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Another Chapter, Another Adventure

In this week’s JOURNAL, Bill Moyers conversed with sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot about her book, THE THIRD CHAPTER: PASSION, RISK, AND ADVENTURE IN THE 25 YEARS AFTER 50, which explores the challenges and exciting opportunities for people in that age range.

Lawrence-Lightfoot said:

“All of us, at this point, to some degree are on a search for meaningfulness, for purposefulness, and we want to find what this next 25 years – the penultimate chapter of our life – is going to be about. We’re ready for something new, for a new experience, for a new adventure... My favorite thing about this period is restraint – how wonderful it is to know a little more about when not to talk, when not to move forward, when it’s best to listen and sit back, when it’s best to just witness and observe. That kind of slowness of pace offers us the opportunity to see things newly, to discover things that we hadn’t seen before, to see the small incremental steps rather than expect the large leaps forward.”

What do you think?

Whatever your age, have you lived chapters of "change, growth and new learning"? Tell us about your experience.


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Our lives have been enriched by opportunities that would have been viewed as challenges and opportunities never thought of in previous generation.
Changing careers, job sharing, telecommuting and freelancing are awesome benefits of becoming of(a meaningful)age.

Our lives have been enriched by opportunities that would have been viewed as challenges and opportunities never thought of in previous generation.
Changing careers, job sharing, telecommuting and freelancing are awesome benefits of becoming of(a meaningful)age.

My wife and I found this interview tremendously reassuring and reinforcing. After a career in higher education, now in our early 70's, we are teaching at a University just outside Kyoto, Japan. Out students are both local Japanese and from countries the world over. Our curiosity has never been greater, the inter-generational exchange keeps us vital, and the adventure of discovering one of the world's great cities is thrilling. However, the richness of this third chapter makes looking to the fourth chapter daunting. We talk often about how we can nurture the vitality we now feel. This requires, I think, a tremendous amount of trust in ourselves and in life. But so far, so good!

eClaire: Have you experienced those people who claim to have experienced the same pains and disabilities as you (to a lesser and more transient extent), and therefore "understand" your situation completely? I used to get mad and try to object. Now I get a laugh from "pseudo-empathy," especially when it comes from "professionals" who should have learned better long ago. As one can surmise from your account, most people are weak and dissolute. Disability ferrets out the valiant few who step up through action. Today, I would not be alive except for those renegades, able to lose account of money and time to participate in others' struggles. All of us are disabled in several ways, and many share the same problems. Treating common challenges as remote or unusual is killing our society.

Mental laziness and propaganda join with anxiety to produce inaction. A college girl the other day explained to me that "single payer" means that young unmarrieds pay the health costs of oldsters. She said they taught this in economics class. (Well maybe?) Her's is an example of drawing an easy and comfortable conclusion. She will not be healthy and 21 forever. Her intellect already exhibits progressing disability.

At 53, I am very much enjoying the new sense of restraint that I feel. I spent my entire working life trying to pay it forward, and practiced witnessing, observing, speaking without fear, and even, yes, some restraint in my various roles as crisis counselor, attorney, and mediator. However, at age 48 I was thrust into what is perhaps the epilogue of life via total disability, and it is through this lense that I have practiced my new relationship with restraint.

Facing total disability brought me face to face with Professor Lightfoot's fear of isolation and loneliness. People do not just disappear from our lives because they die as we age. As we become more infirm, less able to cut a figure on the dance floor, make a foursome for bridge, attend church (or whatever), or even go out for a simple meal, people melt away from our lives, particularly when we have a disabling chronic illness--one where we are not expected to recover and also not die quickly. That is, we do not die quickly enough to put our friends out of the misery of having a disabled friend. I say what I say having come to know plenty of intelligent, bodacious, fabulous, and funny women who could move mountains if they were not so sick that most of their energies were not focused on staying alive. Most everyone I know who is chronically ill has seen nearly everyone who was dear to them slip away. Slip away from one-time friends presumeably out of fear of their own mortality (e.g., aging, disability, and death), fear that their friend would no longer be interesting or interested in life, etc.

My experience has been like that of my new friends--friends found through online groups of disabled people. Most every one I know has lost most if not all of their friends. One friend says she will only make friends with disabled people now. (Indeed, there are few people who want to make friends with disabled people and so her desire to cut healthy people out of her life offers some psychological protection.) Finally, after so much loss, I lost my partner. After trying to come up with some feeble excuses as to why we were not meant to be, I was told by my partner that I was being left because of my disability (e.g., the tub assist and wheel chair made her feel old, my sunhat and fitover sun glasses called attention to me in public--"Don't look now, but there's a sick, weird old person among you," etc.). She had wallowed in what was lost (e.g., loss of income, loss of the big house, loss of status, the rejection of friends, etc.) while I had moved on and was forging a new life that included disability.

Despite this advancing isolation, I was blessed with a couple of friends--barely friends when I became disabled--who did not drop me. They did not make up for the lost friends, as I had never clued them in about all of the social losses I was experiencing--at least not until my partner left. At that point, they rallied to my side and our friendships have blossomed. That God for peopel who are able to look past disability and see the person within.

One of these friends and his son moved in with me to provide me with some necessary daily living care. In my new life, I am getting an opportunity to listen my friend's two teenage children and to practice my growing sense of restraint (oh the wonder of what we learn about ourselves as we age). Right now, disability and all, my life is as fun as it has ever been.

