Home for the holidays… home to the core of our humanity
by Dr. Roger LandryDr. Landry is the author of Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging
After a big year with a crazy schedule that kept me on a first name basis with TSA people in many airports throughout the country, my wife, Paula, and I left our progressively colder Massachusetts home early in December for a week to just BE in the Virgin Islands. What we found here was more than sunshine, beaches, coral, and mahi-mahi sandwiches. We found our humanity.
At a time when divisive rhetoric, lack of compassion, and violent acts bombard our world, Paula and I found ourselves in a village society where tolerance, kindness, laughter, and the pace of Nature are as plentiful as the sunshine. Here on St. John, there’s an eclectic group of indigenous and ex-patriot souls, older adults, young children, and those in the middle years, who live, love, and celebrate life as a tribe. They gather frequently, to sing, to mourn, to recognize rites of passage, and to just be together. Some have had hard lives, filled with loss and pain; some are running from another life; some were born here and believe they were hatched in paradise; some stay all year, some only part. The point is, these people are connected in ways our ancient, and even more recent, ancestors were. They are individuals who are also part of a whole, and that whole, is magically, even mystically, a source of comfort, peace, and joy.
The Wrong Way
Sadly, our societies have developed, without I believe ever intending to, in ways that have created wedges and gaps between us. The frenetic, time dominant, highly technical, outcome rather than process-oriented world, values the destination over the journey. This lifestyle can allow ourselves and others to travel outside the family of Man, blind to injustice, poverty, pain, and isolation. The village people of St. John reminded me we can do better.
Home For the Holidays
So, during this holiday season, let’s go home. Let’s go home to the very core of our humanity; to the single most important factor in us surviving and thriving as a species … our connection to one another. No matter what our age, race, background, or current condition, we’re all better together. Let’s put aside the things that divide us and relish those things that we share. And like my Virgin Islands new friends who readily accepted Paula and I into their family, let’s not draw boundaries around ourselves. Let’s open the floodgates of possibility and find, as we have, that a sense of belonging is a gift that is indeed priceless.
Four ways to holiday cheer
- DNA OVER DIVERSIONS: Reach out to someone who was once important but has been absent from your life. Whatever the reason you have not been connected, put it aside and instead remember the reason you were once close. It’s easier with social media to locate someone today, but make sure your connection results in at least a phone call, and even better, an in-person meeting.
- GIVE TO REAP: Find and opportunity to volunteer to help those who are on the fringes of society either because of poverty or health or isolation. Humanity ties us all to each other and that is what these holidays celebrate. It’s a cliché, but one that is universally true. It is better, more meaningful, and immensely rewarding to give. When that gift is your attention or time, it’s all the more valuable.
- FIND YOUR PEACE: I know, the holidays can be chaotic with shopping, cooking, travel and preparations, but allow yourself a few minutes … that’s all it takes … to be mindful of why all this happening. No matter what our faith, culture, or geographical location, the holidays come down to celebrating our humanity, celebrating this gift of life. Forget the to-do list for those few minutes and BE; acknowledge that you are blessed to a member of the Family of Man.
- BE GENEROUS: Beyond gift giving, if you have ANY opportunity to make someone happy, do it! It may only be a smile, a hug, a compliment, or a favor. Don’t miss the opportunity. The old adage of the Golden Rule can guide you on what might be well received.
Make the words Happy Holidays have real meaning for you. Remember, happiness is a choice. Be happy. Be well.
Dr. Landry has been featured nationally and internationally on radio and TV with NBC, FOX News, ABC and CBS as well as BBC and 2GB radio. Dr. Landry has also written exclusive articles, and been called on as an expert in the field of aging, by publications such as US News and World Report, Huffington Post US/Canada, About.com –Assisted Living, Expert Beacon and eHow and makes regular appearances on MBLN. Dr. Landry was also featured in GRAND Magazine, Senior Planet, Journal of Aging and Health, Denver Post and ThirdAge. Link to media clips: Dr. Roger Landry