The Young Lead The Way

Growing old isn’t exactly a show stopper, but somehow one doesn’t have a choice.

I’ve just been to see Dustin Hoffman’s film Quartet, about four elderly opera singers living in a retirement home for musicians. People were fiddling and blowing and singing away somewhere all day… and the music was delicious – it was just the sort of luxurious old folks home I wouldn’t mind ending up in – they even had their tea in blue and white Old Chelsea pattern china cups and saucers – which would do me.

The four main oldies in the film, in real life ranged between 78 and 70. Since I’m right in the middle of this age range, I spent a lot of time examining their wrinkles and comparing them with mine, and I have to say that my wrinkles came out on top… they obviously had all spent a lot of time in their youth lying on fashionable beaches like St Tropez … apart from Tom Courtenay who always looks so bleak I can’t imagine him having fun anywhere.

On the other hand, Maggie Smith’s elegant figure cast mine into the shade, so it’s no good gloating about my wrinkles or lack of them. At the end of the film all the extras in the home, who were actually real musicians, were named, and a photo of them when young was shown on screen, side by side with them now, sagging chins, bristling eyebrows, broken veins –  the lot. It was rather moving seeing pictures of these gorgeous young men and women, with thick shining hair and pearly teeth, looking out from their youthful photos filled with life and vigour. Their young selves were almost unrecognisable from their older selves.

On their older selves life had carved furrows in their cheeks, faded their hair, expanded their waistlines and blurred their vision. But it had also softened their faces, smoothed away the thoughtless arrogance of youth, and chiselled kindness, humanity and acceptance into their expressions.

They were all still beautiful. The funny thing is, the older I get the more beautiful everyone seems. I look at young people and think oh, you just don’t know how beautiful you are. I see the golden hairs on their arms, the rim of black lashes round blue eyes, the sweetness in an expression, the sheen on straight hair, things that when I was young I never considered valuable at all.

I look at old photographs of friends and family and think, oh I didn’t realise how beautiful you were. And hindsight of course is a wonderful thing. I look at those pictures before marriage and divorce, childbirth and illness, heartbreak and depression had begun their long slow teaching process in each life, and marvel that the human spirit survives, chastened in some cases maybe, but surprisingly chirpy in most instances.

The children of today are different to those ingenuous ones I see in old photos. For a start they are much more savvy about the things that my age group agonise over. Just as in the early days of radio, adults struggled, and the young took to it with skill and know-how, so today, even toddlers seem to be born knowing how to use things like TV remotes, computers, mobile phones and all the rest. Twenty years ago when my daughter had had a new electric system fitted at her gate, and just as she was saying the two year old won’t be able to open them now, he leaned out of her arms and his little fingers pushed the right combination and the gates opened, fifty yards down the drive.

But more than the technological instincts, many of today’s children seem to be born with inner wisdom. We used to judge intelligence on a crude system of how good children were at maths and language and general knowledge. Educationalists now recognise other forms of intelligence, which include physical intelligence, artistic and musical intelligence, and probably more important than anything else, emotional intelligence, and spiritual intelligence – which includes an empathy for animals and a concern for the planet and the environment.

I’ve heard youngsters saying things like, “no I don’t see much of so and so these days… not much E-Q .” They take it for granted that emotional intelligence is an asset in life as well as in relationships, a concept that my generation had never even thought of.

Many children today are born with these sorts of knowing, which add up to wisdom and compassion. They have an innate integrity, as well as piercing intelligence. Some people have termed this group of children Indigo children, and you can even Google them, and read about them. They don’t necessarily have an easy time in a world which is only just beginning to adjust to new ways of thinking and being, but I meet them all the time, in surprising places, like the teenage hitch-hiker I stopped for, who talked of these things until he got out again.

