49 Chapters
Medium 9781576752975

Chapter 2: The Flame of Community: Refinding Our Place

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

New Elder
Ruth Shapiro

When Dave’s dad died,his mom,Ruth,who had lived in the same house in Pittsburgh for over 30 years,decided it was time to move. This isn’t an uncommon reaction; major life changes like the death of a spouse often impel us to make changes in our living situation. What was somewhat unusual about Ruth’s decision was that she didn’t consider heading off to Florida or Arizona or any of the other “elder ghettos”as she calls them. Instead,she thought about what makes a place “home”for her. It certainly wasn’t warm weather or an “active elder lifestyle.”Rather,what she deemed important was family and independence. Also, having had to take care of her aging mother by long distance, Ruth was determined not to put her own kids into that same situation. When her own mom was in the last years of her life,Ruth was constantly shuttling between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati,where her mother lived.“I just didn’t want to put you and your sister through that,”she tells Dave.“It was all so unnecessary. The problem is,you know,that people are afraid to admit the obvious—that they’re going to die—and so don’t make the necessary preparations. For me,the solution was easy; since neither you nor your sister has any intention of returning to your childhood home,then I would come to you. If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain and all that.”

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Medium 9781576751039

Chapter 6 how do heed the call?

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I’m experiencing the most harrowing taxi ride of my life. My driver has already cut off half a dozen cars on his way out of the airport; now he’s driving down the shoulder of the highway to get around the traffic jam.

“Hey, I’m not really in a hurry,” I say, trying to drop a hint. My driver doesn’t take it. He swings wildly from the shoulder back onto the road and then the passing lane, narrowly missing the back of a pick-up truck.

“Hey. Listen. Please.” I knock on the plastic divider between the our seats. “Could you slow down? This is making me nervous.”

The driver doesn’t even acknowledge me. “Asshole!” he growls at a minivan blocking our way. Then, leaning on the horn, he cuts back across the right lane and onto the shoulder, the car’s wheels spitting gravel behind us.

I fumble for the seatbelt but there isn’t one, so I grab hold of the strap hanging down by the window. My arm is practically wrenched off as my driver swerves onto the exit ramp and into city traffic.

Here, it’s no better. My driver is constantly leaning on his horn and swearing. He punches the gas and jams on the brake; I’m getting whiplash every half a block.

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Medium 9781626565609

Chapter 3: Reimagining Gifts—How Do You Do It?

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

When people meet Richard and find out that he is a life coach, they invariably ask him, “Say, do you have a minute? Could you tell me what to do for the rest of my life?” In response to this inquiry, he has them do what we call “The Napkin Test.” You can try it right now, yourself.

Grab your typical cocktail napkin (or similarly-sized piece of paper.) On it, write down the following simple formula: G + P + V = C, where “G” stands for Gifts, “P” stands for “Passion,” “V” stands for “Values,” and “C” stands for Calling.

Gifts + Passions + Values = Calling. It is really that simple. Uncovering our calling means identifying our gifts, applying them in support of something we are passionate about, in an environment that is consistent with our values. That, in essence, is what reimagining work is all about.

Very few people have always known what they wanted to be. Sure, you hear stories about artists or writers who, upon first picking up paintbrush or pen, never looked back. Picasso, for instance, began drawing seriously at age ten and was already exhibiting in galleries by the time he was thirteen. For most of us, though, the realization of what we were meant to do is quite elusive. Few young people stop to think about what their life’s work is—and even among those who do, rare is the belief that they can make a living at it.

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Medium 9781609945497

Chapter 1 What Is the Good Life?

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In the Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris, Owen Wilson plays Gil, a successful Hollywood screenwriter visiting Paris with his fiancé, Inez. Gil, who is struggling to complete his first novel, falls in love with the city, and fantasizes about moving there, a prospect Inez, who can hardly wait to get back to Southern California, considers just silly romantic nonsense.

Although Inez’s dismissal of Gil’s dream is a symptom of deeper problems in their relationship, she has a point. Because it’s not even contemporary Paris that Gil adores — not the Paris of the 21st century — rather, he has fallen in love with a dream: Paris of the 1920s, the Paris of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and the whole Lost Generation of Americans who made the City of Lights their home after World War I.

In fact, so powerfully does Gil long for this time that one night, to his surprise and consternation, he is magically transported back to that world: he is picked up at midnight by Scott and Zelda and taken in a limousine to a party, where he meets such luminaries as Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and of course, Hemingway himself. At first, understandably, he can’t believe what is happening, but eventually, he comes to accept that it’s real, and is thrilled by his good fortune.

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Medium 9781576751039

Chapter 4 passions—what keeps calling me?

Leider, Richard J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I’ve just finished a delicious African feast at a favorite hole-in-the-wall hideaway in Nairobi, Kenya. My taxi driver, a laughing grandmother, is driving me slowly back to my hotel. Sitting in the cab, my belly full, watching the lights of the city pass by, I listen to her deep, mellifluous voice rising above the sound of the old car’s engine.

She’s telling me about her three grandchildren. They’ve been living with her since her daughter’s husband was killed in an accident. That tragedy is mentioned almost as if in passing; her story focuses instead on the liveliness and energy of the three kids and what a pleasure—and a challenge—it is for her to keep up with them.

I express my condolences at her son-in-law’s death and she nods sagely. Life is full of the unexpected, she says. Every day, she sees it, right here in her cab. To her, the opportunity to meet new people all the time is a source of great wonder; making connections with people, she says, is her undying passion. “What else matters in this world,” she asks, “than people? I never tire of laughing with the happy ones and consoling the sad ones.”

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