BY KATHLEEN SCHOMAKER
At a recent family reunion I visited with out-of-town grandchildren, grandnieces, and grandnephews. I had a particularly delightful time with eight-month-old Isabelle, whose favorite activity that afternoon was high-speed crawling: down on my hands and knees (on the carpet) I went!
We have to crawl before we walk
While Isabelle provided most of the kinetic part of the play, I moved a bit on hands and knees—from side to side and back and forth—inviting her into a crawly-dance under and around me. She responded delightedly and we shared smiles and giggles in our interlude of floor play!
I was joyfully reminded that day that, as a grandparent in the 21st Century, I am called to love the children and grandchildren by doing my part to create a sustainable, green legacy for Isabelle and her many peers. And I think of that as a calling to become an elder as I grow older. However, the concept of eldering has largely disappeared in our culture, so we are learning again what that means. Like Isabelle, as an aspiring elder, I have to crawl before I can walk!
Finding the joy in eldering
In crawling toward a joyful eldering, I take heart from the late neurologist Oliver Sacks’ inspirational writing on The Joy of Old Age: “One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities…One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty . . . One can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age.”
Decades of experience endow us—individually and collectively—with more wisdom than we are called upon to express: insights into the most pressing challenges in life and in the world. And we can reflect on those challenges from a place of relative equanimity. At the same time, we may feel overwhelmed by the social, ecological and economic changes we are witnessing, while our long view reveals challenges for our beloved grandchildren.
Overwhelm can bring us to our knees crawling through feelings of despair. Yet, as our love for the children calls to us and as Oliver Sacks reminds us, we have seen, learned, and endured much: we need not succumb to that overwhelm. We can take joy in the prospect of being part of a responsive generation of Grandparent-Elders.
Youngers and elders together
As your children and grandchildren accelerate their movements toward sustainability, keep yourself moving as a green grandparent-elder with Gray Is Green where we provide information and inspiration.
We are excited about our new partnership with GRAND Magazine!
We know that someday the grandchildren will ask: What did my grandparents do when they knew?
Meanwhile, we are betting you are already underway as a Green Grandparent. Click here to read about elder-inspired holidays. Then give your grandchildren’s future the gift of your expanded recycling commitment by joining our partner organization RecycleBank.
Across the generations, our shared purpose toward sustainable living is a work-play for an Earthy green future—and a remarkable part of the legacy we will leave to these loved ones. Join our Gray Is Green newsletter list to join the Grandparent-Elders movement. Together we are learning to crawl and play on behalf of our—and our grandchildren’s—life on Earth.
Kathleen Schomaker works with Gray Is Green to inspire eldership on “greening” our communities as healthy places to live well, then pass on to beloved next generations.