It is a question that can be heard in discussions floating around retirement communities like the one I am currently at as I try to act my age and fade off into the sunset.
I have also been hanging around the University of Calgary lately and believe me, things have changed since 1978 when I graduated. Firstly, the students look far too young to even be there, based on my skewed elderly perspective. Is my perception that in between classes, studying, exams, and socializing, these perky post-pubescent people are busy trying to change the world. They gather in groups, engage in weekend competitions and think beyond themselves. They throw ideas and solutions around like frisbees in a windstorm in an attempt to generate new possibilities. They volunteer and contribute to a society they realize has given them so much but which desperately needs their help. In varying degrees, they have survived a society that their ancestors have created. They are what we have encouraged and allowed them to be within the constraints of their environment. As a whole these ‘kids’ are neither universally gifted or flawed but are merely part of the continuum of change. Every generation needs to invoke new ideas and behaviors and I believe the current generation is up to the task. Maybe the question that needs to be asked is ‘What is wrong with adults these days?’ If we could put our egos aside and quit blindly defending the obvious failures that exist in our society, we could become part of the solution and partner up with our children and grandchildren to create new and better possibilities.
I began observing and complaining about society roughly forty years ago, about the time I began paying my share of the taxes. Up until then, I mostly thought about myself. For the next thirty years, my focus switched to my family and how to provide for them. That is what I was conditioned to do. My parents had to work twice as hard just to put food on our table. My life, in comparison to theirs, has been relatively easy, even if it didn’t seem to be. By the end of a work week, I was exhausted but willing and able to insert myself into the lives of our children, probably in part because that was a luxury my father never had. Now, with my children incredibly self-sufficient and my career long gone, I have time to think about and do things beyond myself and my family. Thankfully, I have a wonderful life that fulfills my personal wants and needs which allows me to finally, after decades of focussing inward, see what I can affect beyond the scope of my personal life. I now have the opportunity to emulate others who have spent portions of their lives contributing to the betterment of the world around them.
This brings me back to the University of Calgary. I just received my confirmation of acceptance to begin Open Studies at the U of C on May 6th, 2019. I am registered to take an introductory course from the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The professor is working on her Doctorate of Philosophy. I am almost as apprehensive now as I was the first time I attended classes there but that will pass as my excitement builds. My first university experience was based on the single focus of getting a degree that would lead to a career and support my family. This time around, I am going to have fun, learn, participate, and create possibilities that will change my world and hopefully contribute to positive societal change.
It seems fitting that the U of C sports teams are called the Dinos and Dinnies because in a month from now there is going to be a new dinosaur on campus. ROAR!