A New Relationship!

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.

There are numerous stigmatizations against this population, true, but even more detrimental is the fact that we isolate them from our day to day experiences. Think about it…when is the last time you spent quality time with someone in this category?

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?

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2 thoughts on “A New Relationship!

  1. i love that you are dating jack… just really warms my heart. when i was in college i took a class on death and dying, i had to gather data at a nursing home and i know exactly what you are talking about. kind of like the joan baez song say hello in there. everyone want to feel wanted and needed, its a wonderful thing you are doing. i really enjoy watching you check of your list, get cracking, time is fleeting!

  2. psst, me again… i was wondering if on the special k blog, if you could list the 101 things on the layout portion, so that its always visible to us that flit in and out of your blog. i think your concept is wonderful, but for those newly arriving, they don’t get the concept, or see the list in a permanent side bar. just a suggestion, not pushy at all am i!

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