What I fear about aging is becoming conspicuously and stereotypically old. I’m not talking about the natural physical and mental changes that accompany aging. What I fear is the calcification of my attitude and outlook on life. I want to avoid falling into the trap of thinking according to a generational divide and believing that I must stay on my side of the generation gap.
Each generation has its place in the continuum of time, and unfortunately there are negative comparisons coming from both directions. Past generations create myths that support their belief that they were stronger, smarter, bolder, cooler, braver than succeeding generations.
The younger generations, because they are more technologically advanced than previous generations, see a mirage that indicates to them that they are more savvy and capable than the generations that came before them.
I want to know what I need to do to continue to be relevant and engaged in the continuation of human prosperity for all generations. I want to take a walk in the athletic shoes of younger generations to try to feel what it must be like to be facing an uncertain economic and social future in today’s world. I want to meet younger generations where they are in their interests.
I feel extremely lucky when I have the privilege to have conversations with the newer generations. I’m eager to understand their views on representation and culture; family and values; work and play; politics and human interactions. If they want to hear my perspective, I’m happy to share. However, I do not believe that because I’ve lived longer and have more experience in some things that I, and others like me in older generations, have the insights and knowledge to change the trajectory of the future. As in all things, I believe that shared knowledge among diverse groups is essential for optimal outcomes.
I do now believe–and always have–that our upcoming generations are our hope for the future. My hope for myself is that I can be a help and not a hindrance to the work that they must do. One way that I plan to avoid being conspicuously and stereotypically old is to be transgenerational. I want to cross the generational divide by accommodating to the new order of things. I want to lessen the distance of the generational gap by being in the moment with what’s happening now.
As my British friends would say, this post is spot on. Should be required reading for every generation, since listening and learning are necessary survival skills for anyone fortunate enough to live in a democracy.