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As a culture, Americans dread the concept of aging. I'll be honest: I truly dislike this perspective. It suggests that our "real lives" are over with after just a few decades. What if our misconceptions could be corrected by connecting generations through swapping stories and memories?
Benita Cooper, architect and blogger, was interested by her grandmother's tales of her childhood. Hearing these stories made her closer to her grandmother and she realized how much she valued knowing this history.
Soon after, she began a project called, The Best Day of My Life (So Far). She runs workshops and writing classes for seniors to share and record their memories into prose, poetry or anything. Family members and folks from all generations are welcome to join in. The finished writing is posted on the group's blog.
And you know what? It's fun to read. Most of the writing is narratives with vivid descriptions. It's writing that obviously flows straight from the experience of living. Some pieces might swell up your emotions a bit too. If you're like me and never had a strong grandmother or grandfather figure in your life, this is a first glance into an older generation's perspective.
Benita is slowly taking this project towards her long-term vision:
“Imagine a world where storytelling classes like ours sprout up in countless senior centers, and one by one seniors become stronger and happier and begin opening up about their lives and feelings.
“Imagine a world where family members spread across cities and continents can get online and search for all the stories that a senior has written about his childhood, to find out things about him and their ancestry that they had never known.
“Imagine this family starting to talk – to the senior, and to one another. Imagine family relationships rekindling with each conversation.
“Imagine a high school teacher sharing these seniors’ stories with a group of teenagers on a projection screen, and a teenager going home to her laptop to read on. Imagine this teenager listening, really listening, to the life lessons embedded in these stories. Imagine her posting a comment for the senior on the other side of the world who wrote her favorite story, telling the senior that he has inspired her to be a better person.
“Imagine people like you and me, no matter our age, ethnicity, occupation, mood of the day, frustrations, inhibitions, popping open an easy-to-use website with all these stories whenever we just need a little more sunshine in our lives.”
Now, that's a world that I'd like to be more of a part of.