It was about two years ago when I realized I had become obsolete.
One day, while my kids were talking and laughing with their friends, I listened and smiled in the background. I enjoyed their laughter and banter. But my smile soon faded when I realized I had no idea what they were talking about. I had no idea whom they were referencing and what they were alluding to. All the cool things I used to do and know were clearly no longer cool, replaced by all these new things. In that moment, I realized I had become a dinosaur and it frightened me. I didn’t like knowing I was headed down the path of the Dodo Bird or the great Woolly Mammoth.
I winced and weighed my options. I could either GET CURRENT or become extinct. I chose the former and got to work.
First I took stock of everything I had kept up on. Let’s see, I knew who was president. I knew about American Idol and all the reality TV shows. I managed to know what an MP3 file was somehow, and….um……that was basically it. So now I made a list of all the areas I needed to get up to speed in: music, technology, sports, art, the internet and current lingo. That was a good start. WOW, that was a ton of stuff to consume!
But the hard part was still in front of me. Where was I going to get the “right” info? The rest of THE GUYS were as clueless as me. I realized I had to find the source. And then it suddenly became clear to me. The source came in the form of young people! They were up on all the current trends. They were the demographic SETTING all the trends. So my education began.
Being a teacher helped me a ton in my quest to become current. I had access to all the young minds I could ever want. I just needed to keep my trap shut so I could learn from all of them. And that’s what I did. Sure I gave my lessons, but at the end of each session, I’d ask a few open ended questions to find out about them, and what they were up to. My questions ranged from the general, “What’s going on in your life?” to the specific, “What can you tell me about…so and so?”
I was amazed at how well my inquiries were received. The simple act of asking a question immediately opened up channels that seemed so impossibly closed. What I was doing unintentionally, was acknowledging their expertise and thus leveling the playing field. What was once a monologue became a dialogue, which was so much more interesting and educational for both of us!
The long and short of all this is, over the course of a year, I slowly caught up to the present and became “current” and had a ton of fun doing it.
So I fast forward to the present.
These days, I work hard to keep current and stay curious. I attempt to listen as much as I can and learn from the young people who surround me, including my own family. And I keep the lines of communication open. That’s my best ally to avoiding the path of extinction, and my best ally to having a solid relationship with the people I care for the most.
And you know what? My kids are now including me in their fun conversations. And even better, I understand what they’re saying!
“ONE of THE GUYS”
Have you kept current? Please share your discoveries!
A special bonus. Here are some cool things that some of my younger friends are up to. Be sure to check out their talent.
War Tapes (The best Doom Pop group on the planet)
Louise Rose Designs (Cool custom jewelry and accessories)
Astonishing Tales (Intelligent, introspective and catchy)
Project Erik (Slick animation on You Tube)
Kira Jeannee (Piano music that will move you)
Titanic Piano 14 (Funky, jazzy piano that rocks)
Rock of Main St. (The coolest venue for young bands)