Tak­ing the time to learn from our elders

South Shore Breaker - - Local - CHAR­LIE LEY MIND, BODY, SE­NIOR charles.ley@gmail.com

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.

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