Posted on August 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm
This year the last wave of the Baby Boom Generation turned 50. There is lots of speculation about how Boomers will reinvent retirement and change the way we think about aging. Michael Gurian, (a Spokane author) wroteThe Wonder of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After Fifty. He describes the stages of life after 50 and how our priorities change as we age. In Creative Aging: Rethinking Retirement and Non-Retirement in a Changing World, Marjory Zoet Bankson describes the process of transitioning from working full time to find a meaningful new life after that chapter has ended. There are lots of books about “encore careers” and retirement jobs that allow you to work on your own terms and make a difference in the second half of life. And of course there are volumes written on how stay young and healthy.
My favorite book on aging is a little fable by a French psychologist, called Hector and the Search for Lost Time. A few years ago, I read Hector and the Search for Happiness so when I saw that Hector has a new adventure I put it on reserve. It was the perfect book to read on a plane. While I was flying to Seattle I could imagine Hector flying through time zones to distant places. He never names specific locations but he describes them in vivid detail.
Hector notices that not everyone feels the same way about time. The little boy who can’t wait to grow up thinks time goes too slow. The woman who fears aging wants to stop time. When he visits the cold, dark north Hector loses all sense of time. In his travels he meets people who are constantly fighting against time and he visits places where people are never rushed. He finds those who are obsessed with anti-aging as well as some who embrace their age.
Hector reminded me that time is not unlimited. I can remember the past and hope for the future, but ultimately I live in the present. My memories shape who I am and my dreams give me something to anticipate. I don’t want to get stuck in the past or future and miss this moment. This is a book that I will reread from time to time. I suspect that it may have a different message each time I read it.
Libraries across the country are looking for new ways to serve the Boomer population. Most of the research shows that to stay healthy as we age we need to engage in mentally stimulating activities, socialize with others, and take care of our physical health. We have always offered books to stimulate your mind. Now, we are adding opportunities to join a learning community. Take a class online, participate in a book club, attend a program to learn from local experts or volunteer to make a difference. We welcome your ideas about the types of programs you might like us to offer and we also welcome volunteers willing to share their expertise with others.
I invite you to enjoy the waning days of summer and take time to read a good book.