How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)

How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)

Henry Alford

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0446196045

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this witty guide for seekers of all ages, author Henry Alford seeks instant enlightenment through conversations with those who have lived long and lived well.

Armed with recent medical evidence that supports the cliche that older people are, indeed, wiser, Alford sets off to interview people over 70--some famous (Phyllis Diller, Harold Bloom, Edward Albee), some accomplished (the world's most-quoted author, a woman who walked across the country at age 89 in support of campaign finance reform), some unusual (a pastor who thinks napping is a form of prayer, a retired aerospace engineer who eats food out of the garbage.) Early on in the process, Alford interviews his 79 year-old mother and step-father, and inadvertently changes the course of their 36 year-long union.

Part family memoir, part Studs Terkel, How To Live considers some unusual sources--deathbed confessions, late-in-life journals--to deliver a highly optimistic look at our dying days. By showing that life after 70 is the fulfillment of, not the end to, life's questions and trials, How to Live delivers that most unexpected punch: it makes you actually *want* to get older.

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has been seen as a sign of sainthood; Brahmanic canons record that a few elderly hermits became so wise that their bodies were transubstantiated into immortality. Confucianism promotes ancestor worship, which is certainly related to reverence for the elderly—just for the deceased elderly, thus making the reverence much easier to sustain. My initial research suggested that the wisdom of elders is particularly venerated in Eastern and African cultures. And Middle Eastern. And Latin. And Native

old people are wise is not merely rooted in anecdotal evidence. There’s medical evidence, too. Until the 1970s or so, the mind was considered merely to be part of the brain and not part of one’s biological being. Recent studies in neuroscience, however, show that the brain has a powerful ability to influence its own aging. Nuland explains in The Art of Aging that “it is no longer enough to conceive of the mind as a function only of the brain; it must be thought of as influenced by the very

working at a methadone clinic—that if Will were to “act out,” the moment would come when Mom and the movers pulled out of the driveway ten days hence, when none of us kids was planning to be around. “I wish someone were going to be here with me,” Mom said. Fred rose to the bait: “That sounds like a job for an insensitive man.” THE CLEANUP had gone faster than anticipated. By Sunday morning at 10:30, we were done, and everyone was eager to hit the road. Will had bought a lot of clam

also featured a living son.) The movie version “opens out” the play by having the two drunken couples take a trip to a roadhouse. Albee told us, in what seemed only slight exaggeration,“With the exception of two sentences, every line of dialogue is mine. Here’s the first sentence I did not write: ‘Let’s go to the roadhouse!’ The second sentence I did not write goes something like, ‘Hey, let’s come back from the roadhouse!’ ” Albee told us that he considers the finished film “pretty good,”

past futile sacrifices to continue making further futile sacrifices.” “Isn’t there some way to get the wisdom of hindsight in advance?” “If I can survive death, I can probably survive anything.” No aspect of Brilliant’s career is more rooted in realism than the fact that he has had to protect his material—all of which is copyrighted—vigorously.In 1979, when Brilliant challenged a heat-transfer-decal company that had appropriated three of his gems, a federal judge ruled that Brilliant’s

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