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July 01, 2014

Book Review--Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life

David M. Godfrey

(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: Bifocal Vol. 35, Issue 6.)

Book Review
Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life
by Dr. Bill Thomas

reviewed by David M. Godfrey

Are you a baby boomer in denial about getting older? Or, do you work with baby boomers and are trying to understand why they act the way they do? Dr. Bill Thomas, author of Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life, contends that most baby boomers are in deep denial about aging. Anti-aging with pills, potions, diets, plastic surgery and cosmetics promising perpetual youth is a multi-billion dollar business in the United States.

Just as childhood is followed by adulthood, some are proposing that adulthood is followed by a stage of life known as elderhood. In this book, Thomas explores the joys of elderhood, this third stage of life that enthusiastically embraces and honors what it means to live a long life.

The book explores the youth, coming of age, and aging of the baby boom generation. Thomas explores what makes this generation unique; raised by parents tempered by the depression and World War II, boomers grew up under new and sometimes conflicting theories of early childhood development. Baby boomers came of age in the 1960s through 1970s, times of social and political upheaval in the United States. The book explores the ongoing roles of those who defined themselves as “squares” and those who were “hippies” as the generation progresses through adulthood and into elderhood.

The book is a mixture of social history, culture, philosophy, and commentary. It is well-researched and well-written, easy to read and understand. As usual, Thomas paints with a visionary brush--readers may find themselves at times disagreeing with how he makes a point. This shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the book explores the concepts of actively embracing aging and elderhood as the third stage of life.

Thomas urges his readers to enthusiastically embrace the physical and psychological changes of aging. Age-related changes impact the way we see, understand, and interact with the world. While many baby boomers are in denial about and fight the changes of age, those who embrace the changes that accompany aging find that they are able to understand and interact with the world in a new and different way.

The book expanded my understanding of my generation—why we think the way we do and why we do the things that we do. I recommend the book for a visionary exploration of enthusiastically embracing aging and elderhood as the third phase of life. ■

David M. Godfrey

About the Authors:

David M. Godfrey is a Senior Attorney at the ABA Commission on Law and Aging in Washington, DC.