Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Something to Live For

I had to get to school a little earlier than usual today to be on a panel discussion for UW grad students about the exotic world of community college teaching, so I took the bus, and having nothing else to read, picked up the latest book—in unproofed galley form—by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro, Something to Live For: Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life.

And you know what? It’s pretty good; I liked it a lot.

In a slim volume, just over 150 pages, the authors propose a not entirely original thesis: that satisfaction in later life is to be found through a healthy balance between the urge to, as E.B. White put it, “save and savor the world,” exemplified by a wholehearted and authentic willingness to put yourself into all that you do.

But they do so with such a lack of preachiness and with so many simple and often rather lovely stories from their own lives and the shared experiences of friends, family, and colleagues, that you can’t help being drawn into the story and carried along as if a participant on the African safari that functions as a centerpiece to the narrative.

Admittedly, I’m a bit biased, but I found myself getting a little bit choked up at times by some of the more poignant reminiscences and I laughed inwardly if not altogether out loud at a few of the more amusing anecdotes, notably one in which Dave finds himself unable to get down from a massive rock he’s climbed hoping to find some real African adventure and getting much more than he bargained for in the process.

Also, the story that in some ways the entire book builds towards, a somewhat rambling tale of cross-cultural communion between the safari group and a band of Hadza tribesmen led by a 94 year-old leprechaun named Kampala; doing the hokey-pokey and putting your whole self in, that’s what it’s all about.


Blogger Deb's Lunch said...

shouldn't you have titled this one "shameless self-promotion"? or something like that? <grin> -- but not to sound too critical, I'm looking forward to reading it, and like all your books, expect to start by flipping through looking for the mentions of our family, just like how I start with the pictures, if I can, in any book.

1:15 PM  

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