The Relevancy Project
As a Baby Boomer, I have been thinking a lot about the topic of “relevancy”. In other words, how to continue to contribute and continue to do as we get older. As I observe my mother age, this issue weighs heavily on my mind. At 87, she is almost immobilized by arthritis and in a wheelchair, but her mind is active. All she wants is to continue to contribute to the world, and is frustrated and saddened that she no longer feels relevant. Is there a solution?
Mom was a powerhouse all her life. This diminutive lady was born during the Depression and came of age during WWII. She successfully raised 5 children and through an iron will and plain hard work, was instrumental in transforming a declining farm and farmhouse into a beautiful haven and a thriving business. She was always in motion, not unusual for women of “The Greatest Generation.” She still wants to improve herself, to learn and grow, but admits to becoming easily discouraged in the face of constant pain and increasing physical weakness. She asks, “why bother?” I hate to see it. Seeing her frustration has prompted me to action. When older people ask this question, “why bother?” I want there to be a really good answer, something like: “Because the world wants to know what you know.”
I look at my elders and childhood role models, many now gone, and think how very sad that all they learned and had to offer, in most cases, died with them. Why can’t there be a way for people, as they age, to formally teach and pass on what they know and have experienced, so others can benefit from the lessons they learned, both in career and in just living?
As I researched this topic, I found out about The Elder Wisdom Circle, an organization which does exactly this sort of thing. I am reading the resulting book called The Elder Wisdom Circle Guide to a Meaningful Life: Seniors Across America Offer Advice to the Next Generation.
The mechanism this organization uses for exchanging knowledge and advice keeps the elders in the stream of life and their minds working, as they call upon their many years of experience to help youngsters gain important insights as they make their own way in life. Brilliant. How could you not love this win/win scenario?
Here is a quote from one of the elders, which encapsulates the concept: “I have gained the satisfaction that comes with knowing that all the life experiences I’ve had need not be relegated to some storage box in the dusty basement of my brain. I think it must be difficult for those who have experienced sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety years of life and, although they still have their wits about them, have no practical way to share this accumulated wisdom and knowledge. This is a modern tragedy.”
I now have a direction and a vision. I am going to read everything I can on the topic of staying relevant and will let you know what I find out right here on this blog. I hope you will follow, and provide your own insight as to how we Boomers can stay relevant, as we become the elders.