At What Age is Someone Old?
How to Thwart Age Invisibility

When Aging is a Good Thing

That headline, “When Aging is a Good Thing,” turned up earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal but hardly in a positive sense. Since the story is about aged beef at a certain Manhattan restaurant, the headline is a near perfect example of the subtle type of elder bias that pervades all media all the time.

It is the kind of prejudicial language that alternately enrages and depresses people like me, and that the legions of age deniers refuse to recognize as ageist.

Second-wind-coversmBSlow Down, Go Deeper, Get Connected
In his latest book Second Wind - subtitled Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life published this week, Dr. Bill Thomas defines age deniers this way:

”In its mildest form, Denialism provides us with the comforting illusion that we look and act a bit younger than we really are...

“The desire to be seen acting 'young' is also important to Denialism. The retiree who insists, 'I'm so busy I don't know how I ever had time to work,' is making it known that she remains part of the 'time-stressed' adult's frenzied world.”

In his book, Thomas makes an impassioned case for establishing elderhood as a distinct and separate period of life from fast-paced, go-go adulthood. He has touched on this in past books, particularly What are Old People For?, but in Next Wind, he makes it the centerpiece and explains why it is important.

[DISCLOSURE: Dr. Bill Thomas once wrote The TGB Geriatrician column for this blog. My blog posts are published at his ChangingAging website. And, I consider Bill a friend.]

For much of the first half of Second Wind, Thomas takes the reader through the development, beginning in early the 20th century, of the “cult of adulthood” - how it came to be.

”Virtues like success, efficiency, productivity, and individualism which had long been tempered by the competing values of shared sacrifice, trust, and cooperation, were released from almost all constraints.

“Those who objected to the installation of this hyperactive, hyperacquisitive, hypercaffeinated adulthood at the heart of American cultural experience were branded as deviants and heretics...

“The resulting cult of adulthood has been both extremely potent and largely invisible.”

Invisible it may be, but its force requires that we behave as adults until death and this is what both disturbs and galvanizes Bill Thomas.

Thomas divides the generation that is now facing the decision to reject or embrace elderhood into three categories. Those deniers (who “are always eager to look and act younger than they really are”) along with

”Realists [who] take a different approach. They are concerned primarily with creating and maintaining the feeling that aging is being deterred”

and the third cohort who

“...have the temerity to celebrate the normal changes associated with life beyond adulthood. These are the Enthusiasts.”

The enthusiasts, Thomas tells us, are the ones who are now or will become the pioneers of elderhood. A big part of it is to slow down, to reject the constant cultural imperative to do, and allow ourselves to be:

In order to develop fully, elders need access to a slow, deep connected way of living. The 'fast' life that suits adults so well interferes with the normal development of elders because it leads them to keep running a race that they can never win.”

Acknowledging that some readers may be disappointed that he has no specific recommendations for a search for life beyond adulthood, Thomas nevertheless covers a good deal of important territory – ageism, croning, living arrangements (including Villages among other good ideas) along with why we should not dress our children and grandchildren as witches on Halloween.

Mostly, however, Bill is right that there cannot be a blueprint. Inventing elderhood will be up to us - the elder enthusiasts and any of the deniers and realists we can convince to come with us.

Contrary to what that WSJ headline writer undoubtedly thought was clever irony, aging IS a good thing and this book is the latest in Dr. Bill Thomas's long-time efforts to make that real in our culture and our everyday lives.

Second Wind Tour
Between the end of this month and early June, in connection with his book, Bill Thomas will be leading a Second Wind Tour Live Event in 25 cities throughout the United States.

”The goal of the tour is to start a new conversation that reframes 'life after adulthood' as an exciting stage of human growth and development—a time for challenging received attitudes toward aging.”

As Bill explains in his online introduction to the tour:

”I felt we need a new, national conversation, one that includes many voices and differing points of view. And we needed to take this conversation directly to people where they live...

“I knew that powerpoint slide decks and hotel conference rooms were not going to cut it. I began to envision a mixed-arts performance in front of live audiences on a grand stage that would resonate with the power that only theater can wield.”

You will find tour cities and dates here along with lots of other information about the the Second Wind tour.