Currently, I am part of a cohort of people using an experimental protocol to cure our chronic illnesses and after 2.5 years I can finally see that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel. I think there is a very good chance that by the time I am 57 or 58 I will be fully functional and perhaps healthier than most people at that age. (I've already bought my suitcases for the wellness vacation I am planning.) When well, I will have to get creative to find a way to fund not only my 3rd chapter but my epilogue years, as my retirement was lost to illness related issues.

I look forward to being well and stumbling into my future, as I no longer have a need to have a route all planned (not that those plans ever quite turned out like I planned) and age has taught me to have faith that my stumbling will bring opportunities for me to continue to contribute to life.

Having had to live through the loss of friends, I write today as much to wake people up generally to whatever it is that might cause them to slip out of the lives of people they call friends when the friend falls into chronic illness.

If you find yourself musing that the friend brought the illness on him or herself or that the illness is all in your friend's head as a means to excuse yourself from any obligation you might have felt to be there for your friend, then this note is for you. Snap out of it; your mother raised you better; you wouldn't want to be treated this way yourself. Create the world you want to be a part of.

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The Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot interview came at just the right time for me. At the age of 46 I decided that I was going to pursue filmmaking. I had recovered from a long illness in which I did much soul searching and was losing interest in my career as a Web editor in a large financial institution. This met with some skepticism from my older friends - filmmaking is a young person's game.

Meaningless corporate drivel occupied my days and writing, planning, filming, editing and marketing my short films filled the rest of my time. I am never happier than I am on a film set watching talented actors and actresses say my words and be the people I have invented.

One of the most joyous experiences I had was when my short film two julias was an official selection at the ReelHeART International Film Festival in Toronto in June 2008. We even won a couple of awards - just icing on the cake. While we were at the festival, my employer called me to let me know I was being laid off.

Now fast approaching 52 and still not breaking even on my film productions, I have struggled to find my way. Unable to find other 'day job' employment, I took a leap of faith to go ahead with the planned production of my short environmentally themed scifi script Greenspoke. I'm thrilled with the final product and glad I didn't let my fears shut me down.

Another thing I have done in that time is to create a nonprofit film studio called Smiling Z Studios. I found in my own experiences acting in short and very low budget feature film productions that the expectation was that cast and crew should work for free and be happy to have the work. This didn't seem right to me, so for two julias and Greenspoke everyone got paid. This made everyone involved feel more a part of the production. More importantly, it also acknowledges that their creative and technical skills have value. And my skills and interests have value as well!

Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot's interview made me realize that I am not alone and that many others are out there pursuing a new life at this time. Her comments about cross-generational interaction resonated with me - I have met many wonderful, interesting, talented young people and am the better for it. I hope they are too.

I put many of my feelings about this transition into my award-winning feature screenplay The Smiling Zombie. Though not autobiography, it does touch on many of fears and revelations I had coming out of my illness. It chronicles the story of a musical theatre performer with multiple sclerosis who tries to stage a comeback during a period of remission with a featured extra role in a no-budget zombie movie. We are currently fundraising for this project through the nonprofit studio and hope to start production late this year and early into 2010.

It is scary and thrilling time and I can't think of any better way to spend these years. Thank you for the timely interview!

WHEN ARE EDUCATED PEOPLE GOING TO REALIZE THAT this is not the problem. the problem is YOU! yes, it's us. it's our intrinsic nature to do WRONG and our societal conditioned brainwashed desire for GREED! that's the problem. top executives steal, or find ways to make money out of little "white lies" that turn into millions of proffit for them and for their shareholders; and even the middle class steal and finds ways to get more money too! Hey, if my job allows me to charge 3 percent in commission when i do a customers mortgage loan, you bet i'm going to get my 3 percent commission!! well, not really 3, i'll end up splitting it with the bank. So, that's the kind of mentality that's even worse than 700 billion bail-outs! Maybe it's a byproduct of our oppressed and individualistic society, maybe there are way too many republican-like mentalities out there, or maybe we should end social stratification? can someone explain to me why is a state as big and filthy rich and materialistic as CALIFORNIA in debt?!! what happened to the 8.25% on consumer purchases? it's all gone??? what? So, if we don't change our attitudes with ourselves, with our forests, on the freeway, on our education, on our wives, etc etc...it will always continue to happen! NEVERMIND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS. there are HUMANE CRISES happening all the time!! fix that, and we won't have to keep pushing our internal defecit!

Thank you for "Another Chapter, Another Life." Though I concur that life after fifty has brought greater discretion, it has also been accompanied by much greater clarity, determination and urgency not to defer out of fear of the future or any sense of futility regarding efforts. At fifty-four I ditched the security of a job with great benefits and a pension because I saw so many of my nurse-colleagues falling victim to the hidden trap of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Four months later, my book "Unbecoming A Nurse" was released and though I miss my discretionary money, I will never regret seizing the moment for ALL it was worth. In an age when monetary stockpiles and careers of longstanding evaporate before our eyes in a blink, we must focus on our resource of allotted time, the only economy that truly matters. Paula Davies Scimeca, RN, MS

