On January 14, we helped organize an event with Ryan Ventura, the Director of Community Outreach at First Light Home Care, a leading home care agency. We did this seminar at the Monroe Senior Center and what got me so enthusiastic about helping to put this on was Ryan’s topic - Legacy.
We don’t want to organize salesy presentations at Generation Bridge and we try to make sure that the content isn’t sales driven, but we recognize that some of the best content is provided by people who work day in and day out with the people we want to connect with. A lawyer may be looking for people in their market, but they are often the best ones to speak about topics like what to expect in estate planning. Ryan went beyond functional expertise and into the health of our souls. He had an amazing presentation on how we have an obligation to share our wisdom and stories as we get older and have more time…
It was a powerful presentation and I’ll be working with him to try and get this presentation done at a couple of other senior centers in the coming months. The power of his words revolves around RELATIONSHIP. He artfully walked through what relationship and duty looks like in our own families AND in our communities. It’s important to note that our Senior years are not just about retirement anymore. They are purposeful years that we can use to pass on essential history, wisdom and stories that will make sure that our society knows where It came from. "We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us."
Ryan is a gifted speaker who made us aware of the importance of hitting stories home with our youth. “Oh, you’ve heard this story before, well you’re just going to have to hear it again…this is the story behind this table, this tea cup, this picture, etc.” We all know that we are united by a common biological fact; we’re all going to die someday. Once we die, we can no longer pass on the information that we feel is important. Of Course technology can now help to preserve things (like Ancestry.com, photo sites, etc.), but it can’t fully pass on the story without our personal spin on it.
But the key barrier to this is quite simple - time and effort. Relationships at all levels require time and effort. The more time and effort we are willing to put into these relationships the stronger they will be. I was struck by one of the attendee’s story (I won't say her name but she's an amazing person). She is a former Cuban national who escaped Cuba with her husband and two children when Castro took over. She briefly told me about her experience, and her life here in the US. What an amazing experience and story she has, but I was also struck by something that gives me pause - she has a granddaughter studying things like socialism and communism at her school. Ines mentioned how she was having a conversation with her and found herself arguing against classroom “doctrine” versus experience. Fortunately her son brought things back in perspective by explaining that mother “lived through a communist transition” and “experienced” these things in REAL LIFE (i.e., assets seized, unable to leave without permission or bribes, how power corrupts, etc.). If we don’t get our stories embedded in our children and grandchildren, then we will rely on history books to do the storytelling which invariably CANNOT communicate the personal perspective that comes with lived experience.
We also know that relationships are NOT a one way street. Once we open the doors, we will find that we aren’t just teaching, but that we’re also learning! Kids can teach us soo much about new things, healthy perspectives, fearless to new experiences, etc. While our experiences provide us with wisdom that we are obligated to share (because if we don’t we will be destined to repeat mistakes), they can also shelter us from new experiences (fear, isolation, etc.), and therefore the more interaction we have across generational boundaries, the more we protect ourselves from isolationism.
He referenced the Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino as well. For those unfamiliar, it’s worth watching at some point. Clint Eastwood is a hardened widower living in a lower income community in Detroit, and he carries with him all kinds of prejudices, etc. That said, he is someone inherently impatient with being someone he isn’t, and therefore never really apologizes for his behaviors, but also finds new meaning as he connects with a young immigrant family with a male child desperately in need of a strong male role model. His interest and work with the young man helps put him on a better life path and his sacrifice helps save the life of this young man and his family. But while this is a great story, his life, behavior and personality created a strong divide within his own family- eliminating the connection with his own children and grandchildren. All of whom were worse off for not working on their own relationships. That’s a tragedy…
So how do we change this cycle? We all have worth. We all have experience. And even if we don’t have “time” we should make “time” to connect with people who need help. How could you impact the life of a young boy or girl who needs it? How could you help young professionals get their business up and running? How could you make sure that your grandmother’s recipe NEVER dies? As Ryan alluded, we all can become immortal when we take the time to teach, and also take the time to remember!
If you are interested in learning more about the Legacy presentation OR First Light Home Care, please feel free to contact Ryan Ventura at firstname.lastname@example.org.