You know that moment when you turn into that person who says, "What is wrong with people these days?" It's a sobering moment if you're self-aware enough because you realize that means you're old enough to aptly use the phrase "back in my day."
I have a small set of friends who are 10+ years older than me, some of them my parents' ages or close to it. (I wonder if they'll get upset that that's how I described them? Isn't that better than "...who are much older than me" or "...who were born long before me"?) The times I spend with these friends are some of my very favorite, and I'll tell you why -- they take their ten-to-thirty years on me and, without even knowing it, teach me how to gracefully grow into my 40s, 50s and 60s.
From my baby-boomer and gen-X friends, I've learned...
1. Slow down. The volume of words spoken when I'm with my older friends is grossly fewer than when I'm with my own age group. My baby-boomer and gen-X friends aren't afraid of silence, they listen thoroughly, and they're not in a hurry. I'm completely guilty of moving from one thing to the next like a tightly scheduled machine that is unhealthily programmed. These friends teach me to slow down and focus on quality, not quantity, of things done in a day.
2. Lift out what matters. One of my favorite people says to me all the time, "Eh, that don't matter." I share an embarrassing story or something I did that I thought was so stupid, and she reminds me that in the grand scheme of life, not as many people as I think care about my gaffes. My older friends teach me how to lift out what matters and move the heck on.
3. Generosity. Whether it's random gifts when I least expect it, the kindness of watching my daughter so G and I can have a date night, or treating me to dinner, my older friends are generous. I used to be scolded every time I'd offer to pay for my half of dinner when I dined with one of my older friends. Finally she said, "You're never going to pay for dinner." This does not stop me from trying! I would pay for both of our dinners to spend that time with her. But she and my other older friends show me how I want to spend my time, talents, and treasures--by blessing others.
4. Friendship. The older ladies and gentlemen in my life offer more than earned wisdom. These friends are a throwback to thank-you cards, meaningful conversation without fluff and buzz words, and text message-free relationships that stand the test of time. Real life is shared in person.
If you're reading this and you're one of my older/could-be-my-parent friends, please know I felt uncomfortable every time I used a descriptor that would make you sound or feel old. And please know my life would be incomplete without your guidance, humor, insight, and friendship. [Insert heart emoji here].