When your mostly-adult house-guests are almost 50 years younger than you, your perspective changes. Translation: you know deeper in the bones that you are getting old. It’s weird. But it can be and usually is a lot of fun.
Of course, I can do the math. I know how old I am. I can read a calendar. Simple arithmetic. But this is different. This is like wonder, like awe, like a fascination with not only what I once was but what I am not-so-slowly becoming. I watch them. I listen to them. They ‘get things’ quickly and get to it even faster. And I am getting slow. Again; I knew I was slowing down but it is not until the tortoise encounters the hare that he really gets it. With Leon and Ole here, I am getting it. So is Sal. We are old turtles.
Last night – around nine – reading in bed, “Wow! Wish I had the energy to go launch kayaks and go for a paddle after a long day. Can’t do that anymore!”
“Forget kayaking! I’m just hoping I can stay awake until they get back.”
There is the age gap, of course. Which is more than a generation gap. More than a cultural gap. We are like walking North American history books standing in front of new foreign students. Much of what we have to say is dated and pointless but sometimes we’ll bring up a topic they find interesting and then the old man gets to pontificate. This is where old age has an advantage. It’s all in the aid of mentoring, of course, but, in reality, it is how I enjoy myself with young people. I like ‘messin’ wi’ch ’em’.
“So, you see……a formal education is really the opposite of learning. It is the narrowing of the mind into a standardized format that serves the state or the institution or the corporation but, for you, it will be a restriction. A degree is a document indicating a specialization that will limit your life choices. If you get a degree in say, social work, and it cost you thousands of Euros to get and years to obtain, what is the likelihood that you’ll spend decades being in that line of work? The odds are pretty good that, with marriage, mortgage, kids and a steadily increasing income you will be literally hand-cuffed to social work even though, in your later years, you may no longer have the interest. I do not recommend doing what I am suggesting by talking like this but I am saying that real learning is the most exciting thing living has to offer and you should continue to pursue it in all forms not just the one that you are pre-programmed into by your culture and the dull institutions it has given rise to. When something is institutionalized, it is incarcerated, it is locked up, it is no longer free. And that is what the institutions like universities and colleges have become. Traveling like you are is an education. A real education.”
“Unh, can I have the last potato?”
“Is there any more of that cheese dish?”
OK, I admit it. I have ’em trapped at the dinner table and I take advantage. It is a boon for me that Sally’s cooking is so good. You can often see the young people pulled between eating some more or saving their brains from my prying and running from the room but I am a guiltless Machiavellian in this way. You see, my ranting and raving only makes them eat faster and then the dishes get done earlier and I can get to bed sooner.
And they think I am just a boring old fool…..little do they know how they are being manipulated into giving me peace and quiet after having served me with sweat and toil earlier in the day. Hahahahahhahahahaha…………….(imagine me slanting my eyes and rubbing my hands with glee).