My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”
I want to talk about old friends. Not old friends like “old friends,” but old friends as in old friends.
Sorry, sorry, I know… That won’t get us anywhere. You can’t hear my tone or see my expressions.
So. Not old friends like friends you’ve known for a long time, old friends as in friends who are older in age.
You see, I had lunch with a new friend a few days ago. She’s a few decades older than myself, and as I was driving home I got to thinking about how many of my friendships are with people much older than myself.
And about how much of a blessing that has been to me.
You can probably blame my having more friends decades older than myself than friends my own age on the fact that I was homeschooled. I wasn’t surrounded by friends and classmates my own age, and was therefore forced to pay attention to and learn how to interact with people of all different ages. I get along better with old people, for the most part.
It has benefited me greatly.
I think as a culture we have done ourselves a great disservice by largely ignoring the elders among us. We (the younger generation) want to live our own lives and do our own things. We don’t want to be bothered by the old folk’s admonitions and advice and time consuming stories.
So we make our friends among the people in our own age groups, and for the most part just ignore those older folks as much as possible.
I’m really not sure how we’ve excused this behavior to ourselves. Is it because we’re too busy to make the time for older people? Is it because we don’t have anything in common to talk about? Is it because they talk too much and we can’t get a word in edgewise? Or are we just kinda oblivious to their very existence, and don’t even think to talk to or get to know older non-relatives?
I don’t know.
But I would like to tell you some of the ways I have been blessed by having older friends in my life, and why I plan to continue cultivating relationships with people much older than myself.
For one thing, they’re my biggest fans! Little old ladies (and men) are always the ones who compliment and affirm me the most. They’re the people who come up to me after church to tell me how wonderful my music was. They’re the ones who notice the sweater I’m wearing and ask if I made it and ooh and ahh over it. They show interest in me and my life. Maybe that’s a selfish reason to hang out with them, but I know I sure do enjoy the affirmation!
Now, I’m not gonna lie, older people do like to talk. A lot. But when you take the time to actually listen to them (instead of standing there trying to think of a way to escape the situation), you will usually find that they have the best stories, the most interesting viewpoints on life, and a lot of good advice. Advice that is definitely worth listening to and heeding.
I need to tell you something else I’ve noticed.
People my age – we’re all in the same boat. And we don’t know what to do about it! We’re all struggling with similar things in life, and we don’t know how any of it is gonna turn out.
Don’t get me wrong – I have absolutely nothing against friends my own age. It’s great to hang out with girls my age and talk about things we have in common and whine about similar struggles we’re going through.
But we really don’t know how to help each other with these struggles. We’re all struggling with the same things. None of us have any answers yet. We don’t have a clue how to advise each other!
And even more than that, we don’t always know how to even react to each other. In our world, there are still some things new under the sun.
I’ve had things happen in my life that friends in my age group could (and did) sympathize with and support me through, but couldn’t really understand. It was new and different to them. They didn’t quite know how to react to it, or how to comfort or advise me in the midst of it.
Not so with my older friends. They’ve been around long enough to know that there really is nothing new under the sun, and I’m sure every one of them could tell me of a similar event that they or someone they know had been through. They have the experience and wisdom to know how to react and comfort and advise and encourage me. They’ve been the ones that, during difficult times, gave me hope that things would be better in the future. They’ve given me the courage to get through those rough times, or to make (or stick with) my difficult decision, or to pick up the pieces of my life and keep on going.
I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be able to email or call or visit someone when I’m struggling with something, and know that they will not only be overjoyed to hear from or see me, but they will be very happy to listen to my dilemma and then give me their opinion and advice on the matter. And for the most part it’s really good advice. They’ve all lived a lot of life.
To me, it’s sad, seeing how many young people are missing out on the rich, entertaining, fulfilling relationships they could have in their life if they would only open up to more opportunities to hang out with and spend some time with older people.
Really, my younger-generation friends, just give it a try! You’ll be wiser and better off for the friendship. Your older friends will be happy to have someone to spend some time with and talk to. It’s a win-win situation!
P.S. In my opinion, it’s also much easier to cultivate relationships with older people. For the most part, they’re way better at adulting than most of us younger folks are, and there’s not nearly as much drama involved as with younger friends. Old people are awesome!