It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog on this website—several months, in fact. During that time I’ve been hard at work on my new book, whose working title is now The Final Mountain: Aging with Honor and Dignity: A Guide for Men. One mission of this book is to strengthen intuition and emotion in aging men, and help them redefine what it means to be a man in the last third of life.
This new book follows on my 2012 book Aging as a Spiritual Practice. That book was written for both men and women, but on the whole the majority of its readers were women. In doing research for a men’s book I discovered that there really isn’t a book out there that is just for aging men—at least not one that speaks to the inner life of men’s aging, which I envision as a kind of hero’s path. Aging is not really about weakness and slow decline; I don’t see it that way. I want to reframe that view of aging and see our very vulnerabilities as strengths.
I told a local bookstore owner about my new book and she laughed, “Oh, men only read books if they are about sex or money.”
Well, all right. Sex and money are both important topics for aging, and there are many others. I thought a book on aging for men was well worth doing, and that if it were done well men would indeed read it—as well as women. Women are interested in this topic too. They watch their husbands and partners deal with aging issues, often in silence, and know a lot about men’s aging that their men need to know. The manuscript has now been submitted to the publisher—North Atlantic Books– and is due to come out in October, 2020.
From the get go I decided I didn’t want to do a book with lots of facts and information about diet, vitamins, blood pressure, exercise, declining sex drive, and finance. There are already books like that, as well as many websites where such information is readily available. Besides, I am not a gerontologist or other professional aging expert, nor am I a journalist. I am a retired software entrepreneur, musician and composer, and former Buddhist meditation teacher. My métier is the inner life. I decided to construct the book like a layer cake, with four layers. The first layer is essential information that all aging men need to know. The second is a guide to feelings and emotions; the real drama of aging is not intellectual, it is emotional. The third is a kind of real-time memoir about my own emerging drama of aging. And the fourth is a set of contemplative exercises drawn from Buddhism and other psychological sources that I call Deep Mind Reflections. Each chapter concludes with one of these reflections.
I hope I have been able to show men how to come into their own as older men and reframe the seeming losses of aging as strength. My motto—gleaned from a hospital chaplain I know—is that vulnerability is actually strength. We men don’t like being vulnerable; we would rather be strong. When we are young we feel strong, but if aging is anything, it is about the slow decline of what we think of as strength. But there are many ways to be strong. Courage is not just for the young, and there is purpose in all stages of life.
Now that the book is done I’m hoping to post a blog every couple of weeks, and a newsletter every 6 weeks or so. Watch for my email and social media links about new postings. I hope you will visit my website often, where you can interact not just with me but other men (and women) in a growing interactive family.