Many years ago a friend wrote in a card she sent me after staying with us – ‘love is the hope and salvation of the world’. She changed it to ‘children are the hope and salvation of the world’. And children born with these special kinds of intelligence, will be the ones who do change the world – what Jean Houston, visionary and teacher -called  ‘the people of the breakthrough’. Aren’t we lucky that we can be with them at the start of their journey, and fill their backpacks with love and support and understanding?

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

At this time of the year – summer for us – I love salad Nicoise. Everyone has their own theory and recipe about this classic, but I compose it the way a Frenchwoman in Hong Kong taught me over forty-five years ago. She and her husband had a classic French restaurant in Kowloon, and she also taught me yoga, which she’d learned at Sai Baba’s ashram in India.

Anyway, to return to our muttons – as the French might say – all you need for her recipe is a fresh lettuce, a tin of tuna fish, one hard boiled egg per person, cooked potatoes, tomatoes and lightly blanched French beans. The really authentic ingredient which is sometimes hard to find, is pickled walnuts. If I can’t find any, I use juicy black olives.  Slice, chop and mix whatever needs it, put it all gently together in a bowl, and toss with vinaigrette just before serving – one third good vinegar to two thirds virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper, a touch of mustard and a tasting of sugar. Crusty bread and nice wine is good with it, and Madame gave us a chocolate soufflé afterwards…  Souffle recipe another day!

Food for Thought

Folks is as happy as they decide to be.    Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865, is reputed to have said this.


Filed under cookery/recipes, culture, happiness, life and death, life/style, music, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

67 responses to “The Young Lead The Way

  1. Ah-h-h, Val! The wisdom you do share is priceless! What a pleasantness to read articles that shed hope and promise for the future. Too often we hear and read accounts of young people in trouble, making bad decisions, and paying the consequences. When we focus on their compassion knowing it was taught, nurtured and definitely learned along the way through experience, the heart is filled with joy and hopes for a better tomorrow.

    BTW Definitely must catch the movie:>)

  2. Hi Valerie. I’ve been out of commission for a couple of months and just now getting to do some catching up. I always enjoy your wit, observations and wisdom. You are right about children and technology. They seem to be born sophisticated. My 8 year old grandson was visiting over Christmas and one night instead of saying goodnight to us, he said, “goodnight old people.” How rude, I thought and then I remembered all the grey hair and wrinkles I have and how I must look to him. Glad to see you back.

  3. I have heard about the indigo children. Actually, I think quite of few of them are adults by now! About your age, I believe. You are right about looking back and seeing the progress of physical aging. A few months back, I bumped into a retired co-worker at the hairdressers. She said to me, you haven’t aged a bit. I replied that I thought she should put on her glasses. And when she did, she said….”oh!” Life moves and our response should be to keep moving too! And you, my dear friend, are one of those unique individuals who knows how to move with elegance and grace.

    • They began being born in the early nineties, and are quite distinctive… I can usually recognise them…I actually have the odd one as grand-children, and it’s interesting to feel the difference between them and the others…
      What a delicious story about your co-worker. .. I was only thinking today how depressing it is when I put on my specs when I’m cleaning the house – I see all sorts of things I didn’t know needed doing, and wish I didn’t know about!
      I love the words elegance and grace… thank you, and as they say, it takes one to know one, dear friend…

  4. I’ve observed with my own daughter, Valerie, that she has a very different feel for life than I did at her age. It has made parenting her quite the adventure for me as I’ve been forced to think and live outside the box I was brought up to inhabit. From the moment I first laid eyes on her, I saw a little being full of Light. She is immensely accepting, compassionate, and empathetic, and blows me out of the water every day with her insights and observations.

    I feel we’re living in a marvelous evolutionary era. An evolution and expansion of consciousness and understanding. I am all agog to see what comes next! xoxoM

    • Aren’t these children wonderful!!!!
      I’ve seen tiny toddlers in the supermarket, and recognise them straight away… and they recognise us too….
      I always send them a silent message of understanding, as their lives are sometimes tough….if they don’t have parents like you…

  5. This was poignant for me on several levels.

    1. My folks are in a nursing home because of their health.
    2. My uncle is living with my sister because she can manage his health.
    3. My uncle worked with both Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Smith. Oh, and many other famous directors, playwrights, and actors.
    4. I have wrinkles and my husband still thinks I am beautiful.
    4. I’m seeing that movie pronto.

