The forecast was for an impending storm. A few drops splattered on the windshield, and then magically disappeared. My first reaction was that maybe this was all there as going to be. But the skies said otherwise.
Large gray clouds were everywhere. I casually said, “maybe I spoke too soon, and this is only the way the storm is announcing its arrival.”
I continued driving along the long narrow road traversing New York and Connecticut with the two teenagers who I was taking to a party at their friend’s house.The girls responded to my last prediction, “let’s hope not”.
The road was dotted with private homes down mostly deadend streets on either side. Without warning, and all-of-a-sudden, there was a torrential downpour. The deluge began.
Trees swayed vigorously in the strong winds, and a large branch fell onto the roadway. It was almost impassable. I turned the windshield wipers to full blast. They worked furiously but still I could hardly see. Cars and vans began to pull over to the side of the road. I announced to the girls that I also might have to stop because driving was getting dangerous.
Then, there it was. A large tree had fallen across the road. One car was able to go over the trunk, but the van directly in front of me couldn’t make it over and stopped abruptly. I thought to myself that it might be a good idea to get out of the car and try to move the tree because the road was completely impassable. In the rear- view mirror, I could see cars turning around to head back from where they came.
Then, from the other side of the roadway came two men likely in their late 20s or 30s running toward the tree. They were dressed in what appeared to be soccer gear. Behind them was a woman in a dress who also came running. I jumped out of my car to join them from my side of the fallen tree. As soon as I did, the two teenage girls jumped out of my car as well.
I don’t remember if we yelled, “1-2-3, pull” but there we were, the 6 of us standing in the pouring rain, tugging in unison to move the tree so that there would be at least 1 passable lane. It reminded me of the heave-ho command yelled to sailors to pull hard on a rope or cable that I’d seen in movies in years gone by.
Tada!!! We did it. We were able to pull the tree aside sufficiently to create a one-lane clear path. We high fived and congratulated each other before returning to our cars.
The girls remarked that as we all worked together, they could see other cars turning around to head back where they came from to find an alternative route. They even noticed one car that pulled up so close to the top of where the tree landed, that the driver seemed annoyed that, as we tugged at the tree trunk, the leaves almost brushed against his car. He backed up in annoyance and, as we barely created a clear path, he rushed through.
When we returned to the car, the girls and I spoke of the valuable lesson of the experience. It looked as if the two gentlemen and woman who rushed from the other side of the road ranged from 30s to possibly late 40s or early 50s and were of a different culture. The girls were likely in their late teens, at age 70, I was likely the most senior person on the scene.
At that moment, it struck me that no one cared about anyone’s age, background, where they lived, the amount of money they had in the bank, the nature of their employment or field of endeavor, status, religion, native language, country of origin, etc. etc. etc.
I congratulated the teenage girls for the incredible character they displayed. They didn’t hesitate for a second despite that they were dressed for a party, and never stopped to think about their clothes or hair getting wet. They recognized the importance of what needed to be done and rose to the occasion.
Will each of us who shared in the experience remember the takeaway…. That we worked together for the good of one, and the good of all?
Working together for the common good, intergenerational relationships and having a purpose outside of ourselves cannot be overstated as the importance it represents to our wellbeing and is an important factor in healthful aging. Of course, there’s much more that goes into a plan to live as healthfully and gracefully as you possibly can. But, the experience above is certainly food for thought and a place to start.
I’m hoping you will reflect on the experience I shared and think about times in your own life where you worked cooperatively with others of all ages, all backgrounds, to achieve something for the greater good.
Let us remember those times and continue to build upon them. Let us build bridges, rather than chasms. Let us not think about having to bridge the divide because if we build bridges, there will be no divide.
A while ago I wrote a poem that depicts a land where people work together for the common good.
While writing this blog it came to mind. This land is a place where people of all ages work together for the common good. It is the basis of a film I am determined to have made that elevates the value we place on our oldest citizens; appreciating them, the experiences they’ve lived through, and the wisdom they have to share.
The poem has been used as a basis for song lyrics. A version of the poem are included below:
Beautiful is a place
Where we live together as neighbors
Lending a helping hand
To live our best life.
For the Good of One
and the Good for All
Side by side we stand
Toil the land
Lift each other to stand
in their best light.
Beauty in each of us
Beauty for each other
Kindness Caring Community
This is the land we call home.
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