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The Suburbanite
  • King's view: Listen to your elders

  • Most of us will make New Year’s resolutions soon, if we haven’t already.

    We’ll focus on the usual – losing weight, getting organized, being more forgiving, kind, patient – you know the list.

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  • Most of us will make New Year’s resolutions soon, if we haven’t already.
    We’ll focus on the usual – losing weight, getting organized, being more forgiving, kind, patient – you know the list.
    These are the same issues we focused on last year, and the year before and the year before.
    While those are noble goals and deserve your best efforts – again –  I’d like to add one more. It is one you’ve likely not thought about, let alone pursued, when it comes to resolutions. It’s one we can all try to accomplish.
    How about pledging to listen more to those who are older? In fact, the older, the better.
    By doing so, we’ll make those folks – a lot of whom might think that life, and everybody in it, has passed them by – feel like they still belong, which they do.
    That would make this a much better place to live.
    But we are the real beneficiaries of this, not the elders.
    The most under-utilized segment of our population is senior citizens. They know much more than we do because they’ve seen much more than we have.
    They’ve experienced, heard, felt and sensed much more than we have.
    They’ve had happiness and sadness, joys and disappointments, highs and lows.
    And yes, they’re wiser and smarter than we are. There’s a difference between the two. Those seniors will explain it to you.
    In fact, many have forgotten much more than we’ll ever know.
    Gray hair isn’t so bad, really. It’s a sign that a person has many more answers than questions, and isn’t that the ratio that we’re all after?
    Yet it is us, because we’re supposed to be “so with it,” and are knee-deep in the here and now, who assume we know everything about everything. What we should all know about that opinion is it’s wrong – so very wrong. Nobody knows everything. We simply haven’t lived long enough to accumulate much knowledge in the overall scheme of things.
    And the gray-haired people? They have. They’ve got it all over us.
    I recently had the occasion to be among many people from The Suburbanite area who spent several hours with a senior citizen. You all know him. You’ve heard of him. But his identity isn’t important here. I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack, but I’m smart enough to know that every time I’m around this guy, I need to pretty much keep my mouth shut other than to occasionally tee him up, so to speak, so he can display his wealth of knowledge for the benefit of everyone in his midst. He knows everything I know. Plus he knows a lot of what I’ll never know.
    Page 2 of 2 -  On this day, he was especially enlightening, informative and entertaining. Whatever the subject – and he bounced around from topic to topic in relative lightning-quick fashion – he regaled everyone. He was like an encyclopedia, or for the younger readers in our audience, Wikipedia.
    Wikipedia is a great place to go for knowledge.
    But it’s even better to be Wikipedia.
    As this older gentleman talked, I was reminded – again – of not how much I know, but rather how much I don’t know. And I think everyone else felt the same way.
    We didn’t admit it to each other. That would have been embarrassing. And we had already been humbled enough – but gladly so, because it was truly fun. I think I can speak for everyone in saying it was one of the best times all of us had had in a while.
    This senior said he has a saying, one he learned a long time ago from his own gray-haired guy, his father. He said he adheres to its wisdom every day.
    “Whenever you have the chance to say nothing, make sure you take full advantage of it,” he said with a laugh and a twinkle in his eye.
    It’s not the easiest thing to understand, but we’re all much better off when we do less talking and more listening.
    So this year, let’s help them – and let them help us – by resolving to listen to those seniors who know more than we do.
    Now about that weight loss, I’m with you on that one, too.