|After a lot of thought, I decided to dedicate this issue to my great aunt, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 96. Her passing made me think of the subject of this posting, and in honor of her life, I want to reflect on it.
In these modern times, where most people live away from their families, where close extended families are the exception, where everybody is so busy with their life, it is not uncommon that we rarely take the time to sit and talk to our elderly relatives, or call them to just chat.
When I grew up, not so long ago, in Ecuador, things were very different, I didn’t live with my grandparents, but their homes where walking distance from mine, as were those of my uncles, aunts, great aunts, etc. Every single weekend, more or less, the entire family would get together at my grandmother’s house and I would often sleep over at my aunt’s house, my grandma’s house, my great aunt’s house, etc. We would vacation together, and so on. My relatives were part of my everyday life and although I am a single child, I always felt totally safe and surrounded by love, care and… wisdom!
Growing up with a diverse mix of family members is an incredible blessing, not just for all the help they can bring and the love and companionship, but also the great wisdom that comes from being able to understand, accept and deal with the differences between generations. Nowadays kids seem to be almost isolated to their own group of peers, and so do many adults for that matter, even if they see or talk to their parents or grandparents often, there is a great disconnect between generations, and often a lack of understanding and patience for the elderly.
Taking time to listen to our elderly and learn from them is invaluable, there is great wisdom that comes from experience and from having seen a different world. I feel lucky I was raised to respect, love and understand my elderly, and I got to grow up close to them. My great aunt was my dad’s aunt, and for me, she was my third grandmother, I loved her dearly and she taught me many things. She was a model of generosity, compassion, humility and simplicity. She was just pure genuine love!
When I think of cross-generational wisdom, I think of the importance of living in close relationship to different generations, because every age has its wisdom, just as much as we can learn from an older relative, we can also learn from a younger one, young children for instance, remind us of the things we have forgotten, like the capacity to live in the present, to be amazed by simple things, to laugh out loud for no reason, to be fearless, etc.
So, in this societies of nuclear families and busy lives, lets not forget to expose our children to other generations as much as we can and to encourage spending quality time with grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts, etc. The time we spend with them is priceless and never comes back. As long as your loved ones are alive, take the time to be with them, talk to them, listen to them and really BE present when you do it.
Have a great week!
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