Over the holiday season our family was lucky. This year more than ever, we were able to stand alongside a lot of deserving people and provide a hand up. Families, individuals, military members, random strangers, foster children and senior citizens to showcase a few. There’s need around all of us.
But one night, Tuesday December 13th, stuck out. That night my schedule looked like this:
You see, for the first time in years I was visiting a nursing home. When I say nursing home, my bet is you have visions from your past. For me those memories include a great grandmother we regularly visited and also singing inside nursing homes as part of elementary school choir. I’m sure you have your memories. But it’d been a decade plus since the last time I’d stepped foot inside one. And the hour spent inside, watching my son and a handful of other young Cub Scouts read stories to the residents, gave time for a lot of thoughts to run through my mind.
Stepping into my internal dialogue (scary I know), that night went something like this:
- Number One – This is really good for Noah and these boys. I’m glad they get a chance to read in front of the nursing home residents, experience this environment and have an appreciation for this phase in life. There’s a lot they can learn out of this.
- Number Two – Even though they’re not responding much, I hope the residents listening are enjoying this. If I were in their shoes, what would I be thinking? Some of these people probably don’t get a lot of visitors, so hopefully this brings a little joy their way.
- Number Three – This place is depressing. The uninspiring cafeteria, sterile smells, a limited activity agenda and keypads to enter and exit everywhere. It feels like a hospital sprinkled with middle school jail. There’s no wonder people can become robots in here and not find enough stimulus. This is a reminder why, if it’s in my control, I’ll never choose to live this way.
- Number Four – But that’s probably disrespectful and condescending. Because while this nursing home isn’t paradise to me, it would be for countless other retirees who can’t afford something similar. How would this compare to someone living in isolation off government assistance? Or someone in their final years struggling to find housing at all? In addition to that, I’m sure most of the people who work here really care. Get off your high horse Matt.
- Number Five – This is a lesson in perspective. Tonight being great for Noah & his young friends, a teaching moment for their parents (me), joyous for the residents listening, fulfilling to the full time workers, depressing and sterile or safe and a paradise is all about perspective. It’s based on how we grew up, what we’ve been exposed to and how we think about the situation. It’s all about perspective and that’s different for all of us in so many ways.
So as we move out of the holiday season and into 2017, let’s remember perspective. Being an American citizen, we’re already “ahead” of 99% of the world’s population by nearly every standard. Use that mindset, and that perspective, to make 2017 what you want.