I have just returned from an expedition to the most interesting place I have ever traveled.
In this place, people do not talk politics. You don’t owe anyone money. There are few worries.
Care to guess?
Ecuador? NO. Australia? NO. Bali? NO.
This place is located at the very beginning and the very end of life.
Since the new year, I have spent most of my time with people who were just born (my children) or people who are closest to death (the elderly). Here’s a pic of my son, 2, and Holocaust survivor Alice, 89.
Life is very different at the very beginning and the very end of life.
After hosting a series of Drinks with Your Elders events in Phoenix, NYC, Dallas, and Houston, I have learned:
The elders need your love, and your youth, and your presence, all those things for which you hope to be appreciated.
The elders are not interested in your accomplishments, your net worth, how you look, who you know.
If you show up for an elder, and see them, and sit with them and listen, that is the most joyous moment of their day, maybe their month!
And trust me, when you make someone so happy, it is what author Norman Corwin calls “contagions of the right stuff.”
You will leave this encounter totally revitalized. If they had a spa treatment or pill that replicated this feeling, you’d be hooked!
The elders we met in these 4 cities weren’t the richest people of their time. They weren’t famous. The didn’t stand out for a TED Talk or swimming across the Atlantic Ocean in a shark cage.
But these elders told us how to live joyfully, and spread it across decades, deep into old age.
Some of them failed at business and they got back on their feet and started a new chapter.
Others endured tragedies and took time to mourn, and then they harnessed the pain as fuel on their journey to explore and savor and love as best they could.
They embraced a growth mindset, considering every mistake or failure another chance to learn something new.
To anyone out there who is fed up talkin politics and worrying about your business, and stressing about your kids…
….take a moment and spend time with your elders.
They are everywhere, all around you. And most of the time, they are lonely. Watch and listen to the above video for John Prine’s song “Hello In There.”
The words are:
“Old rivers grow wilder everyday.
Old people just grow lonesome.
Waiting for someone to say
‘Hello in there.’”
John Prine always get it right.
The elders are the missing piece to our lives, as we are to theirs.
Because at the very beginning and the very end of life, the only thing that matters is the quality of love.
Who is there for you to help with your first breath, and your last?
Who is there with you to share the most pure moment of Love and Light?
If only we can redirect a little bit of energy and time for those closest to death, we will restore everything that matters in life.