What must it be like to live for almost a century? All the things you must have seen over the years – changes in technology, the environment, society, culture, and even your own personal evolution. How must it feel to still be surprised when you come across something you haven’t seen or heard of in 60, 70, or 80 years?
We have access to so much information because of technology and the internet. We have the capability to see and learn about things we never had any thought or interest in, just by scrolling through the random posts on our social media feeds. But our most seasoned generations don’t seem to be as tech savvy, relying on the grands and great-grands to bring them up to speed.
I met this man at a work conference that just had to stop and ask me about my skin. He was surprised that he was looking at someone with features that he never knew were possible, even after all his years of living. He admitted that being from North Dakota, he didn’t know very many black people, let alone black and white people. Some might argue that this man from the Silent Generation should have remained quiet. I tried my best to redirect the conversation into one that was productive and kind.
As Thanksgiving approaches, and I think about the gathering of family, I remember my grandmother who passed only 2 months ago. She was 94. I wonder what still amazed her in her latter years. Who knows? Maybe not much, since she had lived in Nigeria and the UK, and then New York City for at least the last 40+ years.
My grandmother was a woman of strength, integrity, and love. She had a poise about her, and I believed her to be wise. She came from a generation that when she talked, at times, it was very proverbial, even poetic.
While my friend from Fargo had a delivery that absolutely mortified my coworker who I was standing with at the time, would it have been wise for him to just observe us and keep walking? Or was the wise decision not to miss his opportunity to inquire and learn something new…something he figured he may never encounter a second time back in North Dakota?
It’s amazing that your mere presence in a situation or a place can have the ability to forever change someone’s reality, even if you never speak to them. But if you do have the opportunity to engage them, what would you say?