Tools and anecdotes to reframe aging from the best-selling author of Work as a Spiritual Practice and Aging as a Spiritual Practice.
Aging is not just a process, but a journey: a decades-long adventure of new opportunities and surprises. And while loss, tragedy, and decline are inevitably part and parcel of getting older, so too are joys, gifts, and new discoveries. For men in particular, the decline in virility and power that accompanies age is a tough pill to swallow: When these fall away, what remains? And without them, what does it mean to be a man?
As life unfolds, a man's identity is renewed, reviewed, and negotiated: The markers that make him himself at 20 won't be the same at 35, 50, or 70. This book shows listeners how to turn toward these changes, to come into their own as older men by reframing the losses of age as strengths and opportunities for growth.
Drawing from interviews and personal anecdotes, each chapter includes a contemplative practice called Deep Mind Reflection to help listeners navigate aging and topics like divorce and single living; illness, death, and emotions; relating to partners; health, denial, and substance abuse; retirement and encore careers; and reframing a masculine identity once predicated on strength and virility. For every challenge or difficulty men face as they age, there are positive outcomes and fresh possibilities. This book encompasses the totality: fears and aspirations, new careers and next steps, and spiritual preparation for the final decades of life.
I am the author of five books, mostly on Buddhist themes related to the workplace, illness, a nd (more recently) aging. In addition to a career as a Buddhist teacher (now retired), I have been a software entrepreneur, musician and composer.
My latest book EVERY BREATH, NEW CHANCES: HOW TO AGE WITH HONOR AND DIGNITIY--A GUIDE FOR MEN is due for release Nov. 2020. Although as the title implies the book is oriented to men's aging issues, women should find a lot of interest in it; I hope they will buy it, read it, and give it to the man in their life!
Lewis Richmond’s (2020) book, Every Breath, New Chances, provides a caring look at men’s experience of aging in contemporary times in Middle America. Using developmental guideposts postulated by Erik Erikson, Lewis ties examples from his own and other’s men’s experiences to illustrate his major themes. He presents women’s voices in a latter section of the book as helpful observational perspectives.
The primary value in my view is his emphasis on valuing the emotional experiences during aging. His gentle encouragement to male readers to allow themselves access to the information that emotions can provide about the aging experience is a welcome approach.
Each chapter concludes with a meditation exercise that guides men to use this viable ancient practice to gain insight into their own aging process. I chose not to engage in these exercises. Having strayed from meditating for some time, I felt the need to re-establish my own pattern before using his suggestions. Perhaps I will go back to the book and do so at some point. I wonder how other readers will respond to these sections.
While I appreciate the value of Erikson’s work, newer developmental research would have brought a fresher picture to the aging story. Recent work by noted psychologists (Diehl, et al., 2020) have integrated biological and psychosocial research on aging and expanded the discussion to greater inclusivity among a wider range of men. To his credit, Richmond acknowledges the diversity among men but the book seems primarily written by and for a white, cisgender, middle income set of experience.
I’m grateful that Lewis Richmond wrote this book and found it affirming and reinforcing of many thoughts and feelings I have experienced and anticipate as an older man. It is a kind work.
Diehl, M., Smyer, M. A., & Mehrotra, C. M. (2020). Optimizing aging: A call for a new narrative. American Psychologist, 75(4), 577-589. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000598 Richmond, L. (2020). Every breath, new chances: How to age with honor and dignity--a guide for men. North Atlantic Books.