  6. Anonymous

    As usual I m warmed by your words and I to look at young ones today with such admiration at their fresh beauty , it is such a shame we don’t recognize it in ourselves until that time has well passed by.

  7. I have one of those children, she’s now 20. She was, and is still is, just always in tune with everyone and everything around her and yet there is an almost imperceptible distance between her and other people, almost as if she views others with compassion but a little sympathy. As a child just starting school her peers would come up with a variety of ways just to get her attention and mostly she didn’t notice. It wasn’t that she didn’t like them, she did very much, but she didn’t need them – or anyone else for that matter. She has always given the impression of one perfectly comfortable in her own skin who does not need the reassurance of others.
    And as for getting old, my mother years ago ran a mobile shop to care homes and always said on every residents’ door there should be a photo of them in their 20s or 30s :)
    Lovely, lovely post Valerie

    • Dear Dory – thank you so much. Interesting about your daughter… she’s just the age when these children started arriving… they are treasures aren’t they…and so interesting to see what they will do, and where they will go…

  8. Young or old or in between, there’s optimism in it all. I must tell my Uncle that you noticed and admired the Chelsea patterned tea cups in the film, he was the Production Designer for Quartet and I’m working on a project with him, so often hear about what goes on in the making, so much effort goes into the authenticity of the sets and for that reason I often have to watch his films twice, because I’m too busy noticing the details the first time around.

    Here, here to children being the hope and salvation and that we can help to love, encourage and be understanding of them!

  9. How fascinating about your uncle, Claire… they were also drinking out of willow pattern too.. I noticed that Billy Connolly had willlow pattern..
    I know what you mean about the details in films, that’s what I love, and that’s one reason why I watched The Welldiggers Daughter four times!
    Maggie Smith’s scarves were exquisite in Quartet, and as for Michael Gambon’s caftan’s and embroidered pill-boxes… I assumed that the gorgeous silk one he chose in the first scene was Japanese kimono silk???
    I expect your uncle would know!!!

  10. I am so glad that you returned to the blogosphere. I so enjoy your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts! In my mid-60’s, I’m confronting age head on these days, with all the emotional and physical challenges that come with it. Most surprising to me as I age is perspective …. as you mentioned when comparing yourself to the actors in the film. Looking at old photos of my grandmothers, who were VERY old in my youthful eyes, I now realize were far YOUNGER than I am now, when I felt they were ancient. Oh my.

    • Yes, isn’t it interesting how old our grandmothers became so quickly. My first memories of my grandmother was when she was 52, and she was an old lady then, grey hair, dark clothes, and she lived as an old lady for over 30 years! I do think we are younger than that generation no matter how any years we’ve notched up! Thank you for your lovely encouraging comments… I always read your blog, though I don’t always understand it, but it keeps me up to date!

  11. Valerie, you delight provoke, inspire..Your words float so gently and entrance me so, that I find myself re-reading sentences for the pleasure of it. In my other life, I used to speak on the topic of E.Q. – to some very skeptical audiences (who begrudgingly recognized its power in life, despite their underdeveloped attributes in this regard). I have read about Indigo children and believe that there have been such remarkable children within each generation – we are just getting smart enough to value their talents differently. Sorry for the long-winded response. I loved this post..Have a lovely new year..

    • Mimi, what a lovely, lovely response from you, thank you so much for your beautiful words, I so value them… How interesting that you used to talk about E-Q – you obviously know a lot more than I do about this subject.. would you think of writing about it? It would be fascinating… So good to hear from you, and a very happy new year on your karma truck!… I visualise it like one of those gorgeous travelling homes, wood, with stained glass windows, and herbs growing in tiny window boxes…

      • I love the visual…if it were a real truck, I definitely would have to have flowers and herbs growing in window boxes…
        Actually an author with the last name of Goleman is the one who brought EQ to the forefront. His first book on the subject is fantastic…

      • I know who you mean… I’ve seen the book advertised… I’ll Google – thank you..

