February 3, 2011

SOMETHING COOL ABOUT MIDDLE-AGE




I hear our organization is middle-aged.

I don´t know about you but that sounds to me like B-O-R-I-N-G with a capital B! It´s not young (energetic & passionate) and its not old (sage & respectable). It´s just so....in-between! It´s the never-never land of middle-ness. And what is REALLY frightening is that I am one of the supplements to that statistic!

My journey into the middle years has been wrought with self-reflection, fatigue, rebellion & fruitless efforts to be someone younger or older than what I really am. I have been forced to reckon with forces of a changing body, the reality of teenagers in my home and its accompanying "wake-up calls", emotional crises and spiritual reckoning (as He reminds me that my truest identity is age-less).

Now mind you, I started my 40´s off with a bang: a new baby! (whom I wouldn´t trade for all the world!). And athough psychologically that should have helped me feel younger, I actually just felt more tired! But it did throw me into the baby, toddler, pre-schooler crowd afresh and drew out those young-mother years for a decade longer. Being in that role actually helped me maintain a certain youthfulness and attitude during what could have been potentially more traumatic. (ok, so "dramatic" is part of middle-age!)

The other thing that has seriously helped is the driving desire to stay connected with my kids who are teenagers. Because, they are, after all, cool. The epitomy of cool. And let´s face it, us parents are the epitomy of all-that-is-not-cool. We´ve worked through that now and have come to a happy balance of respect (sometimes my girls even borrow my clothes!). It took time to talk through, be interested in their topics of choice, their friends, staying up late, certain movies, books & music, etc. As our teens mature, our relationship is changing to more of an adult peer relationship and it is fun and it is COOL.

I was thinking about some older workers that I like to be with in our organization (and others outside of it). The ones I most enjoy seem to have a settled sense of who they are but also a sense of appreciation and interest in younger generations and EVEN the humility to believe they might learn something from them! They really blow me away. I mean, I´m supposed to learn from them, right? (And I do.) But I love it when they try to connect with trends and interests of a newer generation and stay relevant to us. That is COOL.

So, wouldn´t it be COOL (please forgive my morbid over-use of the word!) if in our middle-aged organization we were absolutely convinced we must not act typically middle-aged? That we must stay connected to youth (and recruit them!), valuing all the unique things they bring that we might not really understand or embrace? And that we must honor, provide a place and platform for the more sage among us? What would it take for us to be active recruiters of the young and active "honorers" of the old? To have a fluid back-and-forth movement between the generations so that we can have the best of all these worlds?

Let´s stop criticizing the young for their lack of commitment, techno attitudes and issues! Let´s take the elderly among us off our emotional shelf and draw them out! Let´s bridge the gap. Let´s do what we´ve been trained to do in the first place - cross cultures. We´ve got the skills to do this. Let´s move in LOVE as if we were ageless.

Now THAT would be COOL.

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