In the moment when we're all trying to figure out how to survive as 20-somethings in 2016, it can seem like the oldest generation doesn't have much to offer. After all, the activities that were necessities for them are hipster hobbies for us; the everyday items from their houses are the vintage items that have started cropping up at Target; the jobs they did are now often obsolete. If we listen to them, it's only to borrow their style and pity them for the hard lives they lived.
And yet. There is something about sitting in a dim room, nursing brandy waters and wine, chatting softly around a fireplace instead of staring vacantly at a television screen. We often shy away from sharing our opinions with those older than us, assuming that their views will be archaic and stubbornly set. They can't possibly understand the way that society functions these days, how pop culture works, or why this election is so crucial.
And yet, this is severely underestimating our fellow humans. When we sit in the presence of those who look on life and the world with the confidence of age, we hear more than we can possibly expect. We hear histories of the nation we so aggressively divide, memories of relatives we have never had the privilege of meeting, reverence of the years that so swiftly come by us. We might hear how pheasant hunting was popular among the corn rows in rural areas, before farmers planted corn much closer together. We can be entranced by the idea that our grandparents went decades without meeting a person of a different race. And if we are searching for a new perspective on the presidential issues, hearing the experiences of someone who has voted in a dozen elections might be just the viewpoint we are looking for.
There are no better storytellers. We crave the knowledge of our family, of the black and white photos on the mantle - there is breathing memory in the room, just hoping that we'll ask. We deeply desire wisdom to use in our daily struggles, and beside us is a soul that has seen struggles.
Perhaps the people around this fireplace are the oldest we know, and yet, when we take a moment to listen, we find the new ideas we have always wanted.