I'm fortunate to work at a University which has one of the largest if not the largest alumni base in the country. Apparently Wednesday is the day that these not so recent graduates return to campus to get together for coffee and to reminisce about the good old days.
I often am behind them in line at my favorite coffee shop on campus and this past Wednesday, learned a valuable lesson. As I waited in line, I watched the people in front of me: an elderly gentleman, bent over, white hair shuffling to the counter wearing the college colors from head to toe. In front of him were two old ladies, also white haired and also shuffling around-one with a walker- and also dressed head to toe in the college colors. I was thinking to myself how wonderful it was for these old people to have some way to reconnect with their college pasts. I was thinking of these people, these past college graduates in terms of their age and indicators of age. Not as a former teacher or engineer or physician and certainly not thinking of them as former cheerleaders, basketball players, or students. I was thinking that they were old. Period. That is how I identified them.
How sad. Because . . . . I was watching them, I heard the old man call to the old ladies, "hey, do you girls need any help?" And it occurred to me, that this man likely did not think of himself as an old man. He was just a guy and his lady friends who were around his age (I'm assuming) were just girls. And how wrong I was for thinking of these people, these fellow graduates, these fellow previous students, in terms of age! Now I know that the new students think of me as old. And someone in their 60s or 70s may think of me as young. So who is right? I feel, well, I don't know. I don't feel 'an age'. I don't want to be thought of as a 40 something. So what right do I have, to think of anyone else in terms of their age.
So I've decided that one of things I'm doing for myself is to start thinking of people as people and to not take it upon myself to place anyone in a category just because they are a certain age. Or race. Or gender.
We all are~regardless where we are in life's journey~just humans.