[UPDATE: To be eligible for the drawings for a book or tour tickets, you MUST leave a comment at the bottom of this page. You cannot enter by emailing me directly.]

And here is a deal especially for TGB readers. I have two books and two pairs of Second Wind Tour tickets to give away. All you need to do to be eligible is to say you want one or the other in the comments below.

You could write, “Count me in.” Or, “Me, me, me.” Or, “Yes, please, include me.” But you MUST ALSO include whether you are interested in the book or in the tour tickets. And you cannot ask for both in one comment.

Go to this page to see what dates the tour will be in or near your town. All venues are available except the first three – New York, Pittsburgh and Newark – which are sold out.

The contest will close tomorrow, Friday 14 March 2014, at midnight Pacific Daylight Time. The winners will be chosen in a random, electronic drawing and announced on this blog on Monday 17 March 2014. (Heh, I just realized that's St. Patrick's Day so we'll call it a celebration.)

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: What are the Odds?


Count me in on the drawing for the books. I'd lover to read them!

I had to laugh when I read the comment about retired people who say, "I'm so busy I don't know how I had time to work." My husband and I used to say it all the time and between helping out parents and building a second, "passion career" it was the busiest time in our lives.

I love this quote of his:"In order to develop fully, elders need access to a slow, deep connected way of living." That is exactly how I live now.

Hi Ronni - I would love to win tickets to the Tour!

I have not read the book but I wonder if the author even considered that instead of denialism it could simply be a matter of survivalism in today's youth oriented culture?
Having to work in an environment of 20 & 30 somethings, hired because of their lower wage demands, is not pleasant. Having to say yes (instead of screaming "are you kidding me?") and take on more and more work assignments because if you don't you probably will be replaced and have to say goodbye to your much needed paycheck is my definition of a Realist.
A Realist just wants a roof over their head and food in their stomach and if that means having a pretend "can do" attitude, so be it;denialism has nothing to do with it.

Please include me in the chance for the books. I am so interested in reading them. I am trying to find that spot right now where I don't have to feel guilty for getting older. It is not a widely accepted stage of life and I am interested in all opinions and information concerning it.

Suggesting that the Wall Street Journal headline is prejudice against old people may be a bit too harsh. After all we (old folks) have rarely presented ourselves as anything other than worn out, sick, needy, un-hip, technophobes who would rather wallow in our own wrinkled lives than "get with the scene". In addition, those of us who have tried to defer the ravages of aging by undergoing plastic surgery and hair transplants or even hair dye, are looked upon as just silly old fools. Therefore you cannot blame the young for their ageist ideology, we have done it to ourselves.

As always, you triggered a moment of reflections in my morning. I like the idea of now having the time to just "be." You also reminded me that I'm not only entering a new chapter, but also beginning endeavors that I had only daydreamed about when I was younger.

I'm definitely interested. I'd love to have the book.

Would love a copy of his book.

Unfortunately I am too late for the tour for NYC area.

Count me in on the tickets .

count me in for the tickets,please

As my husband always said about me, " I was born to retire"

I love this way of dabbling in life and moving toward new things as I come upon them without the pressure to succeed or achieve in the competitive work world.

Long live old age!!

I'd love to have a copy of the book.

Count me in for the book.

I would love to read the book, and would be happy to pass it along to someone else afterwards.

I'm not close to any of the tour cities, but would love to have the book.

How utterly refreshing to read 'elderhood as a distinct and separate period of life'. With those words I took a deep breath and relaxed.
Thank you.

Please put me fir the book - thanks!

I would love a ticket for the June tour in Boston. I am delighted to be part of the new face of aging and will value all the information from this exciting event!

Count me in for the tickets for the tour to Minneapolis on 5/9.

Count me in for the tickets. I am helping start a "Village" here in Petaluma and would love to go and take a friend to get inspiration for creating a thriving community for enjoying our older years!

I would love to have one of the books. And I will share it with friends who still feel the need to fill every moment with frenzy instead of Enthusiasm.

I'd love a copy of his books. thanks

Count me in on the tour tickets! Philly in June sounds wonderful!

Count me in! I'm attending the tour in Portland, OR. I would love a copy of his book to read and share with others.

Thanks for this very important post!