  12. I loved the tone of your article–mellow and wise, saying so many important things. But what I found so refreshingly different is that so many older people consider the younger generation as just clever (say, at using technology) and yet lacking in the more enduring qualities such as wisdom. You do no such thing. Yes, when we look at old photos, we feel like we did not value the things we had then. But no matter how old we are, we still have things right the moment we might be looking at those photographs that we might not be valuing then but might value five years down the line! Thanks for a lovely article.

    • Great to hear from you – I always enjoy your thoughtful articles, and so glad you enjoyed my blog on youth and age! In the end it all boils down to perspective, doesn’t it… maybe the one thing that aging gives one is a longer perspective… have a happy new year, and lots more Bottleworder thoughts!

  13. So true Valerie. Children are indeed born “old souls”. They have different (and better) values than we had. I am a baby Boomer… I share your sentiments on aging and how beautiful today’s young are! Lovely post.

    • Thank you Tersia, good to hear from you… glad you enjoyed the post… the one thing we have going for us when we haven’t got youth is a longer perspective, don’t you think!!!

  14. Amy

    Hi Valerie, So glad you are back! The post is filled with widsom. It’s comforting to think that “Aren’t we lucky that we can be with them at the start of their journey, and fill their backpacks with love and support and understanding?” Coincidently, a blog that I visit regularly has a post about her birthday…

  15. Thank you for this beautiful article and for acknowledging the so called Indigo Children!
    (Some of us actually came already in earlier generations but during the late 80’s and start 90’s bigger groups of “Indigo Souls” came in.)

    • Hello Stephanie, So glad you liked the post, thank you… yes, I feel you and the other children will change the world… have you come across the latest wave of crystal children? Always so good to hear from you….

      • Hi Valerie!

        I am meeting the “so called” Crystal Children when I’m out and about. It seems that nearly every younger child I encounter (at shopping, at the bus, etc.) came in with this energy and it is always joyful to cross paths. We rarely need words to understand each other and it always seems to be a gift of exchanging what we can learn from and teach each other – although, I cannot always put it in words.

        Thank you, again, for sharing your post – it really feels great to read your words and we need people who are willing to build bridges so that the energies can meet. (Hope that makes sense.)

      • Thank you, dear Stephanie….

  16. A great story. I always enjoy reading what you write.

  17. Hi there, I just wanted to let you know I nominated you for the Kreative Blogger Award. If you are interested click here

  18. How nice that you’ve made a return to blogging. Yours is a voice that I always enjoy listening too. I enjoyed your review, and I especially liked your thought that, the older you get the more beautiful everyone seems. I feel the same way! Also, I adore Maggie Smith, and finally started following “Downton Abbey,” because hers was a featured character.

    Take care, and Happy New Year to you!

    • Hello Elisa, lovely to hear from you, and thank you for your welcome… it is so good to be back in the blogging world! Yes Maggie Smith is something isn’t she… though Judy Dench just edges past her in the must-see stakes for me… !!! And a happy hew year to you….

  19. I think you are a bit of an Indigo Child yourself Valerie!

  20. As always Valerie your tone is peaceful and joyful at once, it is like following the ripples of a skipped stone across the pond. The phenomenon of the Indigo Children has been talked about, expanded upon even since the 1970’s I think we need to explain why our young are so much wiser than we were, so different from us at their age. I was different, my parents the courts and even the child physiologist simply deemed me a delinquent and moved on.

    I love your salad! One question, are the French Beans blanched?

    • Hello Val, thank you for your understanding comments…
      re the salad – yes, the beans are blanched, but I forgot to list one hard boiled egg per person! I’ve corrected the recipe now, and will put in a note next time I blog… even Homer nodded!!!!

