Sometimes I feel so caught up in tasks and to-do lists and the larger global chaos around me that I find it hard to look forward to the next day, let alone the next year or generation.
Yet I also know that looking to those who come after us is the responsibility and endowment we pass along as human beings.
After all, don’t stories matter so deeply to us partly because they help us learn from the full legacy of human experience and knowledge? I believe stories ground us in the present so we can make good decisions about the future.
How can we stay rooted in the moment while thinking ahead for the well-being of future generations when we find ourselves untethered from the people who came before us? Where can we find real nourishment when our lives feel severed from the deep understanding that only comes from looking beyond the day and our lifetimes?
A mentor and a friend
Last month, we celebrated the 90th birthday of one of our founders and board members. I’ve known Peg Tileston for a long time. One thing she teaches me over and over again is how to think realistically and positively about what I can do now to make the world a better place tomorrow.
During the virtual party we threw for her, someone asked her when she planned to write a book or memoir, to which she replied, “Oh, I don’t have time for that!”
Peg surely deserves a book written about her, and also there’s so much to do!
Throughout her life, Peg has plugged in to get things done, not to check off things on a bucket list—though she might have one of those, too—but as a commitment to organizations and communities that can remain steadfast while evolving to meet the needs of the future.
She continues to do that for Trustees and other Alaska groups. She continues to share daily wisdom too. You know all those letters you write in your head that never make their way onto the screen or paper? She has them, too, and vows to send them. How can elected officials and public servants know what we value if we don’t tell them?
Celebrating the darkest day
This month, Peg and I, and many Alaskans will celebrate winter solstice, the longest night, and join people around the world in celebrating an array of winter holidays, such as Soyal, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Christmas and Kwanzaa.
Here at Trustees, we also celebrate our birthday this month, and can thank Peg and many others for founding Trustees in 1974 so that it could fill a vital role in Alaska’s future.
As 2021 comes to a close and I look ahead, I carry with me the lessons I’ve learned from Peg and other mentors and elders who continue to teach me.
Peg uplifts and inspires people not because she sees the bright side and smells only roses, but because she never turns away from harsh realities and pragmatic concerns, and in fact embraces them.
I will take this lesson into 2022, because I have a feeling I’m going to need it.
Happy holidays and New Year to all!
PS. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue fighting to protect Alaska’s land, water, air, wildlife and people!