Find a way to renew a human relationship this holiday season
In my last word before a break for the holidays you were going to get a few words of nonsense about my dog, but then I received the following comment in an e-mail from my 87-year-old dad.
“I think that when we come into the world, whatever our circumstances, there is one significant mark in human consciousness which makes us what we are – the idea of beyond.
“The key is the word beyond.
“No matter where we are, we believe there is somewhere else; put another way there is both of here and of there. This is also true of time: there is a time now, and a time then.
“The point is, we don't need someone to tell us this; instinctively we know it. There is also something experienced, and the something else that could be experienced – this is what makes us human; we always feel that.
“And finally, to extend this to a more significant realm, we believe there is a now and a future, a life, and a death, and we believe easily that there's something beyond that.
“The point is not whether this is true or not, but that this set of mind is what makes us what we are.”
From my perspective, there are so many remarkable things about this spontaneous offering I hardly know where to start.
Separated by distance and circumstance, until the advent of Covid my father had been but a voice on the phone that I seldom managed to see face to face more than once in a year. Our relationship was cordial but it’s fair to say that neither of us really knew how the other really got on.
He did own a computer and had learnt how to “Google” but previous attempts to introduce him to e-mail had met with an understandable degree of reluctance given his age.
And then the lockdown came and everything stopped – his weekly activities, his outings, his visits from relatives (as you would expect), and with it his reluctance to embrace technology to the fullest.
It took some doing initially, but he now has an e-mail account which he accesses without assistance and clicks on the Zoom meeting link which I send him to join a virtual family get together each weekend. He is even learning to compose and send e-mails like the above, which are so good it would be selfish of me not to share them now and again.
Upon hearing that he was going to be alone on Thanksgiving for the first time ever, I suggested that we have dinner together on Zoom and he eagerly accepted.
The event went so well that, even though we live 2,000 miles apart, we now have dinner together every week (something we have not done since I was 21) and we have real conversations about everything under the sun.
In my new normal, much to my utter delight and amazement, at this advanced point in both our lives my father and I are no longer polite strangers – we are friends who are making the most of the lot that life has dealt us, sharing ideas and insights and teaching each other new things.
And my wish for you this holiday season is that you also find a way to renew a human relationship and explore it to the fullest because two things are certain – there is a now, and there is a future.
In the new normal we may not know what lies beyond, but we do have an opportunity now to count our blessings and make the most of our time together.
Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/olderhoodgroup1/ or firstname.lastname@example.org