I believe I already responded but that appears to have been lost. so, please forgive me if this is a repetition. On completing graduate work in UCLA after a decade in architectural practice, I was invited to stay on and teach the focus of my studies. Between graduation and my first quarter of teaching, I was appointed a NASA Summer faculty Fellow to investigate the application of NASA technology to the design and production of housing. Like my studies, it turned out to be an investigation of what NOT to do to achieve that objective. At that point I was invited to consult to and then become a member of the JPL-CALTECH Environmental Quality Lab Solar Energy Team. Initially I thought, well, perhaps I can learn what can be done with this new technology. That was in 1973. Two weeks after I joined the team, the first oil embargo hit and what had become an academic curiosity became a lifelong commmitment. Now, it is the 2nd year out of 37 that I have not had the opportunity to learn from several generations of students that came to study with us at UCLA over those years. However, I have more recently experienced what few of my colleagues have had the opportunity to do; commericalize a technology I once helped to develop. In the process, I have been an officer in one solar manufacturing firm, one OEM, one national solar distributor, and three successive startup solar systems integration and installation firms...an currently am Director of Sodar and Strategic Technologies for FTL Solar LLC in Manhattan, with offices in Austin and here in Los Angeles. Yet, in the eighties I could not give it away (thank goodness for a modest academic salary and equally modest architectural practice at the time)... up to about a year ago, could not get enough of solar photovoltaic technology to put into place and now... due to an unfortunate combination of over production and an industry so severely impacted by the recession that we cannot get financed the exciting projects we have, much less financing operating capital.. resulting in many missed paydays. But I am able to work in our Manhattan office and live in an apartment in Edgewater, NJ across the river from the Upper Westside that my wonderful wife and daughter found for me, and to live here with them when they aren't there visiting with me and/or I am working here or in Austin. And that is my point. Now at 72, I can honestly say that I have never failed to be excited about what I have and am having the opportunity to participate in. It would appear to differ from Ms. Lightfoot's Change in the Third Chapter... but after almost 40 years chasing the development and commercialization of renewable energy technology..it has never been boring.. rather it has been a on-going experience in constant evolution AND discovery. I like to paraphrase Denzil Washington in "Remember the Titains"... to whit: This is MY time! So I look forward to reading Ms. Lightfoot's Third Chapter.. while continuing to live it. Thank you Ms. Lightfoot and thank you Bill Moyers for continuing to make television the best communications vehicle it can be. -- Richard Schoen

I turned 50 next month. Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot's interview provided me with a framework for moving forward with zest and vitality, rather than doubt and fear. Inspiring, thought provoking. Thanks a million and one.

The "pursuit of happiness" seems an insufficient reason to remain alive in these times of "terminal civilization." Lucky people pretending everything is or will be OK is not my idea of a good time. Rather than an over-consuming and generally unconcerned US citizen assuming they've earned an award for living so long they should consider what their frivolous existence has done to many other people, just as human as they are, in the populations our government and corporations exploit and dominate. As for me, I'm trying to relent in my late middle age, and would be ready to pass away to save others suffering. As it is, this gravy train will soon run off the end of its tracks.

This is the other side of Bill and his intellectual friends: happy unconcern, expectations of entitlement: maybe another conservative half-truth. Sell them books!

I'm a firm believer that age is just a number. And as long as we're on this planet as physical beings we have a Divine purpose ordered by God. I do believe that inactivity on both the physical and mental level is the enemy of longevity. Today I am battling a strand of gray hair that I know I should embrace. After listening to Professor Lightfoot's interview, and reading the response posts on this blog, I am encouraged to know that any chapter of life is what you make of it. God-given opportunities abound. It's denouncing the demons of fear and insecurity that grace us with the courage to walk through doors that are awaiting us to open. I hope to make this book a part of one of my reading assignments for my first semester as a grad student studying marriage and family counseling. I hope, too, to spend a summer semester at Harvard under Dr. Lightfoot's tutelage. Dream large! Then pray for God to do with the dream what He pleases.

I found Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's message to be thought provoking and inspiring! It also aligns and reinforces Marc Freedman's work with Civic Ventures and his book Encore Careers.

I am 9 years into the Third Chapter of my life. My path has been a long and winding road. It has enabled me to make a difference in many ways big and small. I am still learning and discovering new adventures.

I am remended of airplane magazine article I read about Tony Bennett. He was asked about life's greatest lessons/insights during his +80 years. He referred to a conversation that he had a number of years ago with Pablo Casals. Casal's told him, "you can learn from anyone at anytime". Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's thoughts and words reinforced Casal's observation. Thank you for your good work.

Good luck to those who follow Ms.Lightfoot in chasing the illusions of the ego into their last chapter. They will unfortunately find that pleasures still fade, those we love die and vanish, and we continue to lose all that we love. Ms. Lightfoot preaches silliness in the face of biological reality in which only a select few are allowed to even contemplete continuing their enterprise into the last years of life. They should instead seek understanding the source and nature of our suffering. That enterprise is open to all, just sit, close your eyes and quit trying to defeat time.

Thank you Bill for another great interview. As the chairman of an online service provider that serves as a virtual community for caregivers for the terminally ill, I share the sentiments of Sara Lawerence-Lightfoot when she speaks of the certainty of friends who die. As we reach the 3rd chapter many of us feel diminished, disillusioned, and feels that no one listens to us. I was encouraged to hear how the people interviewed in the book were liberated and set free to reach inside and bring out those last enduring creative and meaningful desires of the heart. I hope we ‘3rd chapters’ will be looked on as people with honor and high integrity.

You may or may not remember me. In 1995,my poem was chosen for a reading in Bryant Park. I was the one in the wheelchair. I love the fact that you are still
celebrating poets and poetry.
I recently had surgery for a twisted colon,I have an enlarged prostate and bladder. I'm just giving you the facts. Not looking for sympathy,maybe empathy,but not sympathy. God is good all the time,and all the time God is good.
I am still writing poetry. I have branched out to a play. But thank you for giving my work it's greatest
exposure and if you would like to see a sample or if you know of a good poetry publisher;I was my own editor,and it might only be
considered a chapbook. But if it God's will, I will put
together another collection.
P.S. If you have a copy of my performance at Bryant Park on June 20.1995.
Thank you for everything.
Charles W. Artis

I do not understand how one can mash Meaningfulness/Purposfulness for both men and women in the same mortar.

