“Grandpa what are ya doing under there, sleeping?” I asked my grandfather as he was lying under the broken piece of machinery. He replied that he wasn’t sleeping but that he was thinking about the baler, our machine for packaging the alfalfa into ton sized bales.
I slowly crawled underneath with him. The stiff, prickly stubble of the alfalfa stabbed me in the back as I lay down next to him. The hot dry air of July swept underneath the baler, carrying the menacing dust with it. My face was already brown from the day’s work, so it didn’t bother me much. “How long do you think it will be until my dad gets back with the part to fix it?” My patience at a young age was short. “I don’t know,” he replied.
As I lay there looking up into the complex workings of the baler, I couldn’t help but wonder what that old mind of my grandpa was thinking. After many minutes of silence my grandfather said something that changed the way I looked at him for the rest of my life, and how I viewed those who have many years of experience.
I have learned many lessons over the years from my father and grandfather. It was at this time, however, that his simple statement taught me one of the greatest lessons of my life. In a thought-filled, yet hushed voice he stated, “They have changed so much over the years. I can still remember when they came out with the first baler.” I listened to my grandpa as he talked of the first baler, and the problems that they had with it. He and his brothers thought it was the best thing that had been invented. He then spoke of all the changes and the complexities that then followed in the years since that time.
In that moment I realized that with experience comes wisdom. I came to understand that there was a lot to be learned by listening to my seniors. Many times growing up, as most children and teenagers do, I thought I was quite wise. I had learned this great lesson though, that there is always someone who knows more, who knows of a better way. It was because of this lesson that I have been able to learn from all around me. Thus, I believe that if we will learn to respect our elders and our peers, we will then be able to share in their wisdom. This will allow us to stand upon their mistakes and progress further, rather than falling into the same pit holes that they were subject to.