I have recently discovered that there are hazards in traveling with younger colleagues.
Actually, it wasn’t really a discovery, more of a reminder really. During my most recent trip, I frequently realized that my movie quotes and allusions to news events both derived from things that happened before my companions were even born. They put up with me pretty well and seemed to tolerate the company better than one might expect. Of course, I suffered greatly at their insults regarding my rotary dial cell phone with its antenna sticking out the end but that’s just part of the price of roaming about the country with people who are half your age. I’ve adjusted to it pretty well which is a good thing: I don’t have a lot of choice! There just aren’t that many people my age who are interested in roaming about the country and attending professional conferences. I suspect that most of the roamers my age are in RV’s.
I do have to say that my companions did seem impressed when I started climbing up a rock column while we were waiting to get admitted into a really nice Italian restaurant. Then I realized they were probably just embarrassed. It never occurred to them that I was just desperate to stretch out a charley-horse in my calf muscle before my pacemaker quit on me. Now it occurs to me that they are probably unfamiliar with the term “charley-horse.”
Fortunately for me, we do share some key qualities that transcend age. We all believe in excellence, joy, humor, compassion and consistency. We believe that instruction should be interesting, challenging and engaging, that people should do their jobs and do them well. We believe that people who are affected by decisions ought to be considered and their input solicited in making those decisions. But perhaps the most transcendent shared quality is our faith.
After learning of some personal concerns within the group, we met in one of our hotel rooms and spent a little time in prayer. We solicited our Creator and Savior’s intervention for health and healing, for peace and wisdom, for safe travels and for blessing on those whose welfare is deeply upon our hearts. This sort of sharing draws colleagues into friendship and friends into a sense of family.
Regardless of our shared travels and mutual value systems, it is ultimately our willingness to love one another, to trust each other and to run the risk of opening up to each other that lets us elevate our relationships and our workplaces. These things bridge across our differences and disagreements and allow us to draw out and support what is excellent in each other.
It is good to share professional values and experiences, good to laugh and drink and eat together, good to see the strengths in one another and appreciate those. It is even better to share faith, love and hope. These things carry us through all testings and all time and will one day unite us in that final home.
Even if it seems likely some of us will get there forty years before the others.