Invocation by Penn Kemp
Beyond Building Digital Bridges Symposium
Sponsored by Museum London
Hosted by London Creative Age Network
February 15th, 2022
Invoking “The Decade of Healthy Aging”, we applaud
elders who have so much to teach and more to learn as
we enter the digital forum for ways to connect with our
beloveds across space and time. We can do this, because
we so want to be with them by hook or by zoom, Skype
and Facetime. That yearning pulls us to learn what we
need to explore in this new realm of digital reach. How?
We watch our grandkids approach new modes, prompted
by curiosity, unafraid to fail and fail again until gleefully
they triumph. We too try and have fun trying, unabashed,
if we adopt that attitude of play, and adapt to new ways of
reaching out. Minds stretched and limber, we go beyond
building digital bridges to engage with the other side of
the screen, unknown and tantalizing with possibilities.
We bridge the gap, we continue to grow, and so by definition
young in flexibility, on novel ground, our neighbourhood
wider and us wiser. Resources abound, as we expand into
creativity, that dance between self and others, beyond age
and aging. The necessary tension of creativity is excitement:
the pull between solitude and community, between what
we’ve learnt over decades and what we continue to absorb.
I’ll end with this poem, “Believe”, written watching my granddaughter try something new. We need to create communities in which elders, like children, fly in the new directions that digital technologies offer. We believe that the power of art and culture can effect change.
In the space of a year she has learned to sit,
to stand, to walk, to totter forward in a run.
She has seen one full round of the seasons.
She wraps her family round her little finger.
Now just before dusk we stroll hand in hand
to witness the evening ritual of geese return.
Gliding along the Thames in formation, they skim
just overhead, flapping slow time in synch.
She studies their procedure, dropping my hand
to edge forward, neck outstretched, arms aero-
dynamically angled. She flaps and flaps along
the bank, following their flight, ready for that
sudden lift. Again, again, till the last goose has
flown. Dragging her heels home, disconcerted,
she braces her body against the rising breeze,
bewildered that she too can’t take off to sky
but game to try again tomorrow.