I have been reflecting on the importance of having inter-generational friendships, in relation to the type of society in which we live which is riven by a huge paradox.
Thanks to the Internet-expedited social media revolution, never in human history have we been so inter-connected at so many levels worldwide as we are now. This fact co-exists with a rising tide of human loneliness, especially amongst older people, who in terms of life experience are probably the richest members of our human community.
Today I have decided in my own small way to bridge this paradox, by using the Internet to tell a very personal story of inter-generational friendship which I hope will inspire other people to reach out and make connections in their own way across the generations.
In 2012 I decided to return to work part-time after a long career break. Since some of my work involves making recordings both of one-to-one sessions and of classes, I needed to familiarise myself with digital MP3 recordings. My trusty old tape machine was now well and truly out of date! Worse still, I felt very ‘rusty’ as far as making recordings was concerned and did not wish to inflict myself on an unsuspecting public without having had some practice. But who would I ask to be my guinea pig?
One morning – in the shower, where I always get my best ideas – I hit on the idea of asking a good friend two decades older than me whether I could make some recordings of her life history. She was born in 1928, just before the stock market crash of 1929 which ushered in the Great Depression.
One of my main interests is looking at individual human lives in relation to the Big Picture. So, getting my friend to tell her life story against the backdrop of the most turbulent, changeful century in human history seemed to me to be a wonderful project to set up for my MP3 recording initiation. But would she do it?
Of course she did! Peggy, my good friend, is always up for a new ploy. We embarked on our recording sessions in the spring of 2012. Twenty sessions and one year later, our project was complete. Peggy now has three copies of her life story, unfolding through those recordings, to give to each of her children. In typically irreverent fashion she said to me, in response to my enquiry regarding when she would be giving them out: “They can listen to them after I’ve kicked the bucket!!”
It was a privilege and an honour to do this piece of work with Peggy. To round the whole thing off, we did a concluding recording in which we reflected on the experience, what we had both gained from it (Lots!!), and how important it is for us all to make good friendships and connections throughout our whole lives.
There is plenty of irreverence and laughter in this short recording, as well as seriousness and poignancy. Peggy and I have decided to share it with you. We hope you listen, enjoy, let us have your feedback –and hopefully feel inspired to embark on something similar yourselves.
We only hope, if you do, that (as once happened to us) a bulldozer doesn’t start noisily digging up the road just outside your window as you begin your recording session!
550 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page