“When a knowledgable old person dies, a whole library disappears.” –An old African proverb
I read an article today from my local newspaper titled, “Older people have knowledge to share—if we just listen” by Bob Rudy. It caught my attention for several reasons, one being that I spent time as a hospice volunteer a few years ago listening to the fascinating stories of people’s lives. Not only was it interesting to me, but the way their faces lit up as they told their stories turned out to be a gift for both of us.
I’ve also been working on my families genealogy for over 20 years now. I was fortunate to start it at a time when my parents were still alive, and as I dove into it I found myself wanting to know more about what their life was like growing up. They’ve both been gone a long time now and still I have question I wish I would have asked. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have never taken the time I did though to get to know them. It is true as the quote states as each family member passes away, a whole library disappears.
The other reason this subject is close to my heart is because I am a story teller myself, and as the younger generations calls us, I’m an older person myself. I like the phrase that getting older is not for wimps, because it is a time in a humans life when we have to work really hard to hang onto what we have. Sometimes it even feels like your slowly disappearing, fading into space as we lose our hearing, sight, coordination and many other facilities that make you feel like a child again. But ask us to tell you one of our stories and we become energized. Our eyes will light up, and just maybe we’ll feel like our lives matters once again, and you’ll hear a real live story like the ones you read in a book you borrow from the library.
Today the first words I write in my journal is a chant from the 60’s. “The whole world is watching.” I don’t think I must explain why with all the confusion and unrest in our county right now many of us are caught in the anxiety it’s created. But what is it about this chant that feels so familiar? “I’ll google it,” I say to myself. This being one of the things I like most about the instant information we have at our finger tips.
I’m taken back to a time in my life that was full of unrest between people’s feelings, rights and beliefs. While its true we’ve come a long way baby, we’re still dealing with the same issues today only on a different level of understanding or should I say misunderstanding.
Hum! I hear the words of my Dad echoing back to me from a far, “history has a habit of repeating itself Connie.”
As I ponder the thought of this repeated history I realize it’s bigger than any one person. It’s an accumulation of all of us. But I also see the correlation to my own repeated struggles. How they come back to haunt me, wearing a different disguise, and always playing out under a different scenario. Eventually I come to see the similarities, and the lesson that it holds within it. I ask myself at this point what is it that I need to change within myself to see what this lessons has to offer me. I know that none of us likes to think that we are a part of the problem, but if we hold onto anger, frustration and discontent we add to the ball of fire it creates. It’s not anyone else fault what we feel or choose to experience. Whatever goes on inside of us that isn’t already a part of who we are, enters in from the outside. It’s the people we associate with, the things we read, what we watch on TV, and stream of information that’s at our finger tips. It’s the faith we practice and political stance we follow. Wherever our thoughts are is where we’ll find ourselves.
So, what have I learned from the chant that was playing in my head? What was it trying to tell me about myself? I realize that I’m one tiny being among the many, but the whole world is still watching. The whole world is still affected by whatever I add or take from it. So if I want to see a change in world for the better good of all human kind, than I must be the change I want to see first.