CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2018
Reviewed by Piers Warren
The title of this book, and indeed all the chapters within, comes from song lyrics of the sixties. As the author says himself at the start: ‘This book is dedicated to the spirit of the 1960s: may all of us find the love, peace and freedom that our generation dreamed of then.’ There is much reference to ‘baby boomers’ in the book and indeed it is aimed principally at those over 64, although Alan Heeks (who is nearly 70 at the time of writing) does point out that it can also be of use to younger readers approaching that age. In my case that proved to be true.
Alan is a ‘natural happiness expert’, social entrepreneur and workshop leader. Among many other projects he founded The Threshold Centre (a co-housing development in Dorset), and created Hazel Hill Wood, a woodland retreat centre near Salisbury. He has done a lot of research into the process of growing older, and often refers to his earlier book Out of the Woods: A Guide to Life for Men Beyond 50, which covers some of the areas mentioned in this book in more detail.
The book is split into three parts: Finding your Gifts; Digging the Challenges; and Fresh Maps. He starts by looking at relationships, communities, family, inspiration and adventures, then, in part 2, explores the tricky areas of health, loss, fear, work and money. The final part covers changing our story, seeking wisdom from others and future outlooks.
The style is informal, friendly, to the point and the book is well-littered with bullet points and sub-headings, making it easy to pick out the aspects most relevant to the reader. Initially it can seem like a lot of the advice is fairly obvious, and occasionally it feels frustrating when you are frequently directed to other books for further depth, but the overall affect of this book really grows on you. That is a feeling that you are not alone, that you have a friend who has been through all this and can support with gentle advice and recommendations. Each chapter finishes with a resources section, which mentions several other books on the theme, and occasionally websites, organisations, etc too. Alan has clearly read all these books and briefly explains why he thinks each would be useful. This is valuable research and I’m sure I will keep coming back to his suggestions for future reading material.
Although it is quite a quick read, and I did go through it from cover to cover, this is not a book to then put away on the bookshelf and forget. As well as the useful references there are various exercises, such as meditations and visualisations, that can be tried over and again. Getting older can be fraught with many problems; for many, these days, it can be a busy time just when we were expecting to slow down and take it easy. Perhaps the most endearing part of reading this book, was that it made me feel less anxious about the future. I know I’ll be picking it up again.