Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Talking to Each Other

Isn’t this just the best picture? I gotta get me one of those shirts! Sometimes we make the simplest things difficult – like building up the mystique of another age group until we find it impossible to interact with them.

I’m off to visit my daughter next month for 8 days for Christmas. Every time I visit her I insist that we listen to what she’s listening to on the radio. Why? Well, for one, it helps me keep current on what’s going on culturally for her generation.  But probably more importantly, it gives us a conversation to have. 

I think many older people are actually intimidated by the young, afraid of being viewed as a dinosaur and so we fulfill our own prophecy. After all, if we’re not actively “being” in their world – which runs parallel to our own – we do become archaic. 

It’s been my experience that most of the young will cut you a break, especially if they sense that you are sincerely interested in what they think and what they’re doing, AND if they feel comfortable that you are not going to make judgments or try to tell them what to do. 

Next time you have an opportunity to start up a conversation with someone significantly younger than you, try listening.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Don’t be a Know-It-All

Probably the best thing you can do for yourself as a “person of age” is to embrace the idea that you don’t know everything.  What’s the point of life if there’s nothing new to learn?

I had an experience today that shocked me into realizing I hadn’t written for this blog in far too long a time. I was at a wonderful local library, where they provide little enclosed booths to work in. Each is equipped with a bank of electrical outlets so you can bring multiple devices and work there for hours if you like. I packed two drinks, some food and my laptop for the duration. I had arranged my purse on the workspace too so that I could take a picture of all my trappings for posterity. After all, it was an important day. I was starting my first ever attempt at the National Novel Writing Month – an annually organized group of thousands of people attempting to get 50,000 words of a novel written in the 30 days of November. This was a big deal for me.

I got set up and took out my camera, snapping a shot of the workspace then turned around to find someone to take a picture of me hard at work at my station. I approached the closest woman and asked if she’d mind taking a picture of me.

“I can’t hear you!” she said, loudly. That probably should have been my first clue, but I trudged on and repeated myself. She looked at me askance but dragged herself out of her chair. I showed her that she simply needed to push the button on top of the camera and sat down.

She peered at the screen on the back of the camera. “Do you want that purse up there?”

“Yes, I’m trying to show all the stuff I brought to the library.”

Then she literally scowled at me and removed the purse, putting it on the floor.  “How about that Coke bottle? Why don’t we put it over here (where it won’t show) and the bottle of water over there. That’s much healthier and you won’t be advertising for free.” She proceeded to arrange everything the way she thought it should be. I had given up any attachment to the outcome of the picture when she picked up the Coke bottle. Please, Universe, just let it be over.

She snapped the tidy, now useless picture and happily handed the camera back to me. She leaned into me and said, “I may not know much about photography, but I know clutter in a picture doesn’t look good.” She toddled off to her workstation, happy that she had completed her task and completely unaware that she had been an ass.

Now, I admit, it was unlikely that her age was the entire problem. She had probably been a know-it-all her whole life, and that condition was simply exacerbated by the years she’d lived. What really frightened me, though, was that I doubt she was more than ten years my senior. Really? Please tell me I will not turn into that in ten years’ time.

This is the condition I have pointed out to my children as the one which should trigger them into taking me out! That’s right, I’ve made them swear to end my time on Earth should I ever become a cranky old know-it-all!

Since I put that contract out on myself, I refrain from taking over every situation and telling everyone what I think relentlessly. I actually never did that anyway. Just to be sure, I also repeat one of my sisters' mantra - "It doesn't always have to be my way."

Well...it doesn't. It really doesn't.