Census trends show that we are steadily changing to a world populated – at least for a brief cycle of history – with many millions more people who are older. Rather than seeing this as a set of problems, as some are wont to do, we might well recognize that this also represents a potential blessing of the elders.
One can become old simply by surviving the passage of years. But an elder is someone who has earned authority and respect by virtue of advanced age, experience, integrity, and understanding. As history shows, for their families and for societies, elders can be, and frequently have been, profoundly steadying and enriching influences.
Not everyone who becomes old also becomes an elder. But some do, and many more could. In our era of raucous cultural transition, the world could benefit enormously from such a development. Young people who may feel confused about or disappointed in the world and their place in it, could especially benefit.
True elders are people who have gracefully accepted the passage of time, integrated their life experience with understanding, and made the fruit of their long experience available to others. But how does one do this? How does one become a true elder?
That question has long engaged my interest. Out of my inquiry into the subject came one of my Soul*Sparks gift books, Teach Us to Number Our Days: Keys for Adept Aging. It’s a concise compilation of insights that a great number of experienced elders have shared from antiquity on up to the present. My hope has always been that this little gift book would be a welcome and helpful companion for elders, as well as for people who are becoming elders – a category that includes all of us.
Through the centuries many perceptive elders have expressed their understandings about aging, and about the parallel ennobling quest for wisdom and understanding. With appreciation for this reservoir of knowledge, I assembled this slender compilation of thoughts, feelings, and insights from wisdom leaders around the world. The book is smooth, deep, straightforward, and readily serves as a basis for contemplation and enrichment. I feel that Teach Us to Number Our Days is a small treasure, a meaningful gift for elders, as well as for family and friends who are advancing in age.
As Lesley Jones wrote in Readers’ Favorite: “This book is a real soul-searching piece of writing. I loved the concept and this would make a fantastic gift to any older family members.”
I’m pleased to offer readers an engaging compilation of keys for adept aging. It’s not my wisdom, per se, but rather the wisdom of the ages gathered and curated in an easy-to-read, and poetic form. Teach Us to Number Our Days is now available in both print and ebook editions.
Throughout history most successful and long-lived civilizations have held a place of respect for elders, and benefited from their life wisdom. By and large this tradition is missing today, to the detriment not only of elders but also of society.
Each moment, each day, each one of us grows older. Thanks to medical advances and wide emphasis on personal fitness, most people will live long enough to be considered old. The average life span has, in fact, been steadily increasing since the dawn of the Twentieth Century, and this trend will likely continue in the Twenty-first Century.
This reality raises some critical questions: What is the purpose of a long life? What can and should older people do with their extended years? What roles do older people have in modern societies?
As far back as five millennia ago the Greeks knew a basic life lesson that remains relevant today. Socrates put it succinctly: “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
With that foundational understanding in mind, and after a career of interviewing learned and insightful elders, I assembled an eBook of quotations, from all times and all cultures: Teach Us to Number Our Days. My intention was to inspire readers to reflect on how we might most wisely journey through advanced maturity.
I learned a lot putting this eBook together, and feel privileged to share it.
Age is very mysterious because the essence of the human being – the soul – actually never ages. It’s only the outer covering of the individual that changes.” ~ Beatrice Wood
With pleasure, I announce the publication through Soul*Sparks Books of Teach Us to Number Our Days: A Compilation of Keys for Adept Aging (2nd ed.).
Throughout history most successful and long-lived civilizations have held a place of respect for elders, and have benefited from their life wisdom. By and large this tradition is missing today, to the detriment not only of elders but also of society.
True elders are people who have gracefully accepted the passage of time, integrated their life experience with deep understanding, and made the fruit of their long experience available to others. But how does one do this? How does one become a true elder?
This elegant compilation – a book drawing on the wisdom of all cultures and all times – offers keys from wisdom keepers around the world, from all traditions, and from all eras of history.
“Clearly not everyone who becomes old also becomes an elder. But some do, and many more could…True elders are people who have gracefully accepted the passage of time, integrated their life experience with deep understanding, and made the fruit of their long experience available to others,” writes author and editor Steven McFadden.
As reviewers have commented, this book is a “salutary collection of quotations which put the accent on the positive aspects of conscious aging and sharing wisdom with the world.”
The book is available now from Smashwords in 10 different ebook formats, and can be read on any ebook reader or digital device, including tablets, smartphones, and computers. Just select the format that works for you. It is also now available for Kindle readers from Amazon.com and will soon be available in the Apple ibook store and through other major retailers.
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Teach Us to Number our Days (2nd ed.)
Throughout history most successful and long-lived civilizations have held a place of respect for elders, and have benefited from their life wisdom. By and large this tradition is missing today, to the detriment not only of elders but also of society…
True elders are people who have gracefully accepted the passage of time, integrated their life experience with deep understanding, and made the fruit of their long experience available to others.
But how does one do this? How does one become a true elder? As the title of this book echoes, the Biblical figure named Job offers a starting point that is both specific and somewhat enigmatic: “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom…”
“Only through the rhythmic swing of the pendulum between wisdom and love, not sleepy rest, will the future be rightly formed.” – Rudolf Steiner
“In later life one sometimes has the feeling of going into a large church and seeing a shaft of light coming down. That shaft of light, perhaps, comes in the period of life between 65 and 70. A lot of people have walked through that shaft of light…But remember, it is the shaft that makes the person, it isn’t the person that makes the shaft.” – John H. Finley, Jr.
Publisher of the 2nd ed.: Soul*Sparks Books (2014)
Available now in 10 different ebook formats from Smashwords.
Taking inspiration from John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning Profiles in Courage, Steven McFadden presents the stories and thinking of 17 Native American spiritual elders in this widely acclaimed book.
As our existing culture shifts, what to the ancient ones who have been trained in the sacred Traditions of Turtle Island (North America) have to say to us? With this question and others, journalist McFadden begins his quest to speak with contemporary Native American elders. The elders offer penetrating and poetic insight on a host of crucial matters.
This bestselling book has recently been updated, to tell the stories and share the observations of the elders 10 years after the original date of publication.
Here’s a brief excerpt from Profiles in Wisdom:
In 1983, after three days and nights of praying and fasting on a mountaintop, I snapped a twig with my fingers and had a revelation. I saw that my simple action had changed the world, and that it would never be the same again. I could never put that twig back together the way it had been. This was a small change, but an important change nonetheless.
As the sound of the snap reverberated within my mind, I understood how everything I said and did changed the world. What came with the snapping twig was not an abstract idea or a philosophical insight, but a living experience of how all my actions influence creation. Since then, the lesson of this experience has guided my life in a world where, until recently, it seemed as if most people were oblivious to the way their lives inflict deep wounds upon the Earth, the air, and the water…
Praise for Profiles in Wisdom:
“Profiles in Wisdom does a fine job not only of presenting the dignity, complexity, and wit of important Indian philosophers and religious leaders, but also of issuing cautions agains easy uplift and wisdom injections…There are some stirring and unexpected powers unleashed in this book.” – New York Times Book Review
“This wise and provocative collection is highly recommended.” – Library Journal
“Our leaders should sit and listen to the counsel Steven McFadden has gathered in this book.” – John Elvin, The Washington Times