Recently, my then four-year-old accompanied me to work. I have often taken her to Tafta events and functions and have watched her interact with our elders. This particular function was held at the Mary Asher Wellness Centre – in a room of elders; she floated around generously sharing her hugs and kisses.
I was amused to see her reaction to a particular gentleman. She respectfully shook his hand and within minutes she was dancing with him on the dance floor to the tunes of Mafikizolo. She was captivated by his smile and gentle demeanor. As I watched the two of them, a smile crept onto my face as I witnessed the magic of two people sharing their joy. It was a poignant reminder of why the very young and the very old often share a strong bond.
Whilst most adults are inhibited by social conditioning, children in their innocence, and elders in their wisdom, care very little about what other people think. They are able to interact in a particularly honest and open way, and just be themselves, without fear of judgement.
This is a lesson we need to take to heart, especially in our dealings with our elders.
Sometimes it’s difficult to look past the trembling hands and rheumy eyes and remember that this person was once someone’s beloved child … someone’s sweetheart … a mother or father … boss or valued employee. Someone important.
We have to let our elders know that they are still important and valued. That means allowing them to be themselves without fear of judgement, and listening to what they have to tell us. Because there is much we can learn from them, if we take the time to stop and listen.