“We don’t heal the past by dwelling there, we heal the past by living fully in the present,” to quote American author Marianne Williamson.
The first time my grandmother stepped into a plane, she was in her mid 80s. Before that, she had always taken the bus to visit her children and grandchildren in the city. However, as the years wore on, and concerned about the risks of public service vehicles, the family made a decision that air travel was best for her regular medical check-up and family visits.
I mentally prepared myself for a battle, convinced she would not like this change of means. However, when the idea was mooted to her, she was ecstatic in an almost child-like fashion, informing everyone who cared to listen.
We were at the airport to meet her when she arrived. After greeting everyone, she promptly announced that her days of taking the bus were over. “I didn’t even feel tired,” she said, marvelling at the wonder of air travel. How was it that a trip that used to take several hours could be completed in under one hour? She wanted to know.
Plus, the air hostesses were wonderful, offering her a drink and some snacks. And just like that, it was settled. For the remainder of her life, 10 years to be exact, she flew. Not only that, she happily embraced technology, speaking to us via video calls on phone.
We often go far to look for exemplary persons, but I’m thinking of my grandmother as yet another larger-than-life figure, Queen Elizabeth of England, is laid to rest. As a woman who had witnessed great changes in her life, from colonialism to independence, to seeing her granddaughters enjoy the women’s rights she did not even dream about, she took it all in her stride. She taught me many things, most importantly, to embrace the future, not run from it.
Still recovering from the effects of Covid-19 and economic instability, tomorrow is uncertain. Who can say what the future holds? How do we walk into a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over? Best of all, you don’t have to feed AI. Some careers are already obsolete, thanks to digital advancements.
There are even robotic pets, if you like, programmed as you like and don’t leave nasty, little, smelly surprises behind. The future can look a little scary, especially if you are over 30. Yet it’s not all doom and gloom. Tech has made our lives much more efficient in many respects, we can try to enjoy the benefits while minimising the downside. However, we need to shift our perspective and move courageously into the brave new world.
The past is usually a place of nostalgia. We reminisce about the good old days even though they were more of old than good. Yet the past is no place to live. As long as we still have life, there is always one more adventure waiting for us ahead. However, finding it requires letting go of the past and embracing discomfort. My grandmother lived only ten years after that flight. Yet she taught me that one is never too old to try something new.