It seems that, in some ways, it is getting harder to make “sense” out of the world. The news from around the world seems to indicate that we seem to be spinning out of control. Then we hear of the tragic circumstances surrounding Robin Williams and we wonder again about the nature of things and the demons that roam within us. It is enough to bring us up short and cause us to try and consider what is of importance to each of us; what really matters. We got into this discussion this past week on my radio show, Boomer Generation Radio. A psychologist and life coach, Dr Michael Freidman was joined by Mr Dan Klein, who authored a book on trying to find how best to live one’s life as we age. The initial discussion started around a NYTimes blog on the sad fact that we are seeing a rise in baby boomer and older men committing suicide. Depression was cited as a main cause. The discussion, however, moved beyond that and began to focus on the need, especially as we age, for social contacts, relationships and an ability to achieve and celebrate a sense of gratitude. One of the more interesting aspects of the discussion was raised by Freidman, who is also a life coach and who deals with many Boomers and Boomer men who are in some state of transition. Freidman discussed the fact that it seems to be harder for men to deal with life transitions and more challenging for men to embrace extended social relationships; both of which can lead to a sense of isolation. Work is often, for us, identity and if that goes we begin to ask “do we go away as well?”
The challenge of being alone, feeling isolated and cut off, spiritually and socially, is a powerful force. Mr. Klein added that he found that his life struggles taught him that it became therapeutic to “let go” of issues that were not allowing him to live and that living in the day became a helpful way of celebrating each new chance at life. In the end, Klein stated that the most powerful aspects of life were family and friends. In the end, that is what matters. The lessons from these two men seem clear. Be grateful, live in the day and for the day, seek and nurture relationships. Not simple, we know. But, a good place to start thinking about navigating the next stage of life.
Dr Freidman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr Klein just published a book on how to live a satisfying life called “Travels With Epicurus” which is available on Amazon.
Look for pod-cast of the show in a few days on this site.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min