Taking the time to learn from our elders
How often do you find yourself totally engrossed in conversation with someone experienced in a skill or craft, gleaming every tidbit of information on the topic?
Tips, tricks, hacks, all those things that you may or may not eventually learn on your own, but in this conversation, you’re hearing it from someone who has done it, lived it and can share the outcomes.
Personally, I seek out every opportunity to learn from those who share my love for a particular activity, or has experience in the task at hand and can lend me some sage advice on how to get it done.
A cherished memory of my grandfather is when I found him in the study with a small wooden rocket ship in his hand, systematically and fluidly weaving it in and out of a string net. I was mesmerized by the movement and more so by how his hands seem to have a mind of their own as they continued their dance while he turned his attention to me as he explained what he was doing.
“I’m making a fish net. This isn’t a rocket, it’s a netting needle and it makes this task a lot easier.”
It was small, thin and had string wrapped around it.
“Where do you get a netting needle?” I asked.
His answer was, “I don’t buy these, I make them.”
This is but one of many things my grandfather taught me, some of which I may never have been exposed to otherwise.
It didn’t stop at my grandfather. My grandmother, uncle and my dad all shared their collective experiences and expertise with me. I learned so much from my time hanging out with them.
Even better was when their friends joined the conversation, hearing different perspectives, ideas and sometimes even the occasional disagreement were all valuable in their own way.
This trip down memory lane was brought about as a result of a recent meeting I attended to discuss a possible location for a seniors drop-in centre on the South Shore.
We were meeting with a local community art collective to discuss co-location. While there, I was struck by the variety of arts and crafts on display and my thoughts immediately went to thinking about how cool it would be if, while hanging out in a drop-in centre, our senior adults could share their art and skill with others.
How often do those opportunities come around? How often does a lifetime of experience sit untapped, languishing in the solitude of their own company?
A major contributor to positive aging is to stay engaged, feel valued and respected. There are some activities taking place today, but in my opinion, there can never be too many. We need to find more opportunities for introducing people who have skills to those who want to learn.
It doesn’t have to be a formal affair. It can just as easily happen on an individual basis. A friend shared how her girls regularly visit a seniors home just to be with the residents.
They just talk, do crafts, puzzles and learn about life from those who have lived it much longer than many of us. These young ladies will grow up with knowledge that many of their peers may never acquire, with insights on how to overcome obstacles using information and stories shared with them simply due to the fact they took the time to be present and giving of their time.
I think the takeaway from this is that we need to elevate the idea of including our senior adults into our daily activities. Take a moment to consider if your plans could easily expand to include another, and when they do, find a way to make that happen.
For sure it is a win-win situation.
Taking the time to learn from each other and each other’s skills may be beneifical to our everyday lives.