It is a great gift to read an author who feels like a friend. Parker Palmer is one such writer. His latest book is a series of collected essays, addresses, and poems reflecting on the meaning of life. While many people in their 60s begin to withdraw from what they were previously involved in, Palmer continues to offer insight and wisdom as he approaches 80.
He draws readers in because he does not absent himself from human struggles. Palmer’s vocation and sense of calling are undiminished; he is as engaged in the whole of the human project, including politics, social issues, and relationships, as he was some 40 years ago.
Palmer draws from psychologist Eric Erikson’s idea of “generativity.” Palmer writes, “Generativity means turning toward the rising generation, offering whatever we know that they might find useful—and, even more important, learning from them.” And while there are those who lament the state of the younger generation, he celebrates their contribution with a generous openness to their ideas, which offer hope for the future. He encourages and lives the two-way blessing of intergenerational mentorships.
Palmer also joins other recent voices crying out for justice and systemic change in the United States, a country he loves and into which he knows he was privileged to be born.
This volume is not intended to be a guide to or a handbook on aging. Rather, it is a prismatic reflection on his own life experience, so much of which is universal and can encourage others on the journey.
Reading Palmer is a reminder to live fully and wholly through every season, because each day we awake again to life “on the brink of everything.” (Berrett-Koehler)