For the past year it feels as if I have been in a made-for-cable television rom com… you’ve watched it often, where the last scene closes in on an adorable husband and wife, holding hands, sitting on their porch swing watching the sun set, their whispered sighs of peaceful contentment carrying over the slow fade to black… “How lovely to grow old together.”
Well, not quite, but kind of reminiscent of the many conversations Howard and I have enjoyed together as he put the finishing touches on his new book, “Embracing Elderhood: The Three Stages of Healthy, Happy and Meaningful Senior Years,” scheduled for hard cover and digital publication on September 16 by Rowman & Littlefield with listing on Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble and all the major on-line outlets.
Howard, still active and engaged at age 91, is scouting the way forward for me, sharing his encounters, delightful and difficult, and alerting me as to what to expect in preparation for the worst and the best of what lies ahead.
Fundamental to the changes I’ve observed in Howard as he embraces Elderhood, is his increased calmness and effort to disentangle from the petty stuff, relaxing into the flow rather than trying to re-direct it. His message is clear; the most precious coin is time, and it is up to us to spend it wisely, on forgiveness, gratitude and pure unconditional love.
His interaction with contemporaries has shifted as well. Here are the questions he asks them when they get stuck in the swamp of the past. How much do your petty piques cost you? What is the yield from years of harboring anger over slights real and imagined? When will you realize the extent to which you dilute your own self-worth by sitting in judgment and attempting to change others?
For Howard… and me… Elderhood is a time to live life authentically, not as a dramatization. No peace can come from chaos, and being at peace is the ultimate preparation for life’s end. From the top of the hilltop that marks the end of our journey, we have the perspective that comes with age. We see the forest and the circuitous path we traveled… and the horizon that beckons us.
Perhaps you’ll read Howard’s book and tell your own teaching story. I’d love to hear it.
Thanks for your help as I try to share Howard’s book with as many readers as possible.