Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Ultimate Elixir

There was a book that came out in the mid-seventies called ‘Positive Addiction’ by William Glasser. That was an interesting title for a wonderful thought-provoking book about what has become the ultimate elixir for many people in retirement…their  newfound passion.

The idea of positive addiction came to Glasser as he was reading Roger Kahn’s ‘The Boys of Summer,” a book about baseball players. He described it as “I came to believe that most people can use positive addiction to help themselves grow stronger in their chosen field. In fact, positive addiction doesn’t require anyone else; it doesn’t even exist in the presence of others. In short, it’s the only truly self-help practice I know.”

We’re seldom surprised when we read about artists of every ilk that seem to be a post child for unbridled passion about their art whether it be painting, writing, acting  or any other creative endeavors. Artists are like that…a bit over-the-top when it comes to their focus in life.

                                                Palm Springs Writers Guild

 I’ve seen another side of that equation at the Palm Springs Writers Guild. Many guild members are well into their sixties and seventies. Yet despite their age and lineage, there seems to be a universal desire to better themselves through their writing. It might be a memoir they’ve finally decided to tackle after a lifetime of their children and grandchildren nagging them to ‘tell their story.’ It might be reader who after reading hundreds of romance novels feels she or he is now ready to tackle that storyline they’ve had percolating in the back of their head for decades. 

Last April we had a Writers Expo and forty-one (mostly first time) authors were at the Rancho Mirage Library to show off their works and hopefully sell some books too. Book topics ran the gauntlet from how-to to romance to mysteries to cook books to westerns.
Unfortunately, foot traffic was light and few of us sold many books. But despite the disappointing sales there was a camaraderie in the room and a feeling that we were all following our calling and our dreams. These writers were, to a person, passionate about our art and the stories they were trying to tell. 

Unlike so many retirees of that age, those folks were doing more than just going through the motions of life. They have collectively found their passion and a reason to get up each day and do something meaningful with their lives.

With the tidal wave of boomers now crashing against retirement shores, it’s interesting to see the plethrea of magazine articles and books and seminars telling us all how to stay active. The drug companies have a little pill for every ailment. Cruise ships promise travel bliss and comfort in even the roughest of seas. Retirement communities boast about not being like those other old folks homes. There is an answer and a solution to anything and everything that might hinder total comfort among seniors. Yet all of the answers and solutions only provide a temporary respite from pending finality. But a passion, any passion, transcends that temporary patch and provides meaningful and soul-satisfying answers to the question: ‘What do I do with the rest of my life?’

There was an article recently in the New York Times by Phyllis Korkki about wisdom among older people. It’s a fascinating article and one of the things I was able to distill from it was the fact that people with a goal in life or a ‘passion’ are much better equipped to face the inevitable consequences of old age. It seems to come with the territory.

So I guess I’ll continue to write and blog and explore my literary landscape for ideas I can morph into stories. It’s a fictional landscape I’m learning to traverse and no matter the outcome, the journey is certain to be one heck of a ride.

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