Gaps in Understanding

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The other day during my weekly coffee meeting with a friend, he mentioned that I must be looking forward to having both sets of grandparents in the same town as I. My father’s parents - moving here from Illinois - will soon be set-up in their new home this week. We (my parents, aunt, and mother’s parents) are all assisting to move them in and get settled. My response, which may sound callous to some, was that it was neither here nor there, as I am not at all close with either set of grandparents; we barely know each other (a result of being a military-brat). But what I failed to ask him - my septuagenarian friend - was, “How often did you spend time with your grandparents?”

My mind jumped to this past Saturday and the few hours I spent in our Children’s Department, slightly overwhelmed at the chaos and shifting of plans that occurs during a larger-scale - well, any scale – children’s program. I was speaking with one of our younger staff members, who dropped the word ‘cis-‘ into conversation. I am aware of the meaning of the prefix, but in my head, I thought, “Oh, so this is a mainstream thing now.” The evolution of language struck me and made me think about how disconnected I am from the generation below mine, as I am not in the habit of conversing with teenagers nor do I have children who would help to make me more aware of the shifting of generational views and experience.

This generation who is supposed to take care of me when I get old. This generation who should be taking over society to keep it flowing with the river of time. How am I to lay my trust in them if I do not make it a point to converse and learn from them?

It took me back to my contemplation of time. You are probably thinking, “There she goes! Harping on about time again! Is she not reading another book??” (Yes, I am, one which happens to take place in the medieval ages, so – once again – we are talking about time.) In the book I previously read, the author speaks with an individual of an Indigenous tribe which refers to its great-grandparents as nieces and nephews as the roles are reversed through age: the elder become a child again and the second generation become the parent. This make a lot of sense to me; especially given the experience I am currently going through observing the goings-on between my parents and theirs.

I once read that it would be advantageous for each of us to have a much older friend and a much younger friend as it keeps us from sinking too deeply into our own understanding of life; from becoming too set in our ways and inflexible. It keeps our minds from becoming too static in a world that is ever changing. As much as I would not like to acknowledge it, there are limitations to experiencing life only through a book. I know from experience that true understanding can only come from experience and interaction with a living embodiment of what it is you are being confronted with or learning about. I think that is a lesson that we must all re-learn every day and try to achieve when we can.

To my septuagenarian friend: Yes – I am looking forward to having both sets of grandparents in my town, as I am about to dive into an experience that will force me to face parts of life and time that I would probably not face until it is too late. As painful as it may be, I am ready to begin the process of ture understanding and begin to release my hold on things I once held to be true. Now, all I need is to find a younger friend to help broaden my understanding of things and stop living too much in a book.

-Samantha Hanchett, Marketing + Outreach Coordinator

*Please note that the opinions of “Thoughts” are just that and do not necessarily represent the views of the Thomas County Public Library.


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