Educating the Old F…olks

Yesterday I went on just a bit about how certain types of “educational” efforts directed at the older generation may not work as well as they could (unless the aim really IS to shame people and make yourself look “woke” or whatever the current term for that is).

Today, I want to remind myself, and you, steadfast readers, that there are oh-so-many ways that people under 40 have been teaching me new things, and I’m loving it.

I’m serious. I’m looking at YOU. And I have on day-glo rainbow clothing. That means something.

One person, E., has been especially helpful, and I even took the time to write a nice thank-you note today. Reading her Facebook posts over the past months and years has given me great insight into the choices we make, living authentically, and learning all along. Her candid thoughts about her mental health and parenting struggles also warmed my heart and made me feel much less alone. She’s one of the many people I know who identify as bisexual or gender fluid, even if they look on the surface to be in a more traditional relationship. It gives me great hope for the future.

My son’s gf (that’s what she calls it) is another one I learn a lot from. She’s got lots and lots to say, and sometimes it’s rather raw, but she always makes it clear that she’s sharing her thoughts and not pushing them on anyone else. That lets me read and learn and not feel attacked, no matter how much she hates capitalists. I’ve learned so much about the life of people who don’t “fit in” to stereotypes, have barriers to overcome (like not driving in Austin, Texas, not being able to afford your very important medications, dealing with autism symptoms, etc.). Seeing how she’s creating a good life with my son, having fun on Instagram, and being the creative soul she is gives me even more hope for the future.

You are all, to me, like the beauty of the beautyberry. Really. I appreciate y’all for showing up.

A couple other friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, along with some bloggers share their lives’ ups and downs, talk about issues that are important to them, and give me insights into aspects of life I’d never know about otherwise: those dealing with chronic illnesses, veterans negotiating their limited benefits, immigrants and emigrants, people with passionate religious beliefs, pacifists, entrepreneurs, people whose kids are transitioning, urban gardeners and ranchers.

SQUIRREL! I shall now turn my attention to something else.

I’ve learned about the food I eat, the water I drink, the legal system, spiritual commonalities…all because people are willing to share their lives in ways that welcome others to their world without insisting that you join their world.

That’s the thing: these lovely humans don’t expect me to become their clone. They just share. They don’t judge me for being me or thinking the way I do. They don’t put me or others down.

And on my part, I vow to remember that if I say something racist, sexist, or other -ist, it just means I said a thing, not I AM a thing. A great NPR show I listened to last week made that clear, and someone else mentioned it in my long collection of comments on my Facebook post yesterday on call-out culture. I thought it would be good to share, and maybe an example of me continuing to learn and grow, which I hope for all of you, too.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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