Sharing a cuppa and getting enlightened

If you ask most people who they’d like to hang out with, most will give you the name of someone younger than themselves. People are typically attracted to the energy of youth. I like hanging out with my daughter. She delights me. But if I really think about it (which I am doing, right now, at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am…but typical for us writing sorts), some of my most genuinely delightful encounters have been when sitting around and enjoying the wisdom of the elders. I’ll proudly admit it. I like 70 and 80 year olds. Because I am always on a quest for more knowledge, strive to be an agent of social change, and have a deep interest in world movement, history and politics, some of the best sources of opinions and overall wealth of information sits with our elders. Underutilized, generally ignored, but, in my opinion, priceless.

A couple of weeks ago, my prolific mother, who at 71 is really unstoppable, had a group of her acquaintances over to our home for a pre-theater brunch. My mother teaches a brilliant play-reading class that has grown over the years and brings about 50 very bright people together every couple of weeks to delve into the mysterious depths of the playright’s mind. So, as is her tradition, once a year, she invites these wonderful people to our home, where we eat, drink and make merry. Most of the attendees are in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and the power of knowledge that sits in our home (and around a table every two weeks) is formidable. A sample of just a few: a former television producer and director (now philanthropist); a grande dame of the Quebec theatre scene for decades; a retired teacher who still tutors troubled teens; a patron of the arts who supports just about every theatre in Los Angeles; and on and on. I learned more in two hours than in two weeks of regular living — in a living room, drinking decaf (a lot of you will laugh over that), and eating around a few tables.

I used to hang out with my grandmother. An artiste, a pioneer in women’s rights before there were women’s rights, flamboyent and tempermental, but she was my friend and a strong influence into her 90’s. We would discuss life, world politics, the world of art, smoking, travel, sports. Her favorite color was purple. Her favorite artist was Lismer. She was a horrible driver. She LOVED a good cuppa coffee.

Now, I like to hang out with my mother. I don’t have to. I have a world of friends, acquaintances and work colleagues. But she is a lifelong learner and so am I and I delight in our conversations, our agreements and our disagreements. She’s a spitfire, my personal rabbi, a teacher by nature, an artist by design. So, yesterday morning, after an extremely busy weekend and an ungodly amount of driving in LA traffic, I had to hop back on the road for yet another day of 3 hours of driving. Just before I left, I heard the sound of fresh coffee being ground, followed by a pot percolating and as I was heading out the door with child in tow, my mother, my mom, my elder, passed me a little brown bag with a breakfast for the road and a mug of steaming fresh coffee to warm me up. This is not a daily occurance, but it was an instinctive extension of love to get me on my way. It made my day. Amazing. Just like that, in a moment. Mixed in with a discussion of a recent article in the Globe and Mail on geographic movement of the workforce.

I’ve written before about multi-generational living. Really, it is just going back to community in the way that community used to be. 7 year olds learning from 20 year olds learning from 50 year olds learning from 70 year olds. That is the context I prefer to live in and the world I wish to be in. Rejoicing in the wealth of knowledge of my elders and enjoying the energy of youth. While drinking a cuppa.

2 thoughts on “Sharing a cuppa and getting enlightened

  1. Hi Wendy! What a heart warming post! It’s like a virtual cuppa! I agree that we can learn so much from older generations! Interestingly, though, I’ve been learning more about GenY and realize we can all learn a lot from each other! I guess this is another vote for intergenerational living and working!

  2. Ha! I love that…a virtual cuppa. And I agree with you, just as Boomers set the tone for the past 60 years, Gen Y is setting the stage for the next 60.

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