How can Meaningfulness/Purposfulness have any value without sex

Listening to Sara Lawrence Lightfoot speak of this new chapter in my life was joyous. My struggle is not with finding my love which is writing. I am having success in following my bliss on a state level, and was one of 4 Nebraska poets in a NET program with then U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. My struggle is how to follow my bliss and survive monetarily. Working at my 8-5 job in social work takes my energy that could be used for writing. Do I move to a more creative area to be around other poets, have more opportunites to learn and grow, which means I would have to give up the security of my house that will be paid off by the time I retire. I don't want to live my penultimate years being too careful and missing the what ifs, but I owe 2 years on my car, and 15 years on my house. I'm 53 years old. I want exploration, and excitement, and growth and I'm scared of being a poor old lady. I'll have a small monthly retirement check. And don't want to work till death to pay my rent if I move. BUT... Just need to kick off the ruby slippers and follow my bliss?

Regarding Sen. Durbin's remarks (as well as those of many of your recent guests), I am disappointed that so many critics of financial institutions and reckless investors rarely put names and faces to the people who committed fraud ("NINJA" mortgages, etc). Even when you, Mr. Moyers, questioned Dick Durbin, all of his instincts are (as they always have been) to 'be politic,' and NOT name names, but (merely) refer to faceless entities that made bad decisions....
Until people in power are courageous enough to name names of decision-makers at the bond-rating houses, investment houses, at banks, at the SEC and IN CONGRESS, the lobbies will continue to rule the roost.
WE WANT NAMES!!! NO PUSSY-FOOTING AROUND THE ISSUE, PLEASE.

Thank you Mr. Moyers for letting Dick Durbin speak about one of the strongest lobbyists-the banking industry. I have stressed to you in the past, the importance of campaign finance reform and media reform so it's great you're bringing attention to one of the critical problems.

How about a segment on the New York Times journalist who blew the whistle on generals with military industry connections talking to the media-a great lead in to media reform.

How about mentioning the 2 individuals who gave state secrets to Israel and have just been told that they won't be prosecuted-a great lead in to possibly the most powerful lobby in Washington-AIPAC.

You have the power to save this country. Please use it fully. Tonight was a good start. Peace, John

(This, I posted on another internet forum):

I watched the Bill Moyer's Journal on PBS the other day, and his guest was Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. She's a Harvard professor who just wrote a book entitled, The Third Chapter, dealing with our lives past the age of 60. I wanted to jump up and down on the bed as I listened to her. I agreed wholly with what she was talking about. She has interviewed a lot of folks of this age, and found that the happiest ones never 'retire', but use the opportunity to find something that inspires our passion, gives us challenge and renews our adventure with life.

Just what I'd been thinking. I have had it so easy for so long in my little business, that I've have very very little challenge. The isolated moments of adventure have been fleeting, but memorable. And my only real passion has been the weeks of camp where I stayed and lived with handicapped kids like my Down Syndrome son, Kit. (You know where I'm going with this...) So, as I think about an offer to run a handicapped residence in Idaho, I realize what it represents to me, really. I know I'll be overwhelmed with passion, and I trust that Idaho will provide adventure. And, somehow I just know the job will be a challenge. I do hope it works out, but I think I've crossed a threshold anyway. I have been clinging to my little secure business, even though I'm totally burned out (comes from boredom, not overwork) and been afraid to just walk away, even though I can. Now, I think I could consider moving anywhere without regret of leaving the last remaining roots on the Texas coast. Now, I could even try poutine! (well, maybe...)

Anyway, this all ties in with a conversation I had with my older brother the other day as well. He's 67 now, and was lamenting how much of the medical programs for seniors are being stripped in Washington. I told him about another Bill Moyer's program I had seen some weeks ago. The guest that day was the author of the HBO series 'The Wire'. I had never watched it, but it dealt with the innercity problem of drugs and gang culture. The guy was a crime reporter for years in Chicago (I think) and knew the scenario from the inside out - good guys and bad guys and 'innocent bystanders' who were trapped in their situations. I wasn't following too closely, but suddenly Moyers asked, "Why do we as a society allow this problem to persist?" The answer is what shocked me into listening. The writer said, "Because we don't NEED them." We are not, have not, will not, take the steps necessary to fix the problem of the innercity poor, because we as a society don't need them.

Wow, that cut to the chase! Then, in my discussion with my brother, I realized that he and I both, were standing on that very precipice, looking into the canyon of not being needed. At his age (or mine), with minor health problems, an aging education and no clear understanding of proper business clothing fashions, we were on the brink of admitting that society no longer needs us. It is any wonder that senior care programs are beginning to take an economic back seat? America is a young culture today. Aside from the occasional Viagra commercial, most of us gray hairs are simply invisible. And, to be honest, I kinda liked that idea. Just give me a discount at the buffet, and I'll forgive you for not actually seeing me and tootle off into the sunset. Well, to hell with that!

I've still got things I want to do. I've still got ideas and experiences and .... time! But first, I've got to realize that being 60 today, doesn't mean an open door anymore than it did when I was 20. I have to rely on me. I have to use what I've got, and that's a bit more than I had at 20, too. I can find the challenge, the adventure, the passion. But, I have to do it. I. And I can; I will; I must.

So, if there's a little more silver in your mane these days, just don't get to thinking that you are on the edge of the precipice.

I'd go into this more, but it's time for my POWER NAP!


