May 7, 2014 – I climbed onto a plane, my 8th flight in the last 9 days, huddled over my laptop getting ready to punch out a few hundred words about how technology can positively impact the lives of veterans living in nursing homes, a topic I’m passionate about. But as the plane was ascending, too early for me to get out my PC, I did some reading and was brought to a screeching halt by a headline “Industry Visionary David Green Dies.”
I didn’t know David intimately, but over the years he probably attended 10-plus presentations of mine at various conferences. He was eccentric, he was irreverent, and he was passionate. I would cringe, frankly, when he attended some of my sessions as his little body had a booming voice, and he was completely comfortable interrupting my sessions with a question or statement that may or not have been on topic. I enjoyed talking with him, but I also at time avoided the conversations because I knew the time required would last longer than my “busy” schedule would allow. After virtually every time he saw me present I would promise to send a follow-up email, some type of correspondence, more often than not I did not follow through on my commitment.
So now, at 30,000 feet, his death resonates with me, and with it the realization that I will no longer be able to have the conversations he wanted to have, to send the emails he wanted to read. David Green was a passionate visionary in the field of aging, intimately involved in the Pioneer Network, Wellspring, a co-founder of the reputable organization SAGE (Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments). He was far ahead of the curve in terms of trying to bring senior living to China. Most of our conversations revolved around the cultural implications of establishing person-based technology programming in that part of the world.
I’m mesmerized reading his obituary, seeing the remarkable accomplishments he made to the field in his 47-year career. I can’t help but think of all of the things I could have learned from him if I had simply slowed down, taken the time to learn and listen.
So I would like to toast David for a life well-lived, and to thank him for the lives that he changed. I offer up a sincere, sincere apology. The world we carve for ourselves, and I have thoroughly embraced to my detriment, is a world of snippet conversations. Short texts, tweets, 3 minute conversations at a vendor booth, etc.: That is the norm. It’s brevity over substance, and not talking the time to fully engage the depth that a colleague can provide.
David deserved better. I will take his wisdom to heart. It’s never too late to change our own folly.