“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?
Lovely celebration of the people in our lives — no matter what their age.
Thank you much, Andie!
I have been blessed with older friends, as well as older ones. I do glean from both age brackets. My older friends bring so much to the table, both in personal experience, and practical advise. My younger friends keep me on my toes. God has truly blessed me. Blessings to you.
Thanks for this encouraging and inspiring post. I appreciate your humility in learning from people of all ages. The older we get, the easier it is to become rigid and unteachable. Thanks for the reminder to keep growing!
I have always been blessed to have many older friends. Now that I am nearing the older strata of life, I am finding my place to be very much in the middle, especially among generations of women. Attitudes and opportunities for women have changed so much in four generations.
Women older than my mother were accepting of their position in life and wanted for their daughters lives that were pretty much the same—just somewhat better.
Women my mother’s age were pioneers. Some were successful at achieving their dreams. Many had to settle for less. As they aged, they sometimes became bitter as they saw doors opening for their daughters that were locked to them.
Women my age benefited greatly from the advances that came before us and experienced enough of the prejudices of the past to understand. The ways to combat the injustice had been refined for us and many of us used them.
Now, I sometimes see among younger women a condemnation of previous generations with little understanding that forging a new way was so much harder two generations ago. “i worked hard and I was able to do this for my children. Why couldn’t my mother have worked harder to help me more?” A new bitterness.
Life. It’s all very interesting.
I have seem to attract friendships with younger people. One of the happiest things I’ve learned from them is to embrace technology. That has changed my world and helps me move forward with the sharing of my gifts.
The majority of my friends are different ages to me. My male friends are all much younger than me. Because I am so young at heart, I tend to get on much better than with guys my own age, as I have a lot more shared interests with them and things in common. Female friends tend to be the same age as me or older.
This is beautifully written Sue, and it is so true how we all have something to teach and learn regardless of age.
I have always been very open to friendships with all age ranges as well…but I seem to attract friendships with those who are older. In many cases throughout my high school years, I would go over to a friends house and end up spending most of the time with hanging out with the parents instead of the friend I was there to see…lol.
Thank you for this beautiful post and reminder to stay open for lessons from those around us. 🙂
Wonderful post on age really being irrelevant to friendship and mentoring. Nalina’s line is exactly right: “Stay open for lessons from all those around us.” When we are open to learning and teaching and being friends with all who are open to it, then age does not matter. Relationship does. Great post!
Good observations on friendships across generations! When I was younger, I had a very good friendship with an older woman who, I think, became a sort of mother surrogate because she was interested in literature, as was my mother. I now wish I had more younger friends to make up for daughters who have migrated away from home. I guess it’s my responsibility to foster such friendships. I know a few younger women in writers groups, but they’re all so busy with work and family.
If your daughter lived in South Korea, she might be interested in a book that has just come out: “Korea, Are You at Peace?” Here’s a link: http://www.writinglife-javsimson.com/books/
Ages doesn’t matter in friendship. I have so many friends wit different different ages. Every person is special on this earth. Respect and give love everyone.