This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
We all absorb media. You’re doing it now. The vast majority are sponges who soak it up and give nothing back. But have you ever wondered how you turn a sponge into a deliverer? I’m a big believer in giving back.
We are all unique. No-one else has been through what you have and therefore knows what you do. Only you have lived your life and, as the decades pass, you amass the most amazing knowledge and experience no-one else has. Why not share it?
When John my ex-father-in-law died, I was very sad for lots of reasons, chief amongst them being he took with him the most amazing amount of knowledge about making and repairing things. I remember standing in his shed in awe.
My father loved facts. He loved leaving the most difficult crossword clues for me. In retirement he was in demand for his talks on astronomy, Stonehenge and particularly Lord Nelson.
My grand-daughter Emila-Rose was christened on Sunday 8th September at a church in Norfolk. She’ll be one year old in November. As I recently scattered some of my father’s ashes under a tree in the village of Burnham Thorpe where that county’s most famous son was born, I had a thought.
At aged one Emila has no idea who I am, except I hold her and we make silly noises at each other. By the time she’s cognisant of who I really am there is a possibility I might not be here. So things I give her in childhood might explain.
That was in my head when I went looking for a couple of presents for both occasions today to do that. I wanted to find things she would remember me by.
I love literature. The written word. How should I communicate that and visualise both decency and taking care of others. There could be only one author: A.A.Milne.
I found a Winnie The Pooh boxed bowl, cup and spoon. I always loved Alan Bennett reading the stories of the bear with very little brain. I don’t take much persuasion to play pooh-sticks over a bridge.
The second was a name sign for her bedroom door. A princess outside her castle. When you’re new to the world and there are other people in your house, it’s good to know you have a designated place of your own. My bedroom was very important to me.
So in our older years, it’s important we take time to share what we’ve learned. Not just the complicated and difficult things but the simple pleasures which often get overlooked.
Getting up early and smelling the air of a new day. Helping. Stroking someone else’s dog. Saying thank-you. Lying on your back in a field and watching clouds. Being there. Picking up litter. Saying sorry. Baking and giving it away. You know this.
I’m very pleased to report my daughter Charlotte knows this too. She visits her Nannie Molly’s house and cleans for her. Molly has recently been in hospital for a hip replacement and living alone can no longer manage to keep things ship-shape. So she feels better and they have cup of tea together.
Last Friday Charlotte also came to help clean my brother’s farmhouse which has finally been sold. She spent hours on her hands and knees scrubbing skirting boards with two youngsters in tow. She is beautiful, amazing and personifies what being family means. I’m so proud of her.
The point of all this is I’m not sure if you or I are doing enough to give back what we have earned or learned.
At our age and in our position, we’ve the ability to make a real difference to the lives of others. I’m not suggesting giving away your clothes and shoes to charity. I’m talking about you.
Think about what you’ve learned in life. How that knowledge could be useful to the next generation.
Could you show someone how to look after a garden plant or vegetable? Have you sold a house? What does it take to do that? Could you show someone how to darn a sock or replace a button? How do you thread a needle, learn to drive a car or paint a fence? Can you whip up a soufflé or a roast dinner? I bet you can.
You probably know how to do all these things and a great deal more. But have you taken the time to pass that knowledge on?
I suspect not. You’d be amazed what people do NOT know.
I’m putting my savings into income and premium bonds. At least they’re safe, the return is reasonable and accessible. Lots of people have never heard of them. Or the stock market. Or ISA’s, credit ratings or PPI. Nothing. Diddly squat. You will probably have your own way of dealing with money born out of fortune or failure along the way. Have you shared that?
We learn in two ways. By experience or by people telling us things. Simple as that. If the people you tell things to don’t listen they’ll learn the hard way. So don’t be afraid to share what you know. The impetuousness of youth will mop up the rest.
I’m about 16 months away from full retirement. I’ll have to survive for about another year after that before the state pension kicks in. If my calculations are correct I’ll manage until then. I’m told gold is a good bet in times of trouble.
What we invest in is up to us. What I’m suggesting is you invest in people and not only your family. Get out there and share what you’ve learned. All the things you’ve been shown by your parents and friends and what you know from life – as amazingly what you know others don’t.
You can’t take it with you. Pass it on.
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