“ THE STUDENT IS READY- THE MASTER APPEARS”
When we settled in this college town, we weren’t a perfect fit, even before the kids and gran- kids came. The gap has become wider as the years passed. In restaurants, we’re always the most senior dinners. Dining with youths offer us a change of perspective, because they’re bright, over-caffeinated but seem to have nothing in common with us.
“Gramps” doesn’t wear grungy cargo pants and Grandma is never seen in tummy flashing crop tops.
The students focus on themselves, so we dine in quiet co-existence rather than act like judgmental parents at a frat bash. Minako and I began dinner last night thinking how students are sealed off in a separate campus reality, as one editorial put it:
“What students .. gain in the enhanced sense of academic community that comes from campus life, they can lose in regular interaction with people who don’t dwell in the world of the academy. The campus, by design, restricts opportunities to encounter people from a wider range of professions, education levels and class backgrounds. Whatever their socioeconomic backgrounds, students .. have daily routines that are very different from those of lawyers, shopkeepers or manual laborers — and that shapes their worldviews.
It also takes away the chance to encounter people with different roles in society, from retail workers to landlords — interactions that would remind them they won’t be students forever”. Nick Burns. 8/2/22 N.Y.Times
By the evening’s end, we experienced an extreme change of perspective.
The meal was over, so I left her alone and visited the washroom. Returning, I offered Minako a hand up so she could squeeze between two tables. She held back to say good bye to the attractive 20 something couple in the adjacent table. I tugged a bit harder but still she held back. Strangely, they’d become engaged in conversation.
I thought to myself. “Curious: She never engages or even enjoys talking with strangers.”
Walking home I asked, what was that about?
“You were in the washroom, and that young couple got into an ugly spat.” she replied.
“I leaned over and told them they had so many good years ahead of them. They shouldn’t spoil it with words they couldn’t take back or would regret.”
“I anticipated they’d tell me ‘Mind your own business!’. Instead, they responded with courteous appreciation, like I was their Japanese grandmother. We became deeply involved in a conversation about relationships. By the time you returned, we were sorry to end the chat. I like the two of them.”
Walking further, I no longer felt we were out of place geezers. We were at home and belonged here as ageless columns spreading spousal wisdom.
Wow! Good for Minako! What a treasure.
“Walking further, I no longer felt we were out of place geezers. We were at home and belonged here as ageless columns spreading spousal wisdom.
Interacting regularly with those younger than we provides many opportunities to share experiences and mutual wisdom. That’s why some of us continue to teach, past conventional ‘expiration dates’; some of us want to build delivery systems to encourage such discourse.
The Boston Ballet has a new “Outreach’ project to encourage interaction with communities which are not normally ‘Ballet-centric’. Perhaps this may help spread the word, and keep dance-and-music relevant, going forward: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/08/03/arts/boston-ballets-ni-public-art-offers-360-degree-views-dance-under-portable-dome/#bgmp-comments