dear madam or sir

there is a free newspaper available on buses. it is sensationalist and often grim, but there was a small article recently that caught my eye. i read of the results of a study comparing skills that those of us over 55 had mastered more fully than those younger. one of those skills is writing a formal letter, headed and dated properly. a few others included tying shoes, managing money, sewing buttons, spelling and grammar, wiring a plug, and maths without a calculator.


ahh, the wonders of velcro, spellcheck, debit cards, pre-wired plugs, kettles that switch off and dishwashers. they can make our lives easier…sometimes…and, along with them, i’m incredibly grateful for hot and cold running water.


of that list, the one that causes me the most concern is the tying of shoes. this may seem totally inconsequential compared with managing money. my concern is about brain development. the simple act of tying shoes creates a remarkable number of neural pathways responsible for future learning. people who can’t tie their shoes will be making decisions about me in the near future! that’s scarey!

these women and men will be making laws that will effect me over the next decades. and a skill that used to be mastered at age four is now being delayed until nine or ten. their fine motor skills, visual motor skills, attention span along with patience and memory are being delayed as well.

while i’m not volunteering to teach four-year olds to tie their shoes, i am available to hold the space of wisdom for the future. how do we, as elders, influence the future? where can we influence the hearts and minds of those younger than we are? how can we step into a larger arena, where our voices are heard and respected?

we can do this every day, in every encounter, in every vote we cast, in every purchase we make and in every authentic conversation. we have the ability to effect change in a way that promotes respect for ourselves as elders and for those who are younger.

it begins with self-respect…and tying shoes.