I would love to have the book and would give it to an elder friend who feels the need to fill every waking minute with being busy.

The tour goes to Phoenix in my state and I am unable to get there.

I would enjoy the book!

I am all over the tour opportunity: portland or seattle. i am re-establishing my geropractice in the "second half of aging" and this is right down my ally. oh please.....

before i get drawn to attend the one day event, i'd love to get the book read. Please put my name in the box.

Well, now I feel a little less guilty (and less selfish) for having slipped into a life of just being.

I have enjoyed Bill Thomas for several years, and have attended Eden Alternative training. I would be very happy to win a copy of his newest book!

I have great respect for Bill Thomas and am a follower of the Eden Alternative philosophy.
I would be thrilled to win tickets to the Los Angeles appearance on April 18. Thank you!

Yes, please, for the book.

Yes, please, count me in for the book.

Count me in on the contest for tickets to the tour.

I am really tired of people telling me they are so busy in retirement that they wonder how they had time to work. I'm glad they're doing what they want, but it sounds almost like a boast, and I hear it so often that it's definitely a cliche.

Please send me the book.

Thank you

"Ageing" or "Well-Aged" or "Age old" are really not digs at the old. And, though not in Denial , I definitely want to remain an adult till the end. His characterizations, and yours, seem to be a Catch-22. No matter how one thinks of oneself it always seems to be referred to as denial. By and large, the Seven Ages of Man seems to have got it right.

I'm "enthusiastic" about the tour!

Please count me in for the drawing for the books. Very interesting review. Enjoy your column so very much. Now that I am retired, when I joke about "I'm so busy I don't know how I had time to work"...I'm not saying I'm stressed, I am saying what a full and wonderful life I enjoy!

I would love a ticket to the Seattle event. So count me in. Thanks!!

The book, the book, please!

Count me in for the book, please -

Enthusiastic response to Bill Thomas tour .... prefer tickets. Seattle 1st choice; Portland 2nd choice!

I'd be very grateful to win one of the books. Thanks for offering, Ronni.

I'd love to win a book! Thanks for holding the drawing.

I'd love a book too!

Thank you,Ronni, for your great blog! I would love to win one of the books.

Thank you for this giveaway ... I would be interested in the book! Mary Ann

Consider me an enthusiast. And I run out of time because I do things much slower than I used to. And I love it. I would be very grateful to win one of your books.

Thanks Ronnie...I always love to read your blogs...and I'd appreciate the chance to win a book.

A chance for the book, please.

It would be nice to get tickets to the tour for Minneapolis and bring a friend.

Count me in for the book drawing. Thank you so much!

Count me in for the book drawing, too!

I would LOVE to win this book, please. Count me in. :-)

At 73 I am auditing a college class. All the joy if learning without the stress of grades. More books to read! Bring them on.

I would like to go to Boston in June and I will stay with my friend and maybe we can both win tickets and go to the event together!!
Thank you Ronni.

I would love tickets for Portland.

Aging is good -- when you consider the alternative!

Count me in. I'd love to win a book, it's one I want to read and I know if I don't win this drawing I will purchase the book. The excerpts are so right on I want to read more.

Yes....Yes...Yes....I would love to win a copy of the book. Wouldn't this make a grand book for a book club discussion?????

Thanks for the opportunity

Would like a copy of the book.

Already have the book. Just started reading it. Excellent so far. Would love the tix.

Count me in too! I would love to go to the tour.

Count me in on the giveaway for the book!

Count me in.

For the book, please.

I'm a recovering fast-lifer and need all the support I can get to keep on track! Please count me in for the tour drawing. Thanks so much for your inspiring messages.

I would appreciate a copy of the book.
Thank you for the offer.

I have always believed everyday above ground is a wonderful day and age has nothing to do with this rebel yell!!! I would like a copy of your book. Thank you in advance.

Yes, please enter my name for the Bill Thomas book.
Thank you.
Mrs. Cunningham

I live in a continuing care community in Washington state and I would love to share some of Dr. Thomas' ideas regarding aging respectfully (perhaps that is my word but I like it).
I am anxious to attend the Second Wind tour. Please let me know how to access tickets.

I am interested in being in the drawing for the books.


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