  21. Now Crystal Child is starting to show up…thoughtful and silent, next to the Indigo child’s energy…we are all born into ‘time’ at our perfect place. I love this post, Valerie! You posts are always outstanding and very thought provoking!


    • So you’re onto the the Crystal children, Linda… they’re something aren’t they… the times are so exciting to see where the human spirit is going….
      I love your comment that ‘we are all born into ‘time’ at our perfect place’…. beautiful
      Thank you for your encouragement… it’s so good to know that my little hobby horses are interesting to others…

      • And if my memory serves me right, following the Crystal children are the rainbow children. Even as the world seems to be falling apart, spiritually we are evolving, although it is hard to see.


  22. I did enjoy that post! I, too, look at beautiful young people with awe. I loved teaching teenagers and sometimes met the ones you speak of, with something very special about them. We started teaching about EQ 10 or 12 years ago and children seemed to implicitly understand whereas some of the ‘old school’ (Old not necessarily in age but in attitude) found the idea impossible to grasp. Their EQ was not very high!

    One of our twins had/has this specialness. I remember when he was only 18months and a very poorly baby, we took him to see Mr S’s Aunt who was also very ill. He sensed something, toddled over to her and spent the afternoon on her knee. The scene touched us all. The other three children just got on with their afternoon as they do!

    I’m so glad you are back writing here. I always read with such pleasure. :)

    Lovely salad! :)

    • Lovely to hear from you Sally… interesting that you could see the difference in your twins… one of my grand-children at 18 months used to totter up to children in their pushchairs and kiss them…and even wanted to do it to dogs at face level!!!
      Do you still feel the difference?
      re the salad – I left out a hard boiled egg per person, so have corrected it, and will be putting a note in on my next blog….as I said to Val, even Homer nods!!!!

      • It was lovely to read of your knowledge of these children, Our two are still different but they are very close to each other still although miles apart – he in Barcelona and his twin sister in Chilla in Devon.

        I had wondered about the eggs but thought that was just your version! :)

  23. this was a very good read, though seeing the modern children so isolated from each other, staring into their devices – actually worries me a lot. I have teenagers in the house now and they don’t even have their friends phone numbers, it is all face book now. When we were kids you could not get near the phone! Someone was always on it. But as i travelled through NZ i discovered many kids who were reading books in the holidays so that was lovely. . have a great summers day! c

    • I don’t know whether facebook has quite such a hold here… my four grand children between 17 and 21 all use texting to contact their friends, but they spend a lot more time doing things with each other than texting… and the very aware ones won’t even have a facebook page! So there’s hope! We seem to be having the wild winds that are fanning the Aussie flames, alas on both counts, but the skies are clear, and the sun is shining…. Your snowy scenes are beautiful… even on the dull days!

      • NZ kids do get out.. and it is interesting the difference in teenagers -american kids are very different… even from english kids.. cultural I suppose but worrying. The isolationism of american politics is in the kitchens of their children. They truly believe that no-one likes them. That the world does not like america. I tell them that actually the world is pretty busy looking after itself.. not to worry.. but still they feel the need to bite, duck and hide. Interesting. Take care now, i hope all you get is the wind, that aussie heat sounds dreadful. .. c

  24. A thoughtful and Emotionally Intelligent piece. With a recipe too boot!

  25. loved to read this posts and all the nice comments….

  26. Thanks for the insight into children today. I see so much negativity to the upcoming generation, but I too see many good things and great potential. It’s great when a movie sets the mind reminiscing.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, – much appreciated… I often think the children who attract negative comments are children who in some way haven’t been appropriately parented…

  27. Wonderful. I have to admit to complaining sometimes about Gen Y… but I’ve been sensing lately a shift in the youthful vibe. And a feel of hope about the future. Maybe its my sentimental side speaking, but I like to think otherwise.

  28. Thanks for the review, and your insightful commentary.

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