Open minds beyond expectation

Written by Michelle Robinson

Welcome to February’s edition of Life-Chat. This month I’m exploring a topic close to my heart – the lessons I’ve learned by seeing through younger eyes.

Have you ever felt like there’s a gulf, rather than a gap, between your point of view and that of your family members or colleagues who are older or younger than you? I know I have.

I confess there have been occasions when I have struggled to understand why or how a person might think a particular way or make a certain decision. Why, for example, a son might give up a well-paying, rapidly advancing career in medical research to have a crack at working for a ‘start up’ firm in the U.S.A, just for the experience, lower pay and fewer benefits? During a global pandemic?
That confused me.

If you can relate to this, then like me, you may have felt genuinely perplexed by the way another person’s mind works and their inability to see what seems so obvious (to us).

That was how I felt just over two years ago. I see things completely differently now.

What I have observed as I’ve loved my son throughout his ‘American Adventure’ is that he is having the best times of his life. I delete his two battles with Covid from the list of ‘best times’ – one of them, in the pre-vaccine era, was scary. However, on balance, he has undertaken many character-building challenges, explored amazing places, worked hard to turn his dream into a career, and grown into a man I am proud of in far too many ways to count.

That’s when the ‘penny’ dropped for me. (There I go – showing my age again.)

He is happy because he is living his dream. He rejected my unconscious expectations that my children would be best served by having a ‘safe job’ and settling down. He has allowed the adventurous spirit inside him to have sway. He is the creator of his own experiences – experiences I now completely understand were never mine to own.

Thank goodness I woke up to that.

As a former English teacher, I have always loved the following words by Kahil Gibran. How true they feel to me today:

“Your children are not your children.
They come through you but not from you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
It’s a funny thing, intergenerational relationships.

The year was about 1940 and that man was my Dad. The ‘trashy music’ he insisted on playing was a controversial new genre called Jazz.

It seems that today, just as in generations past, the cycles of youth, creation and renewal continue, exactly as they should.

Until next time, Friends