Knowledge Plus Time

Knowledge Plus Time

By Robin Bush, ISR Communications

What would you wish for if you had only one wish? That’s a great question to ask someone, especially someone older.  It’s a provocative question that often stimulates memories of something they had that they lost, like a person or the ability to pursue a hobby. They might talk about something they never got to do or a place they always wanted to see. 

You can also ask questions like what was the best invention in your lifetime or what life was like for you in the 60’s – that often brings a smile of recalled adventures you might never have heard about. You might ask who their most influential teacher was or what it was like being a teenager in 19__.  

Asking questions prevents “elder speaking,” which is overly simplified speech used when someone talks to an older person as if they were a toddler.  If you ask the right questions, you might hear about their first television, how they played kickball in the empty city lot behind their apartment building, or when their dad brought home a puppy.

Questions are springboards for unexpected conversations.  I recently read about a grandson who asked his grandmother what she thought was the secret of being successful as we age, and her answer was simple. “Just try,” she replied. Try walking, cooking, gardening, swimming, or anything else.  The wisdom she had gained through 93 years of life was simple — trying is what keeps us young. He would never have gained from her wisdom had he not asked the right questions.

It’s said by some that wisdom is knowledge plus time. Knowledge is gained from learning facts and information.  Wisdom comes from cumulative experiences and learning from them. Someone may teach you, which has great value, and they may share their wisdom, which is a connection to their lived experience.  Both are gifts.  Don’t miss the opportunity to ask others to share their wisdom.