In my third chapter, I have finished a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, began a private practice, have an intimate attachment that is in some ways deeper (and more exciting) than any previous one in my life, began a postdoctoral program in psychoanalysis, started my own analysis, etc. I find myself changing more in the past few years than at any other time in my life, which may be the biggest surprise of all. Acceptance of the everyday, its mystery as great as that of the exotic, aids in my making these changes. What Joseph Campbell says resonates for me. He emphasize, not the meaning of life, “but the experience of being alive.”
What's next? We'll see

The interview with Sarah-Lawrence Lighthouse was inspiring and captivating. Her observations about the inquiring mind captures the healthy mind what true leadership is all about. The willingness to listen to others, to be open to persuasion, to invite others into our conversations lay the foundations for an ethical and healthy democracy.

Thank you for inviting us into this most wonderful conversation.

PBS is always my favorite TV channel. Bill Moyers Journal is espeically one of my favorite shows. No matther what subjects, it is always so in-depth and very intellectually. I was very focused on listening the conversation between Bill and Sara. It is so spiritual and full of wisdom. I could not wait to get on the website and saved it onto my Spiritual Web Folder as I'd love to share with others. Of course, I ordered the book as I'd like to learn more of it. Thank you for providing such a good quality program. You are teaching us to be a better human being and cultivate our spirit to a higher level.

Lawrence LightFoote's validation of my life Journey was nice.
When she spoke of the 40 interviewees that 'turned up to the juice' but when she mentioned the person intersted in working with Iraq and Afghan veterans she tuned to my frequency.
Encourage the person (Pamela Stein?) to look at S801 sponsored Senator Daniel Akaka, HI, head of the Veterans Affairs subcommittee; this legislation seems like a great initiative; might even make a good story for Bill Moyer's Journal.
The implication for veterans is large; if the process is fine tuned with this population it has larger potential for health care cost containment in selected other areas.

Since I am dealing with these issues of aging and claiming my progress and my wisdom, I was pleased when I saw that she was on the show. I tried hard to find something innovative or even helpful to me. But I could not. Another book on aging babyboomers and negotiating stages of life. Although I think that the issue is important, her message was uninspiring.

Bill, you are my hero.

Lawrence LightFoote's validation of my life Journey was nice.
When she spoke of the 40 interviewees that 'turned up to the juice' but when she mentioned the person intersted in working with Iraq and Afghan veterans she tuned to my frequency.
Encourage the person (Pamela Stein?) to look at S801 sponsored Senator Daniel Akaka, HI, head of the Veterans Affairs subcommittee; this legislation seems like a great initiative; might even make a good story for Bill Moyer's Journal.
The implication for veterans is large; if the process is fine tuned with this population it has larger potential for health care cost containment in selected other areas.

Lawrence LightFoote's validation of my life Journey was nice.
When she spoke of the 40 interviewees that turned up to the juice but when she mentioned the person intersted in working with Iraq and Afghan veterans she tuned to my frequency.
Encourege the person (Pamela Stein?) to look at S801 sponsored Senator Daniel Akaka, HI, head of the Veterans Affairs subcommittee; this legislation seems like a great initiative; might even make a good story for Bill Moyer's Journal.
The implication for veterans is large; if the process is fine tuned with this population it has larger potential for health care cost containment in selected other areas.

The segment with Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot was simply wonderful. She is an inspiring and uplifting person. I am 60 and was particularly interested in what she had to say about the ability at this time to reevaluate one's life.

Since I "retired" due to post polio issues I am particuarly attuned to attempting after working for 30 years to somehow reintroduce value and meaning into my life. There has been much sadness for me as a feeling of purposelessness often overcame me.

I began to write and post commentary on my blog. It has been the most interesting thing I have done in years. Sometimes fate works in mysterious ways or MORE importantly we can make fate work FOR us. I loved Professor Lightfoot and I always love Bill Moyers.

Lawrence-Lightfoot is wonderful, one of those totally insightful and warm souls you have a way of finding. She reminded me so much of Sarah Chase, very similar voice tone and that deep understanding that you see in both their faces.

It was coming - the "surprise" birthday party for the big one - 50.

The culture, the rules, the solved problems that did not create new problems - all that had been slipping away as my life's work was being re-examined by a new set of rules.

I typed in google - world population - and pick your year in the 1950s. Now type in the world population.

It is definitely not the same world - not the same air, water, food, culture, music, architecture, etc. - that I was born into. And the relevancy of ANY generation that has identified a common goal and willing to take action upon the goal is ever being shortened - to what, a year or even less?

We are looking at a prolonged "survivor" mode (and I am not talking about that TV show that is called "Survival" and their made-up games - I'm talking about planetary and species survival).

The boomers failed in identifying and strengthening the aspects of "culture" that would stand the test of time. Not sure just how much mixing of ideas and goals can be accomplished now between the "generations" simply because the new kids on the block are playing "survive" not "thrive".

Big difference, even in the math. "Thrive" lifts all boats (adds), "survive" consumes (subtracts).

It might be a good idea to lay off of all the psychobabble and social engineering theory for a while so that "culture" can make a comeback and stabilize the HUMAN condition. Just a thought when looking at the "math".


As it relates to the factory worker who
discovered metal dinosaurs.

"Give a man a match and he'll never
rub two sticks together."


As it relates to the factory worker who
discovered metal dinosaurs.

"Give a man a match and he'll never
rub two sticks together."

