Monthly Archives: April 2023

On being transgenerational

What I fear about aging is becoming conspicuously and stereotypically old. I’m not talking about the natural physical and mental changes that accompany aging. What I fear is the calcification of my attitude and outlook on life. I want to avoid falling into the trap of thinking according to a generational divide and believing that I must stay on my side of the generation gap.

Each generation has its place in the continuum of time, and unfortunately there are negative comparisons coming from both directions. Past generations create myths that support their belief that they were stronger, smarter, bolder, cooler, braver than succeeding generations.

The younger generations, because they are more technologically advanced than previous generations, see a mirage that indicates to them that they are more savvy and capable than the generations that came before them.  

I want to know what I need to do to continue to be relevant and engaged in the continuation of human prosperity for all generations. I want to take a walk in the athletic shoes of younger generations to try to feel what it must be like to be facing an uncertain economic and social future in today’s world. I want to meet younger generations where they are in their interests.

I feel extremely lucky when I have the privilege to have conversations with the newer generations. I’m eager to understand their views on representation and culture; family and values; work and play; politics and human interactions. If they want to hear my perspective, I’m happy to share. However, I do not believe that because I’ve lived longer and have more experience in some things that I, and others like me in older generations, have the insights and knowledge to change the trajectory of the future. As in all things, I believe that shared knowledge among diverse groups is essential for optimal outcomes.

I do now believe–and always have–that our upcoming generations are our hope for the future. My hope for myself is that I can be a help and not a hindrance to the work that they must do. One way that I plan to avoid being conspicuously and stereotypically old is to be transgenerational. I want to cross the generational divide by accommodating to the new order of things. I want to lessen the distance of the generational gap by being in the moment with what’s happening now.

Are you lucky?

Recently, I have been thinking about the concept and nature of luck. Throughout time there have been omens, signs and symbols that purport to predict or indicate good or bad luck.  

Following are some common superstitions around luck:

If you break a looking-glass you will have seven years of bad luck.

If the palm of your right hand itches, money is coming to you. If your left hand itches, money will be leaving you.

If you see a shooting star, make a wish and it will come true.

If you find a four-leaf clover it is a sign of good luck.

If you can, don’t plan anything on Friday the 13th because if anything could go wrong, it will on this date.

Before considering my question about whether or not you’re lucky, it may be helpful to first consider a definition of luck that may have common agreement. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, luck is “the force that causes things, especially good things, to happen to you by chance and not as a result of your own efforts or abilities.”

Starting with the premise of good things happening—hence being lucky—do you think that being lucky is solely by chance, a proverbial roll of the dice? Or do you think that nothing happens serendipitously?

While enjoying a lovely dinner and an enviable view of Camelback Mountain at sunset with a dear friend, I asked my friend to tell me her thoughts on being lucky. Her cogent and assured response was impressive. As I listened, it seemed that the idea of being lucky was not something that she would ordinarily forward as the cause of good fortune. That became clear as she used three powerful terms to elucidate her idea of having good fortune: faith; surrender; and free will.

We were in complete agreement and harmony on the idea of faith or belief as a foundational requirement for positive outcomes. Having a strong faith is a touchstone of both of our lives. However, I needed to have her tell me more about what free will and surrender meant to her in responding to the question about being lucky. Though I dare not attempt to relay or summarize her ideas about free will and surrender, I was inspired to think about what these concepts meant to me in regard to luck.

As I continue to mull around with ideas about being lucky, I encounter big questions about the universe and our very existence. What I’m finding is that to live as a human, if we’re lucky—and though some of us may be uncomfortable with this kind of thinking—we will be open to conflating the ideas of logic, chance, serendipity, synchronicity with faith, free will, and surrender.

Jews of the Wild West

On Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023, I went to the Scottsdale Museum of the West to see a screening of the documentary film, Jews of the Wild West.

As I watched the film, I kept thinking about how the stories of Jewish people who immigrated to the United States and later to the Western United States appear to be missing from American history. The absence continues to be perpetuated in books and films today. A special thanks is owed to the nonprofit production company and to the filmmaker, Amanda Kinsey, for uncovering and sharing such a significant part of American history.

Notable Jewish migrants to the West are Levi Strauss, who we can thank for the jeans we wear; Isaac Shwayder, whose son, Jesse, founded the premier luggage line Samsonite; and Meyer Guggenheim, patriarch of the philanthropic Guggenheim family whose wealth came from the mining and smelting business. Women such as Golda Meir were also prominent in establishing a Jewish presence in the West. To say that these families had humble beginnings is an understatement.

They used their ingenuity, persistence, grit, and desire to make a life without persecution—one in which they not only survived the hardships of the frontier but thrived. They found that the Wild West had less antisemitism than New York City. In general, people who moved West had one thing on their minds: taking advantage of the riches the frontier would eventually offer.

The Jews who migrated West, for the most part, were not panning streams and mining for gold. They understood that people needed practical products and clothes as they pursued their dreams of a better life and their road to riches. The Jewish migrants may have started out as peddlers who made enough money to open a dry goods store as in the case of Shwayder. Eventually, they found markets within their communities and beyond that became their road to success. Because they were usually the only people in the community with a business, they often became the mayors of these frontier towns.

Jews of the Wild West is rich with the personal stories of the Jews who struck out for the Wild West and made good. Check out streaming platforms and American Public Television to see this film.