need to learn, and they just maybe who I need to teach me.
Go well, David
“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.” Victor Hugo
“The arrogance of age must submit to be taught by youth.” Edmund Burke
Poetry reading in Tucson.
2 thoughts on “Learning From the Young”
Well said and written my friend. I was snapping my fingers to your words throughout the essay.
Nicely stated David. There are many young folks who are looking deeply at our world and are willing to share their hearts with us through their writing. It is inspirational to witness. I’m happy you and your friend, Brad, joined in rather than observe on the sidelines. We all have to be brave to share ourselves to find peace and connection.