28 Sep 2015

Searching for my peers + observations of the generations + a call for In-Betweeners

I miss my peers. That's you if you were born in the region of 1965s.

I don't mean they have all been abducted by aliens; and yes, I can name those I do see and are good friends with. It's just so few.

When you think about it, it seems we always have peers with us. Certainly if we go through the paces of school - we are organised along age lines and march merrily (or not) with the flow until...

all our paths diverge.

This sensation first struck me when I made a mental note of people I am spending time with, talking to, facebook following or being followed. They are all older or younger than me. It felt like such a surreal discovery, I was going to keep it to myself until in a casual conversation, someone else mentioned that he seemed to have lost his peers. I sat up. Well, I was not alone in my existential corner after all.

Perhaps I have neglected my friends I moaned. ("What? Friends since kindergarten?" - my actual words to an actual person). So I embarked on trying to find them. Facebook was very helpful here. Soon enough, I had an assortment of them like so many different kinds of chocolates in a box: old school friends, former church mates, groupies...  We even sometimes talked about getting a class reunion, an alumni gathering, a back to the past blast...but very little would happen. "O move on" someone said. I admit I have always had this nostalgic twinge to me. But is there more to it?

In fact, I did meet up with a group of old friends from youth days in church and it was very heartwarming and of course a lot of labour to figure out the nearly twenty years of life done! Thankfully we shared a tacit understanding that this meet ups will occur slowly over a long time.

But in real life, the everyday, I find that most of the women I relate with are older than me or else, younger.

The older women are in structured groups inevitably, mentoring group, exercise class and work-related relationships. The younger ones are discovered and cultivated through interest groups, activities and life mentoring.

There is something else. In both cases, though I am comfortable and enjoy them; I also find it takes quite a bit of effort to connect at times. You know, the humour, the language, the hidden codes in communication. I feel young with one, and old with the other. Both a privilege and a puzzle.

Maybe this is the more. There is this beautiful exhortation to women:

"...older women...teach what is good...train the younger women.."  ~Titus 2v25

I love the way this connects the generations, generating a community, a continuity, an interdependence, a sense of honour for the older and a compassionate concern for the younger. The text does have cultural elements (love husbands for example, which won't apply to single women) but the overall theme is one of an older generation investing in the younger one.

Alas, this is a huge difficulty. As I look at both sides I see a huge divide. Younger women today are so different from their older sisters! The access, opportunity, self-determination, knowledge base, even values are so different. I feel intimidated and wonderfully overwhelmed at what the younger set can get up to. I wonder if they need me at all. 

It's not unusual to find one generation flustered over the other; and mothers, aunts and older women in general cannot find successors for work and ministry. 

But this isn't in the end about fashion, language and technological changes. We can learn the LOLs and who doesn't love emojis:

This is about something deeper. We have a bent away from each other. Reaching out, trusting, risking a relationship has always been difficult. No one wants to feel foolish, or worse, get rejected. The air we breathe today breeds individualism and narcissism. 

It will take a lot of humility on both sides to look up and gaze across until our we sense that in the older/younger woman is a heart beating much like ours; and perhaps women who can --

enjoy both kopi-see and Latte
eat chee-cheong fun today and eggs benedict tomorrow
read 150 Psalms as well as Fifty Shades (or about it)
articulate her core values and listen to new ones
hold on to her faith and hold on to a doubter
release her children to adolescence yet go ga-ga over new borns
The in-betweeners.

These women can remind us all that while some strain will always exist between the generations; there is equally, if not more true; a precious bond in sisterhood that becomes bold and holds us all together if we tend to it. 

I hope to do so; and if you are my peer, join me. Just this: please let me know so I know you are real!

Your story and your scars are important for the next generation if you share it out of love for them.

Do you sometimes miss your peers?
How can you reach someone older, or someone younger?

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