My age is now nearly 72 and even when I reach 75 I expect to be in chapter 3. Since retiring I have become a trustee at my library and taken part of activities of a local sustainability group. I have begun doing more vegetable gardening and am a locovore as much as is possible. I enjoy my life and, far from dying at retirement, have become more alive. Need to work more on listening. Enjoyed the piece.

I believe that with ever age we have something more wonderful to do and see because of what our previous life experiences have taught us. We must continue to learn, challenge ourselves,grow and reinvent ourselves..by doing so not only do we add meaning to our life but others as well. We need to share these unique experiences so others can not only learn from us but also be less fearful to try..because when we try there will surely be failures..but if we know others have come before us and have made it thru surely this will deepen our faith and optimism but give us courage to go on living. I like to think that we have 4 choices a,b,c and the wild card. I like to look at failure as the wild card..an opportunity to achieve something we never thought of..is it really failure or just a change in direction? an opportunity to reinvent? a new discovery about ourselves and the world? just another part of living life to the fullest.

Exactly the thought thread I needed at the moment I heard this aired (May 10, 2009). I am 47 and standing at the brink of "the third chapter". There is a compelling argument for retreat at this age. However, I long to break the "staleness" of life. I've have done almost all of it before. I have been struggling for three years to muster up passion, curiosity, humility enough to once again re-invent myself. And, in the nature of this age, it's going very slowly.

You give me hope and permission to "be young" again. You encourage me to believe that it IS important to step outside of my comfort zone; to look foolish, to make mistakes. Can I tolerate those annoyed glances from those much younger than me ? Yes !

Professor Lawrence-Lightfoot, thank you for rattling my cage a little bit.

Mr. Moyers, thank you for bringing this wonderful author to us.

Thank you. Bill Moyer's interviews have been a part of my life since he did the series with Joseph Campbell; and his Journal is part of my Friday night essentials. I appreciate his ability to raise questions around issues that most will not touch; and he has a gift for asking the question that takes the discussion to the next deeper level. SLL's interview begins to delve into the 'age-ing' of our society; which no amount of denial will stop, youth oriented society or not. I have read her book, and feel she does a fair job of opening the discussion. However, I find the work falls short. Her bibliography is missing two pieces that I think are essential to the work of growing old in this culture. 1) From Age-ing to Sage-ing by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller, 2) Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin. SLL's conversation and research suggest an extension of the 'middle years' drive to "DO". Good for those who are of that mind; and I appreciate her work, her perspective and the passion that comes through. HOWEVER, the big hole for me, is that she does not explore (and maybe this is her next endeavor??) the "strangely needy and infantilized" (from pg 226 in The Third Chapter), feeling that comes to people who have not developed their 'encore career'. This stage of human development is sadly and detrimentally ignored. Both of the works I mentioned look deeply at the adult developmental stage of Elderhood in hopeful and refreshing ways. Ways I would add, that do not suggest some angst or guilt over not producing a quantifiable 'legacy'. They bring awareness, and invite a new depth of connection to one's own journey in the middle of a complicated and challenging world. I appreciate what I heard, and encourage a truly comprehensive discussion to follow. What do we do, when we can only BE? That time comes for all of us.
barbara eagleton murray

Thank you Bill for another great program. Great to hear a politician with the stature and credibility of Dick Durbin speak so candidly and with the common sense logic we all know is true. Maybe there is hope after all.
My background is diametrically different from Sara Lawrence-Lighfoot (always having been a craftsman and never attending college) but I have always had the inquisitive and analytical mind. Listening to her comments was like looking into a mirror of my mind. Especially relating to the "senior position" in the work place, speaking your mind in a constructive way without fear, and enjoying the ability to guide, teach, and advise, the younger peers. I thoroughly enjoyed exactly this "position" in the last 15 years of my employment at a fast growing Biotech giant. To this day ( now in my 66th year) I am always on the "lookout" for something I might be able to contribute. No notoriety necessary. The personal satisfaction would be more than sufficient. I must buy and read her book.

At the risk of sounding inane, at times I can 'drool' over Bill Moyers' show and his endeavors. Tonight is one of those night to relish and exalt, and it comes on a string of such cases.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's own passion and vision for the Third Chapter match my own in ways I had not articulated even to myself. I've just been DOing -- without often wondering why, or how.

In some ways, it is a last chance for Boomer Redemption. We envisioned a lot, and started a lot, but too few followed through, many settling for much less and, sadly, putting their talents and energies towards the advancement and benefit of some (too many) bereft of principles and compassion, who would ultimately would abuse and 'game' the system immorally, even treasonously for personal gain -- even at the expense of their own children and grandchildren.

Viva, Sara! There is time, indeed to blossom anew and set some things, including ourselves, right.

Coming on the heels of the ground-breaking revelatory interview with Dick Durbin, this evenings' program is not only pure delight for open and progressive observers, it puts the concept of "Hope' on some firm footing.

Both (along with a previous interview with Bill Grieder) are saying: here are steps to a new Blueprint, a new Narrative for America and Americans. It's about time.

I am planning to make your show required viewing form my college anthropology and journalism classes. Bill, you are the best.

I'm afraid I can't match the extravagant adulation of so many of the previous comments, but I was so mesmorized by Ms. Sara's earrings.... They must have been so heavy -- didn't they hurt her ears? And she kept swinging them so much.
I can't quite understand why Ms. Sara cuts us off at 75. My last remaining aunt died last year a few months short of her 100th birthday. People are living longer these days -- 75 is "young old" now. I can relate to this speaker's basic idea, but a fair bit of what she said seemed like sociological spin to me.
I applaude Bill Moyers for his program overall. I believe it is the best program on TV. Keep it up, Bill!

