Eat Your Prunes and Listen to Your Elders

In a generation that shows little to no reverence for their peers, the wisdom gained from the older generation is completely nullified. However, I recently rediscovered the wonders of embracing the griot-like capabilities of my elders.

On a long bus ride to the DC metropolitan, I met a 74 year old retired civil rights fashion maven with a lot to say. I was instantly drawn to her fine leather pumps, wolford tights, black wool blend skirt, plum colored boat-neck sweater, rounded plum hat, and burnt-orange silk scarf which completed the ensemble. My outfit almost paled in comparison, and you could say I was a tad bit ashamed to be upstaged by this modern day "Coco Chanel".

Nonetheless, I asked her if she was enjoying the scenery and whether she had been visiting family in New York. She told me that her travels took her to New Jersey, and she made a brief stop in Manhattan. Her depiction of the "Empire State" made my eyes light up like a child in a candy store, and my enthusiasm almost had me foaming at the mouth. She spoke of a Manhattan I had yet to see. Upon completing high school, decades ago, she moved to New York City from our nation's capital.

She came in search of the perfect career and found her place in the civil rights field. She raved about marching in D.C. and serving in Vietnam as a secretary. She told me about her niece's quest for her professional niche in this unmerciful world. After 1 year out of the New School with 2 degrees and a plethora of prior experience, she still has yet to find a job. Her words to me were "the world could be a cruel cruel place to those who knew not what they need or quite where they fit in." She enlightened me with some of the best advice I've gotten thus far this year. I almost can't wait to have my next sit down with my own grandmother and prepare to be enlightened by her pearls of wisdom. But if she says anything as good as this, then it has to be true that God must be whispering into the ears of our seasoned veterans. The moral of this story: "Don't just respect your elders, talk to them, they know much more than you give them credit for."

Alice Walker Blackpages.com

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