I leave a pair of my shoes by the door leading into my garage. My 19-month-old granddaughter has been placing her shoes beside or on top of mine since she started walking. She comes inside, takes off her shoes, and they go where, in her mind, they belong. I hardly notice anymore, but when she was recently at my house, the pile of shoes caught my attention, and I snapped this photo.
I thought of the connections between generations. What we do and who we are impacts others—in both directions. But as the older generation, we get to be more intentional about it. We must be more intentional about it.
We often reflect on “filling someone’s shoes.” I looked at the size of our shoes. My granddaughter already loves to put on bigger shoes and shuffle around. Her feet will grow fast enough, and the size of her shoes will increase, but…I don’t want her to ever fill my shoes. I’m not talking about size, of course. I want her to live her own life. I want her to fill her own shoes. My steps matter. She’s watching. I want to impact her life well. That comes from doing life well. It’s not about putting on a show when she’s around; it’s about authenticity. That’s how we do life with the generations that follow us. We live well with humility, honesty, compassion, and generosity. We listen and share. We ask questions and keep curiosity alive. We don’t expect them to fit into our shoes or even want our shoes. We leave the lines of communication open, and we learn as much as we can.
There is a lot to learn from younger generations. I obviously can’t fit in my granddaughter’s shoes. But they sure look cute and comfortable. I wouldn’t want to go back and relive all the things between her age and mine, but I look forward to what she has in front of her, and I want to help her learn and grow every step of the way. She reminds me of so many lessons I’ve experienced. She reminds me to stay curious. She reminds me the learning process is continually happening. She reminds me to enjoy the moment.
You will come in contact with people of varying ages today. Stay connected. Some of us tend to avoid the young, because we don’t think they’re capable of interacting how we want or doing what we want. But there is always a way to connect. Humble yourself and do so. Some of us tend to avoid the older, because we don’t think they’re capable of interacting how we want or doing what we want. We think they’re stuck in their ways, which shows we’re a bit stuck in our own ways. Humble yourself and connect. We might not share the exact same steps as someone else, but we can closely walk alongside others for the moments we get to be together.