By some standards I’m older than dirt!
Looking in the rear view, I guess I have lived through a number of decades. They all have such different memories. And lessons learned.
I remember as the 50s turned into the 60s finding out there was a whole big world out there outside my small home town.
Lesson learned: give a child a forest and a lake, a few wild animals and a whole lot of rain and they learn to create a world of wonder and adventure that is second to none.
I remember as the 60s turned into the 70s realizing that there was an even bigger world out there with war and hate on one side and hippies and peace and love on the other. I so wanted to go to Woodstock and Haight-Ashbury but I was still too young; and my limited tv viewing flashed dreadful black and white images of death and destruction in Viet Nam in between sing-a-longs with Tommy Hunter and Ed Sullivan.
Lesson learned: you have choices in this world and there comes a time when you make your own, you don’t have to follow your parent’s.
I remember as the 70s turned into the 80s realizing that home could be found in the most unique places; a small town girl could flourish in a big city if she found a family – for me that family came with a job in small gay bar in Toronto, where I learned that you pretty much can live on hugs alone.
Lesson learned: new experiences can reap amazing benefits if you open your arms and your heart; the world is full of happy people and angry people, accepting people and intolerant people and that is their commonality – their happiness or their intolerance, not their politics or their gender or their income.
I remember as the 80s turned into the 90s realizing the power of being a parent and the responsibility that came with that power. How easy it was to mold young minds but how more important it was to open them instead; how it came with no rule book and how you had to reach into the very depths of your soul to allow them to fall, or to speak out, or to step out into the world with all their innocence.
Lesson learned: little people can teach you a lot… a lot about yourself if you’ll let them, and that they can be right to your wrong. Really! Although my one rule still stands: as soon as you’re rude, you’re wrong.
I remember as the 90s turned into the millennium being so very aware that, no matter what, you suck up your own biases to ensure healthy children; that divorce is not just about you, it’s difficult for everyone and that children are watching and learning and remembering even through the tears.
Lesson learned: you can recreate your life at any time, you never stop making choices for yourself, you can find your strength… and in so doing you can teach your children a few more skills for living successfully.
I remember as the millennium turned into the 10s realizing that life never stops giving you opportunities to reinvent yourself so you may as well go for it; how social media had suddenly become main stream and how great that was and how awful that was; how technology gave you the power to be anywhere and everywhere and it didn’t have to be the magic kingdom of ‘programmers’. I remember what a joy it was to watch the entire globe open up and welcome my children in a way I didn’t know was possible when I was sprouting wings. Most of all I remember the privilege of being present as my next generation came into this world and the gift that was; and how three children had all turned out so well despite their parents.
Lesson learned: progress is only as positive or as negative as its users and their intentions; that we are now a global family and with that comes new responsibilities: kindness, tolerance, acceptance, open-mindedness, and perhaps the most important thing of all: understanding that most of the people of the world are all so wonderful in so many ways, and so alike in their dreams and aspirations… that the villains are the individuals and the vehicles they create to perpetuate their tyranny on the earth and her peoples.
Villains cross cultural barriers, they cross gender barriers and they cross political barriers. It is not a particular race or nationality, it’s not a left-wing or a right-wing, it’s not a catholic or a muslim, it’s not a gender or a trans-gender, it’s not a young person or an old person, it’s not a wealthy person or an impoverished person; it’s a nasty person, a greedy person, a closed-minded person, a hurtful person, a power-abusing person – it’s a person who is so damaged, so fearful, they cannot find a way to reach out their hand to their neighbour at home, let alone their neighbour on another continent.
The way I see it as I look back on even the short history of the world I have lived through… is that it all comes down to Choice. There is no going back in terms of technology and all that we know, but we can make the Choice to use that knowledge and that technology to heal the world: heal the hungry and the thirsty, heal the hurt and sick, heal the environment. We can make the Choice to stop the hate and destruction, stop the hurt and the anger, stop the intolerance, stop the blame and the lying, stop vilifying whole groups of people just because of their skin colour, the name of the power they honour, their income level, who they sleep with behind closed doors, who they vote for.
Perhaps that’s what I see as I look back on even the short history of the world I have lived through – we now need to be making the Choices that will ensure we, and our children and their children, have a world to live in for another millennium- a healthy, happy, trusting, trust-worthy, fed, clothed, interactive, supportive, optimistic, positive (you get my drift?) world.
What’s your Choice?