Young people discover the world on a daily basis. I see this with my own children and I try to help them and it is fun for me. I am their dad and for me my role is clear.
When one gets old, I am 50 years old now, and some would say hey Al don't sell your self short, you've got many good years left, it starts to become apparent that the world no longer belongs to me and folks of the same age, the way I thought it did when I was young. The thrill of discovery and glee of the charging out into the unknown is not as strong and one could wonder; "where do I fit in now?". Who gets to decide where I fit in, is it the young people or the older folks. Do I still retain the power of individual choice to determine what stamp I leave upon the world, did I ever really have it? Will structures in society force conditions on me in a new way I have not prepared for?
If the old folks tell the young ones "ok you are in charge now, our time is past" do they respond; "well thanks, more responsibility, that's all I needed, thanks for being there", or "yea, tell me something I don't know ya ole fart, yawl screwed things up enough" or hopefully, "hey not so fast, I still need someone to fall back on from time to time, keep in touch". What is obvious is I must start to investigate new ways of interacting with the younger crowd. They do not see me as one of them any more. If I am to overcome this disconnection and find a transcended path for connection with them that now run the world I must find it and offer it. I think that path is this, you must allow them to be in charge of their own discovery process, they are grown up now, you must take responsibility to present them with proper challenges suitable to help them find out what it took you God knows how many years to find out. What do you get out of it, is it worth the effort? There are a lot of good answers to the question. But let's just say this, will you be happy on the sidelines from now on? Were you ever not on the sidelines, is being curled up in a shell where you want to stay or end up? Are you eager to go quiet into that goodnight? I'll give one good reason, even if it is a little self-centered; some of their enthusiasm and fluidness of mind will rub off on you.
As you have now probably guessed, my little article here is not aimed at a young audience. Many people my age have not prepared themselves to be able to engage younger people in the way I am suggesting and probably never will. Some could be ready to start preparing and maybe a few are looking to step on this path right now, and for sure there must be those that are way ahead of me on this and are already charting the course. I have met a few and would like to meet more. My Grandfather Hector, who I loved and admired very much, lived a fascinating life, I know from stories he often told me. He saw a world go from horse and buggy to model T's and then Packards and DeSotos and then Ford Mustangs. He saw a world go from icebox to milk trucks and factories and middle class and LANDING ON THE MOON. The defeat of measles and polio, this man lived this and he was capable of telling it. Two World Wars, telegraph to telephone and then television, and advent of electricity in the home and all that came from that, he was joyous in having witnessed and participated in this. He had personal pride in all that had been accomplished, setbacks included. As far as he was concerned it BELONGED to him. He OWNED it, and nobody could convince him otherwise, nobody could take it away. He was so proud of this county. He was born in Quebec. He took his citizenship very seriously, air raids could not stop this man from voting. He always knew who and what he was voting for and why.
Can you be that little boy or girl sitting on your Grandpa's or Grandma's knee again. Can you remember how it felt. I am sure most of you can relate similar stories. Can you be the one that makes the gift this time. The high school kids, the ones getting out of college, they do not have much in front of them. I think they need us now more than ever.
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