I liked the talk and would love to hear more speakers on discussing life, death, purposes, lessons, looking back at our history and forward to possibilities.

Thank You Bill Moyers

Dr. Moyers:

I loved Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot!! I will buy the book and give it to my mom for mother's day and read it myself! Great program!! Great guest!! Great conversation and questions!!! I feel that she has something to offer people of all ages; for our entire society desperately needs to adopt her type of attitude, life viewpoints, inclinations, approaches and ideals. One of the reasons for which we find ourselves in the economic, war, health and environmental crisis of today, stems from the very perspective that our capitalist system demands: urgency/stress b/c we have to do it right and it must be done now, competition b/c we have to out- perform, think and produce everyone else, constant change, flux b/c everything is always remodeled, reconfigured, adapted and made not to endure, all in order to fit or create the newest, biggest and most immediate machinery, product, fad or desires of the consumer. Hence, our entire society has become enslaved by our corporations save a few marginal peoples and their works. This spells disaster. If we do not change our course, this society will crumble!

50-75?? How about stretching it a bit? At 72, I too am searching for a meaningful life...but I plan on many more good years. Why say The Third Chapter ends at 75? The desire for a meaningful life, thru personal challenges or giving of ones self are always with us, but especially in these years; it makes for a timely Journal topic! I want to read this book!

A great guest with a challenging view of the maturing process for people of all ages,especially over 70.

I have just entered into the 3rd chapter. I have the sense of curiousity that few have and my sense of humor with the courage or rather the mischief to fail has been my close friend for the past few years. After dealing with two cancers, getting laid off and a long unfruitful job search, I went back to school. I love it. But the economy has made the years very hard. Now that all of my savings are gone, I am hoping that somehow I will get the money together to enter Nursing school. You mentioned on the show that the economy brings on the need for new creativity. You may be coming from the view of someone who maybe self-made but definitely reasonably well off. I have never been well off and have pulled myself off the street. Now I am scared. I am out of resources. After reducing every bill I have, still the money for school for living may not come. In the third chapter of my life I might be losing a place in the world. Still daily life goes on and I find much to laugh about.

What awful babyboomer trash. After self-indulgently destroying the planet in a single generation, even at 50-75, after having lived most of your lives and supposedly being vaguely 'wise', still, all you can think about is "ME". A whole new phase of radical selfishness dawns. Oh that the world could rid itself of you sooner rather than later.

Thank you Mr. Moyers for bringing us such valuable substance each week. This evening’s guest illustrated it with perfection: amazing depth and remarkable analysis presented with the utmost humanity and humility. I cannot wait to read you Professor Lightfoot! You have put into words the strongest intuitions I’ve nourished about the coming chapter of my life: I am 46!

Late last year, I came to the conclusion it was okay to follow a longtime dream and learn to build things with metal. Bridges, cranes, computers, picture frames, shelves, gates, whatever; I want to know how to make them with my own hands, preferably out of steel. At age forty, I had been working in the information technology sector for almost twenty years. In 2007, I was swept out of IBM in one of the seemingly regular layoffs that now occur at that company. I was stunned for a while; but then I got the courage to take two classes at a local community college; Introduction to Oxyacetylene Welding and Basic Shielded Metal Arc Welding. These two courses set my imagination on fire. Looking through a dark welding helmet, one can see only a small area around the business end of the torch. Watching the metal turn to liquid and fuse together I feel like a medieval alchemist chasing the philosopher's stone. I visualize all the things I can build. I think about how those things might comes together in the form of plate, bar and welded seam.

If, like I was, you are sitting in a cubicle all day with a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach; walk away and never look back. Walk toward something better. It doesn't have to be "your life's dream" just try something you've been curious about.

Boy, do I feel validated! Sara is my kind of woman. I've always been a risk taker, and each risk brings with it new and exciting adventures. Last summer I went to Cambodia with a fellow we sponsored over 20 years ago. At the end of May, I'm giving a one woman show titled, AND SHE STILL HAS HER OWN TEETH: A LIFE IN III PARTS, hoping to raise a couple thousand for a Khmer/English Development school in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Will do readings from my book, a funny column from my newspaper columns, and more dorky stuff that happened in Cambodia,e.g. the dingo dogs and eating silkworms and crickets. What an adventure. But then, isn't everything? I'm now 78 and have had a life of many such fascinating experiences, and well into part IV of life, I guess. But I ain't gonna' ever grow up so I can live in "The Land Where We'll Never Grow Old." The show will pass that idea along.

I am a babyboomer, educated and an artist. I went bankrupt back in the 90's. My son is now an architect and on his own, helping raise 2 grandchildren. Well, I found myself on my own in my 50's and I moved from the East coast to the West coast with hardly any money. I have been able to support myself and just got a credential to teach ESL to adults. I also have been painting and have places to display my art here that I never had back East. I have made tons of new friends. This adventure was something I just had to embrace. My parents are both deceased and I am only responsible for my dog who also loves the warm weather. I think about time running out but I don't want to go regretting not taking any chances and not having an adventure. I even had an affair with a younger man! I don't want to regret anything. It seems while working with older people in their 80's. life becomes more uncertain with age and not less....I might as well get used to fears and losses and try to put a positive spin on my life. I liked what your guest said about not taking ourselves so seriously and leaving some of the solutions to the younger generations. Aging is not for the weak at heart. Watching other people die has made me more spiritual. It seems that at the moment of death they become aware of another source outside of the human family. It's too bad the older generation is ignored so much in our society because old people are more interesting in that they have gained in humility through life's experiences...I love talking to those in their 90's.

as i have watched your journal over the many guests and topics I realize that bill moyers is a collector of ideas in a search for the spark of truth that may dwell in the words that stretch the entire length of his life. Bill uses his position and influence to travel the ideas of his chosen guests and this seemed more true than ever tonight in the topic discussed. What can be the end result of our time and effort on earth? what is possible and what must we do to reach the possibilities?
So often people searching for that possibility end up trying to make real some form of what they felt denied in childhood. This seems just another version or aspect of ego and its' seemingly unquenchable desires that may have been exaggerated by an event or experience. Bill, what was it in your development that you felt was outside your grasp? You may think you are teaching us something but i think it is you that desires being taught and to what end? please share bill.

