“Aging with Wisdom : Reflections, Stories and Teachings” by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle
Reviewed by Jacqui Dodds
This beautifully written, succinct book is an incredibly useful and inspiring guide on how to think wisely and compassionately about one’s aging process.
aving recently celebrated my 70th birthday and noticed how this felt like a very significant event, marking my transition into a new stage of life, I was particularly interested to learn about Hoblitzelle’s new book.
ndeed, I can now recommend that others follow my example and read this book in small chunks of no more than one to three of her short chapters, in order to encourage deep contemplation of the shared examples of how a wide range of men and women have emanated joy, love and equanimity in the face of debilitating illness, aging and death. Like Hoblitzelle, I see these people as excellent role models for meeting my own aging, illness and death. They also stimulate me to look closely at how much I am being helped or hindered in this aging experience by a sense of free choice and opportunity, or am I being moved by socially conditioned learnings from early life and assumptions of social expectations and values?
he author is a wise woman indeed, who knows how to pick the eye teeth out of the life examples she draws on and how to choose a particularly salient verse of poetry or quote from revered authors and teachers to illustrate the ‘wise way’ through this later stage in life and, finally, death – the last stage of all. For example, when speaking about how living in the moment with “pure perception” supports conflict resolution and shows a strong association with happiness and acceptance of the losses associated with old age, she quotes from Rumi: ”Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas language and the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
aving read through this book, generally in the middle of the night when I am kept awake with pain, I feel more confident and relaxed when contemplating my own aging process, chronic pain and eventual death. Hoblitzelle and the role models she speaks of have shown the way forward to live with pure perception in a spirit of love and equanimity that is truly inspiring.
ou can find my review of Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle earlier book “The Majesty of Your Loving: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s” HERE