“If we all understood we can learn from both older and younger people, then we’d have a better world.” – Adora Svitak
When my friend Tina went through chemotherapy for breast cancer some years ago, her experience deepened the friendship between her, our friend Georgia, and myself. We all became more spiritual and our conversations reflected that. We wrote emails sharing lessons that we’d learned in life.
Georgia shared several gems:
- Without the beauty of God’s creations to surround them, man’s creations are bleak and cold.
- Life is like a roller coaster, and nothing makes you appreciate the high points like going through the lows and the wild curves.
- Good friends are forever . . . and to quote the Beatles, ‘I get by with a little help from my friends.’
Some of Tina’s comments were:
- Listen to good music every day—all the time.
- Always read a few good pages throughout the day.
- Pray and do everything as if it is the Lord who is setting your goals every day.
I’ve learned much from Tina, Georgia, and other friends near my age. But I’ve also learned from both older and younger friends.
An older friend, Karen, helped me put my job loss in perspective a couple of years ago. “If you don’t need the money right now, view this time as a gift.” And when I went through angst about not knowing how to write a book, she said, “Sue, you have everything you need within you to write a book. When you’re ready, you will write it.”
Another older friend volunteers with me at our parish library. Although I am technically the head librarian, she has advanced degrees in English and Religious Studies and a decade of practical knowledge that I rely on.
But I also learn from my younger friends. My three young-adult children generally make healthier food choices than I do and get more exercise. My daughter Katie is a vegetarian and got me thinking about whether the animals I eat are treated humanely. I choose to eat meat, but after another young friend posted a video showing how some animals are treated, I try to ensure the meat I eat is from animals that were humanely raised.
My young friends are perhaps more idealistic than some of us who may be a bit jaded after setbacks. They don’t stay in work situations that make them unhappy. I see them pursuing their dreams and I’m inspired to keep at it myself.
I also admire their spirit of adventure. They take advantage of greater opportunities for travel. Both of my daughters have lived overseas (one in South Korea and the other in Spain.) These were times of growth and enjoyment for them.
Finally, my young friends accept and respect lifestyles different from theirs including (sometimes with bemusement) mine. I’ve learned from their example.
Probably every generation thinks they can teach their elders a few things. And each generation thinks they can teach those younger than them.
And they’re right.
Do you have friends who are different ages than you? What life lessons have you learned from your friends?