30 Lessons for Living
If you've passed the age where getting older is something that
happens to other people (I remember when my generation was not
supposed to trust anyone over 30) aging is likely to be one of your
bigger fears...sort of the adult bogeyman. Probably people even older
would be terrified of that which gives us the heebie jeebies. Right?
Wrong. And that is only one of the revelations in Karl Pillemer's 30
Lessons for Living: Tried and True advice from the Wisest Americans.
Pillemer realized that in a society of "experts" giving advice
on just about any problem a lot of people are feeling serious angst.
"We live in the midst of plenty but always seem to want more. We feel
that we do not have enough time, and yet we waste the precious time we
have on video games, text messaging, reading about the lives of
talentless celebrities, or earning more money to buy things we don't
need. We always seem to be worrying--about our health, our children,
our marriages, our jobs."
Spurred on by his own 50th birthday, Pillemer realized he wanted
to make the most of his remaining years. He sought advice from those
experts traditionally seen as a source of wisdom but these days
considered out of it. "Older people have one unique source of
knowledge that the rest of us do not: they have lived their lives.
They have been where younger people haven't."
One of the most exciting things the experts tell us to do is,
rather than deny or dread aging, find the magic in it. Edwina (94)
had thought she would be sitting in a rocking chair watching the world
go by. Happy to be wrong, she said, "...You should enjoy your life.
Grow a little. Just because you're getting older doesn't mean that
you have to stop growing...". Many of the people interviewed actually
find themselves happier than at early stages in life.
One very important bit of advice is for us to "Act Now Like You
Will Need Your Body For a Hundred Years." Younger people tend to think
bad habits like smoking and leading a sedentary lifestyle will kill
people early. The experts in the book say it's not that simple. The
bad habits tend to lead to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart
disease that can make the last years or decades miserable. Todd (77)
said, "Well, I know this: aging is okay. But if you have to be
pushed around in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank, if there's anything
in life that you know right now that can prevent that, do it..." Those
sound like words to live by, especially for those of us who have
That is just the tip of the iceberg of treasures you will find
in this book. Who among us couldn't use a little good advice on
marriage, parenting, and work? I can't think of anyone in my life mid
twenties and on I would not urge to read 30 Lessons for Living. It's
a few years old so you may have to get it by inter library loan like I
On a personal note, I will be soon learning whether or not I get into
grad school. If I don't I'll have to decide where to go from there.
Even though I'll still look for part time jobs, I also want to be a
writer. The experts are on my side. They strongly advise taking
risks rather than living to regret not doing so. I so do not want to
find myself thinking, if only I had given writing a real chance.
A great big shout out goes out to the wonderful experts at Orono
Methodist Church including, but not limited to, Charlene, Elaine,
Gwen, Sylvia, and those almost lifetime sweethearts Alma and Fred Otto.
Julia Emily Hathaway
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