In our western traditions we often overlook the value of elder’s wisdom. You Could Live a Long Time: Are you Ready? by Lyndsay Green, is a wonderful, easily navigated book that shares elder’s wisdom in a very accessible way. The author is a pioneering sociologist and researcher who has spent her career helping people use communication technologies for learning.
I thought I’d try reviewing this book with aid of a video. Got to try new things out, or is it join the crowd! Video isn’t my usual book review format. This is. I added a few notes afterwards for quick reference. If you can’t see the video, click here.
The author interviewed scores of elderly people (age 75 and over) from across Canada who seemed to have a handle on things (as best as one can). Almost all of the people are just plain folks, who seemed to have hit on a formula that works. This isn’t a book about celebs.
A central theme of the book is paradox. Here’s some more examples of elder’s paradoxical insights:
- On our emotional circle: if you have a life partner, you need to figure out whether s/he is a partner for life
- On self: to keep your dignity you need to give up your pride
- On civic engagement: by giving to others, you will receive
- On work: to retire successfully, forget about retiring
- On home: to keep a home, consider leaving your house
- On body: to maintain what health you have, you need to admit when its failing
- On brain: to continue to act smart, you need to accept that you are not as swift
- On finances: leaving the party well means knowing what will happen after you’ve left
- On legacy: if you remember your life, your life will be more memorable
Being comfortable with paradox is a collaborative communication skill of the highest order. After all, in many ways we live in two worlds; one where we feel a modicum of control, the other rather uncertain or chaotic. Appreciating paradox helps us bridge these two worlds.
Even if you’re not a boomer (the primary target audience of this book), anyone can benefit from the insights offered up. We all enter Elderland one day! And, in growing numbers
What other, highly accessible, books do you recommend that summarize elder insights on life?