This statement struck me with enough power to make me stop reading. Why? I can only use more words.
I am in my 83rd year on earth. I am old, but I have been young. In the last few decades I have learned that an old person cannot teach a younger person except, possibly, by example—assuming the younger one is actively watching at all.
I certainly do learn, or rather re-learn, by watching even the youngest of us, currently my wife’s first grandchild. By observing him I am reminded of the vital forces contained in everyone; it is invigorating to engage with a new, whole, completely unrestrained human being who happens to be much smaller and temporarily physically dependent.
But this palaver delays my expressing the immediate perception I had upon reading the phrase: yes, we are in separate kingdoms, each with its desires and objectives.
Those younger than I cannot know what I have learned and value, if they have not yet had similar experiences. Memo to self: avoid negative feelings if the young are inattentive, even dismissive of my offerings. Corollary: don’t offer unless asked.
Conversely, I know what it is to be young, if I have not allowed myself to forget, and, therefore, should be understanding and, if necessary, forgiving, even generous. My father had a saying which I heard often: “youth will be served.”
In the event that younger people may have read this far, I offer more words, to show an important aspect of being old. This is from another novel, “Death Comes to the Archbishop, by Willa Cather:”
Sometimes, when Magdalena or Bernard came in and asked him a question, it took him several seconds to bring himself back to the present. He could see they thought his mind was failing; but it was only extraordinarily active in some other part of the great picture of his life–some part of which they knew nothing.