As we get older, we go from being the next generation to giving birth to the next generation, and then that generation gives birth to the next—and on it goes. Whether we have children ourselves or come into contact and connection with the younger generation in other ways, we can’t help but think about the characteristics, experiences and potential future of the generations that will follow us.
Each of us has hopes, expectations, and fears for the generations that will be here after we have gone, especially when those generations include our own children and grandchildren. We can barely keep up with the changes that we have lived through in the past 60, 70, or 80 years and changes keep occurring at an unprecedented pace. We can see the beginnings of the advances and emerging challenges of their adult lives as we watch culture through the lens of our own generation, but there is no way to live their emerging experiences or know what will happen or evolve in the future.
It also seems more and more challenging for most older adults to cultivate and sustain close emotional connections with those who are part of the next generation. As older people, we seem to become more and more invisible and more and more disregarded. The next generations assume that our understanding of things is limited and way out of date. As older people, we are viewed as ignorant and “not with the times”, with few exceptions for special parent-child and grandparent-grandchildren relationships that defy this norm.
So how do we view these younger generations—our children and grandchildren. How do we view them with respect to work, character qualities, motivation, capacity for reciprocity in relationships? Let’s talk about our attitudes toward both younger and older people and our hopes, fears and other feelings about leaving to them their job of creating the future.
- Talk a bit about your process of shedding the layers. How has your own thinking evolved about what to keep and what to let go of?
- At what point in time did you shift from letting go simply as a need to get organized and began thinking of it as a process of weeding down a lifetime of accumulation?
- Talk about one or two things you know you want to have with you until the end of your life.
- What do you want to save to last beyond your personal lifetime? And where would you like those things to go after you die? What do those things symbolize about you or your life?
What motivates your decisions about these things? Do you have a sense of purpose in keeping certain things, passing others along, and completely releasing other things?