Too bad we don’t know now what we’ll know then . . . oh, if only we could have the wisdom of old age right now. And at no charge, please.
The Legacy Project brings usable wisdom home to us now, just when we need it most. The project was started in 2004 as the brainchild of Karl Pillemer, a professor at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College. It works like this: nearly 1,500 people, ages 70 and beyond, contributed their responses to the question “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?” The advice is given in both easy-to-read articles and short videos, and it’s always straight from the heart.
A favorite on the site is Gert who shares the view from age 101. She talks about marrying late, enjoying your job and saving your money. Part of her advice includes, “Be charitable; give what you can.” She believes she has followed her own advice, and “it turned out right.” But how does Gert stay so young and happy?? For starters, she does Flash Mobs. Here’s a video (with Gert front and center) flash mobbing Union Square in New York City on October 25, 2011, to a funky combination of classical-meets-hip-hop-with-elder-voice-overs music. I love the last line of the song, “While the music is still playing, let’s dance.”
Susan, 85, talks about the agonizing pain of estrangement from one’s children. Pounding her fists, she said, “I did something wrong. And it hurts like crazy.” The article on this page gives advice from other elders about avoiding estrangement with your kids, or healing it once it occurs.
You can search the site by topic, or choose from a menu. Here’s a small sampling:
Love and Marriage: Roxanne, age 74, shares how she selected her life partner, “Of course, you have to pick the right person. When I married my husband he was – well I just felt there was nobody like him. And I wanted to feel that way the rest of my life.”
Worry and Stress: Morris, age 91, offers concise advice: “I’ll put it this way. Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is cash in hand, spend it wisely.”
Don’t miss the section on the Lighter Side, where Arnold, 95 shares a laugh and offers advice about staying young: “You ask about life lessons? I will tell you a story. A father talks to his son, and he says to his son, I want to talk to you about sex. And the son says, ‘Dad, what do you want to know?’ There’s your answer. We have to learn from the young and always stay curious.”
If you’re 70+ and can share some wisdom, here’s a great place to do it. Click here to share what you've learned.