To all my friends who are also members of the Millennials Generation, with affection:
I’m not quite old enough to be your grandfather, but I am older than most of your parents. I’ve had a few successes in life and a great many failures. Like the Farmers Insurance tag line says, “I know a few things because I’ve seen a few things.” I’ve seen some things you’ve not yet seen, and I’ve been through some things you’ve not yet experienced. Those are the facts.
Please believe me when I say I am all for learning through experience, and I know that our most profound learning often comes through the most painful experience. Even if I could, I would not want to take that opportunity away from you. You’ll be better for it, trust me.
At the same time, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are some lessons you can learn vicariously through my life and experience and that of others of my generation. I’m not prepared to make a list of examples, but the wise ones among you will figure that out as you and I walk and talk and live and laugh and cry together.
This aspect of our relationship could be especially helpful in the matter of religious faith and our life together in the faith community (or church, if you will). I can help you avoid some pitfalls there, since I’ve fallen into most every pit you can imagine.
Let me be clear. I like you, and I respect you. I find your no-nonsense approach to life refreshing, and I appreciate your emphasis on authenticity and your low tolerance for bullshit.
Yes, you can be a bit bristly by times, especially toward those less tolerant and accepting than you. But even then, your point of view is, for the most part, correct. And at those times when your attitude can be counterproductive, I can help you with that.
I can help to bridge the gap between you and other oldsters. I can help to enhance your credibility with your elders, and, even though they (we) are soon passing off the scene, it can’t hurt to assume your mantle of leadership and responsibility with their blessing.
The last thing I want to do is impede your progress. I want to enrich your journey, not stand in your way. I want to make my experience—and whatever wisdom has come along with it—available to you without either insisting that you take it or feeling slighted if you don’t.
Truth be told, I actually need you at least as much as you need me. I can help keep you grounded. You can help keep me young—at least in my thinking. I don’t want to mess up the mutual benefit thing we have going. I’m here if you need me. Just remember that you might need me a little more, and a little more often, than you think you do.
Bottom line: Many of you have embraced some presuppositions and developed a set of values because you were fortunate enough to be born when and where you were. We graybeards were not so fortunate, but by way of trial and error (a lot of error) and with a willingness to change, some of us eventually arrived at the place where you have been for most of your lives.
I don’t want to do all, or even most, of the driving anymore. I’m pretty much content to sit over here in the passenger seat and read from my Kindle. If you have any questions or concerns about what you’re seeing or experiencing as we travel the road together—for as long as we have that opportunity—feel free to ask me about it. I’ve probably seen it all—or most of it—before.