May 26, 2015 // 8:20 AM

Legacy and Perspective

Written by Scott Miller

Memorial Day afternoon I was watching a mother robin with two of her chicks foraging for worms. The chicks followed her around, chirping like crazy. Occasionally she would pick something up and feed it to them. I was curious if they could fly so after watching them for an extended period of time, I walked toward them and sure enough they could get off the ground. Not very well, but they got to the lower branches of a nearby tree.

Not long ago I was talking to a local businessman, he was in his mid 60s. We were standing by the fish tank in the Village Square. There was someone else standing there watching the fish. He looked at me and commented, "This might sound crazy but recently I've discovered I love to watch birds. I have bird feeders outside my window and I love to just sit and watch the birds. I've never done that before in my life!"

If you think about it, it makes sense at some level. We do things differently as we put on years. We see things differently. We gain perspectives. I'll be cracking 58 in a couple of weeks and I see things very differently than I did in my 30s and 40s. In my 30s, my priorities were raising a family and building a career. In my 40s, I just wanted to get things done. It was all results, results, results. Family continues to be of most importance and I realize the significance of results, but short term results aren't everything they're cracked up to be. In fact, I've seen short term results that look impressive but don't hold up for the long term. That observation, that experience, causes me to look at things differently. As the saying goes, with more years comes more perspective.

On page 9 of the June 2015 issue of Psychology Today, there's a quote by Dawn C. Carr, a research associate at the Standford Center on Longevity. She says, "A mature 70 year old has the ability to take stock of what has happened so far and think about what it means for what's yet to come. Such people can consider what kind of legacy they want to leave behind and the value of their lives to the broader society. They are able to focus on the more positive aspects of everyday life."

I think Dawn Carr is right on. I see that at Garden Spot Village all the time. It's one of the things people find so intriguing about this environment. I'm surrounded by people ranging from late 50s to over 100 who are "retired" yet they go to work every day, who contributed in excess of 54,000 hours of volunteerism in 2014, who think about fashioning a legacy, living with purpose and making broader contributions to society and the community at large. They enjoy life and they're making a difference at the same time.

It seems like a good lesson for us regardless of our age. We can start thinking about new and different ways to contribute on a wider scale. We can think in terms of legacy.

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