Most will find from our monthly newsletters that I tend to look at life through my years as a youth. It was a special time when you could savor the simple things life had to offer and take those exciting moments and defeats a bit more in stride. Of course we didn’t have families to support, financial responsibilities to meet, and those never-ending deadlines that collectively seemed to have stolen those precious moments of reflection and appreciation from our lives. We just savored the simple pleasures of life, oftentimes taking them for granted. I always considered myself a “summer kid,” as my fondest recollections revolved around summers spent outdoors at our home on Shelter Island, New York.
After what seemed like an eternity being confined indoors due to harsh winter weather, I couldn’t wait for spring to arrive with the awakening of its colorful plants and trees signaling summer was just around the corner. It was like watching a black and white picture come to life with color and air that smelled so fresh and clean. Once again we were outdoors looking forward to endless hours of bike riding, the start of the little league season, and a host of other outdoor activities along with those special holidays of Mother’s Day and Easter.
This year we are experiencing a different kind of spring, and one not so different in some ways from those I experienced as a child. While we are starting to “awaken” from the “confinement” we’ve experienced over the past few months and resume our “physical” connection with friends, I think we are doing it with a greater appreciation for our home life, our families and the friends who make our lives so special.
During these past few months, I’ve seen couples taking walks hand in hand, families bicycling and kayaking together, neighbors celebrating cocktail hour on the quiet streets in which they live, and with joyful amazement, I watched a group of couples from the condos across the water from our home dancing on the lawn and docks to songs from years gone by. There is no doubt in my mind, while we are experiencing a very different chapter in our lives; our inherent desire to be socially connected and enjoy the simple pleasures life affords us has not changed.
While we are adjusting to our new way of life in how we live, work and play, I find myself saying “History has a way of repeating itself,” and I’m not going to squander the lessons learned from this reset. I am going to savor my times with friends and family, along with the blessings I received, with a renewed appreciation long after the challenges we currently face have passed. I also feel our community will be the beneficiary of this renewed personal connection with each other. I sense more of a community spirit as we look to support those local businesses fighting to stay alive while doing their best to serve the community. Like many I speak to, there is a pent up desire for people to embrace their communities and each other during this time with a spirit of “We’ll get through this together.”
In an article I recently read by internationally acclaimed speaker and bestselling author John O’Leary, he describes a conversation he had with his grandfather during lunch twenty years ago that changed his perception of the meaning of success. With vivid detail he recalls his grandfather’s question, “Do you know why they call my generation the “Greatest Generation?” It isn’t because we survived the Great Depression…. It’s not because we served in World War II…..It’s not because we came home and built the most productive society in the history of the world. They call us the Greatest Generation because we never forgot all the lessons learned along the way. The Depression taught us to value the little things and to live within our means. The war taught us what real evil looked like, what real sacrifice looked like, what real heroism looked like.”
John continues, “The Greatest Generations conception has much in common with the situation we find ourselves in now…. The collapsing markets and soaring unemployment witnessed by my grandfather evolved into the practice of appreciating the little things, living within their means, and taking nothing for granted.
Likewise, we have the opportunity to shift into this mindset for the long haul, instead of shifting back to the over-scheduled, over-extended, avaricious society we found ourselves in before we were rocked by shelter in place orders.”
He concludes by saying, “Although the journey forward remains unclear, the Greatest Generation reminds us that what defines a society during adversity is not only how they respond in the midst of it, but whether they afterward apply the lessons they’ve learned from it.“
This is just one of the many lessons I’ve learned and one I remind myself that “All is well.”