Last night I had an excellent date. Conversation flowed easily from politics (we disagree) to our family members to experiences in our lives that bring us joy. He ordered me wine and complained to the waitstaff when my fish was over charred. He shared his bread, and insisted on paying the bill. He complimented my appearance and made me feel feminine but strong and capable.
It is a joy to announce that I have befriended Jack who is 86 years old. He had a somewhat “bad” week, although he would never describe it in those terms. Men of his generation don’t complain. They bear it, but not grinning. So it was an easy choice for me to change plans at the last minute to be in his company.
Jack is one of my most favorite companions, and we visit weekly. The 2006 consensus estimated that 1.7 % of almost 300 million Americans are over the age of 85 (5.1 million people!). That’s a pretty big number…for an invisible group of people. They are even called the invisible generation.
Contrary to popular conviction that learning ends with one’s formal education, adults are constantly in the posture of learning and formation. Learning as an adult is a form of empowerment, where formation leads to positive growth and change. It instills me with a newfound sense of responsibility to seriously consider my own role in my formation. I sometimes hinder my own learning by just following my routine, doing what is comfortable rather than exposing myself to new experiences (Thus my list!). I know I can open myself up more to listening to the perspective of my friend, for instance.
Adults are always engaged in a cyclical mode of development, and have the potential of changing themselves and making an impact on the learning of others. My friendship with Jack is the best class I’ve ever taken in my life. With three masters and a PhD, and a butt load of loans, that statement packs a big punch.
What relationship stretches your perspective?