What a great contribution you two made in this interview tonight. Sara and Bill, you both are a beacon for discovering life at the peak of our wisdom. Thanks for your contributions both in interview and your book, Sara, Third Chapter.
As I reflect on this interview, I perceive wisdom moving into spirituality. I likewise find your insights stimulating the creative process that is so often closed in our education system. Thanks.

I loved the conversation tonight, especially Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's comments about how a crisis can often lead to a new way of seeing, to finding a new direction in life. Just recently sadly widowed, I'm spending a lot of time with myself, thinking through who I am, reliving the positiveness and joy of my marriage, and how I can continue that in my "last chapter," in some new way and without my husband's companionship. I found the discussion very supportive and enlightening.

I am 77 and retired 10 years ago. Despite many advantages (great wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends, I have not yet found the life I want in this stage of my life. I have been asked by younger retirees (60s) if I could help them readjust. One very eloquent one finds her days "empty" and regrets stopping work. Another told me that he feels more insecure than ever and fears making any big commitments. Some talked about getting a job if only to "fill" or "strcuture their lives". They don't want a life spent travelling , lunching and exercising. I think that Professor Lightfoot has written a book despereately needed by me and by my young friends just starting on the 3rd chapter of their lives. Their lives are in a scary and lonely transition. They need to hear what Professor LIghtfoot has learned from and about people addressing similar "retirement" crises and fears. I believe that Prof. Lightfoot's book will help my retired ed friends find much needed hope and direction. Thank you.

I watched with interest your program tonight, since I will be speaking to a Unitarian Universalist group in a few weeks. My topic will be about living a life that makes a difference and leaving a memorable legacy. I found bits of wisdom in what Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot had to say.

The kid campaigning with her for Obama in New Hampshire. rofl. I have one like that.

According to Sarah's criteria, I am past the stage she is writing about. And yet I feel more alive now and more each year. I follow only my passions and each day is more fulfilling than the next. I too feel as if I am just beginning.

Maybe it's a matter of each of us finding what we want to do, what we need to do? Maybe it doesn't have to be exactly the way Ms Lightfoot presents it because that's the path that she wants to take and may not be the same as the one that we would take? Maybe it only has to be something that fulfills and completes us as individuals?

Wow! Validation! I've long felt that the really lucky people are those who find something new to 'take on' or feel passionate about each decade of their lives after about 40. In my 7th decade I took up volunteering with inner city children in literacy. I have felt so good in this effort that I took it beyond an after school reading program and now also mentor a 10 year old girl, plus I read at her elementary school all day Wednesdays, going from classroom to classroom, reading stories to children from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. I love it. They love me. And I hope to live happily for at least one more decade! When I graduated from high school in the early '50s, I knew I could never become a teacher because who would ever listen to ME. Now I know I'd have made a great teacher. :)

Per Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's third chapter, from 50 to 75, when life supposedly reaches its most joyous and meaningful. OMG! I'm 71. I only have four years left! And here I am thinking that I'm just getting started as a writer, an extreme wall-builder, a tennis player, and as a person. Honest to God, just last week I told a friend I was thinking of taking up singing, never having sung a note in my life. I don't have much choice. When I try to read my New York Times in the morning, I keep seeing myself as Don Quixote on stage singing "The Impossible Dream." I think I'm a baritone, but I'm not sure. We'll find out. I don't think I am all that unusual these days. How can Ms.Lawrence Lightfoot miss this so badly when all she has to do is look at her 94-year-old mother?

"So, school taught us to move quickly with speed. To be singular in our ambitions. To be competitive. To not waste time. To not show failure or weakness. And in the third chapter, they talk about the learning as needing to be creative, needing to be collaborative. That we need to fail, in order to discover the best way that we can learn. " (Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot)

Upon hearing this, I threw both hands in the air and shouted yes! Two ingredients we badly need in academics, teamwork and failure. Failure is the cure for mediocrity. Teamwork is reality. I know it is hard on students when I push these things, but I hope down the road, it will serve them well. Thank you.

I too found this guest somewhat contradictory in her message. I am the same age as this lady and I embrace this time as a journey inward. I think of a Meister Eckhart or Carl Jung.I found her message in conflict with itself. Most probably my ignorance.

WOW! I only saw the last 1/2 hour of the conversation, but I was thrilled to hear someone my exact age, my heritage, and with my consciousness and curiosity speak what I'm living in this third chapter of my life. Sister Sara, you've inspired me to "stay here": my husband of 30 years just died in January and I've been considering electing my own transition. You've encouraged me to stick around long enough to read your book and stay in touch with you. Love and gratitude, Hafeezah

And you brought her on -- why? We're the same age, and I teach adult doctoral students. I couldn't justify standing in front of a group of students talking about what she had to say. Again...why did you have her on?

I'm sorry to say I found nothing particularly innovative or intelligent or even interesting in this and she and I are the same age.

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