A vision I have for my work with our elders is to create and share their personal life legacies. To help others with a similar vision birth a society in which the wisdom of elders is honored and taken to heart when individuals, organizations, and nations are faced with making important life decisions.
In my lifetime of over 76 years, I believe the wisdom of our elders has been under considered, much less taken seriously in making decisions affecting our nation and organizations. And especially the wisdom of grandmas has largely been ignored.
I wonder how different life of many youth today would be if grandmothers and grandfathers could share their life lessons. Would their values be different?
And I wonder how different our country would be if our leaders (and followers) considered the wisdom of our grandparents in governing our nation. Somehow, I can’t imagine that we would be fighting yet another war (especially “on terror”) in which leaders have once again sent “young” men (and more women than ever before) to die “to protect our way of life” or “to spread democracy” around the world.
Sometimes, what matters, as one grows older, isn’t what one has but what one gives up. As we age, our memories of whom we were and what we have achieved informs us who we are now. But our day to day lives, our identity of the present moment, also moves along and changes with the years.
We no longer are who we were. We no longer have the youthfulness, the vigor we once had. We have lost old loves, passions and friends. As we age, we become more and more estranged and lost from our old self and our old, comfortable loves and fears of our past. We need to pay more attention to this passing of the old and must begin to learn how to welcome and integrate ourselves into our changing lives.
I’ll be the first to say that it’s mind-boggling to realize we are losing who we were and what we have accomplished, that we can even lose those sad, bad memories, which previously continued to haunt us. And now, in our later years, we have a new opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to create new passions and desires; and most important, we can find new friends, do new work, and spend more time in sharing with others in our new, emerging later lives.
Now is the time to learn how to give from our present, older, and hopefully, wiser, hearts and souls. We are who we are now, at this moment, new persons who have the priceless opportunity not to die unhappily, dwelling in our past, but to begin again in this new age with new prospects. We need only to have the courage and acquired wisdom to grasp and squeeze every drop of joy, satisfaction, and yes, gratitude, with the last bits of energy and compassion we still have left in us.
What I am telling us is that this is our new, probably greatest opportunity. Look around. What needs to be done? Who around us needs our help, our companionship, our comfort, right now? What can still make you happy, a little more content; what can make you feel like you are accomplishing something that will make a difference to the ones you love, your friends, the homeless, the needy on your block or in your town?
People and causes need us. We have a new opportunity to change our life, change someone else’s life, the opportunity to let go of those old unhappy memories and create new memories for the new you who is still alive and still has the energy and the will to do something new, maybe even revolutionary.
Let’s get going! Let’s let go of those old, faded memories and find some new ones to take their place!
Some brief statements I have recorded from those whom I’ve helped write their Living Legacy Letters:
1. Make the most of every experience.
2. Don’t obsess over right and wrong decisions.
3. Stop defending my self-image.
4. Go beyond risks.
5. Make no decision when in doubt.
6. See the possibilities in whatever happens.
7. Find the stream of joy.
If you, or you know someone who has thought about sharing his or her life story, you can reach me at the following email address: email@example.com.