Inspired by three elders

Photo by Norbu GYACHUNG on Unsplash

Given the propensity of the media to focus on the negative, I find it helpful from time to time to remind myself of all the good in the world. This weekend, I asked myself, “who are the men who inspire me”? I didn’t have to look far.

I was at the dentist office on Friday. I asked about Dr. Keller and how his retirement was going (he had tried and failed to retire multiple times in his 70’s).

“Retired? He’s not retired. He moved to the Philippines with his wife to serve the poor with his dentistry. His faith called him to do it.”

I was blown away by this news. Dr. Keller had built an amazing dental practice here in Palo Alto. Surely he could enjoy retirement in his mid 70’s after such a long and successful career?

Dr. Keller is a kind and gentle man. Every time I saw him I came away with a glow in my heart. I couldn’t exactly explain why, but he touched me with his kindness as I’m sure he did others. I got the sense he was beloved by his staff.

How does Dr. Keller inspire me? To acts of service. I think about my future and how I might emulate his servitude.

Example two: Dr. Frank Flagg. Dr. Flagg was an adult neighbor when I was a child. He was a family medicine practitioner into his 70’s. He was also a renaissance man. He landscaped his property beautifully. He built all of his poolside furniture and even the pool house next to it. He painted lovely murals of nature scenes on the side of that pool house. He grew grapes on the trellises he made, and made wine from those grapes. He and his wife were hospitable to the extreme. Their pool became a neighborhood gathering spot almost every day of the summer.

How does Dr. Flagg inspire me? Generosity. And, he’s a great example of how we can have many, many more facets than the work of our careers.

Example three: Wayne Willis. Wayne is a friend and a mentor who built a distinguished career in the technology industry. Even in his retirement, Wayne is forever in learning mode. He stays current on technology. He’s also actively working on practical solutions to the global warming crisis.

How does Wayne inspire me? He never stops learning. He constantly nourishes his mind. He follows his passions and beliefs by investing in his causes.

These men touch my heart with the ways they live rich, kind and authentic lives. They inspire me because they didn’t stop being who they were as they grew older. Whereas some people might retreat from life as they age, these men leaned in.

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