Parker Palmer is a writer, teacher, activist, visionary, and mentor to those who have read his books, taken his e-courses, and been tutored in programs he helped develop on the roles and responsibilities of leadership. He has explored the heart of American democracy, written about teaching, delved into strangers and the meanings of paradox, covered the lineaments an active life, and explored the gifts of a hidden wholeness. He is profiled in S&P's Living Spiritual Teachers Project.
Now as he looks back on eight decades of his life, Palmer is reflective and eager to observe what is happening. We are not surprised by this admission:
"I like being old because the view from the brink is striking, a full panorama of my life – and a bracing breeze awakens me to new ways of understanding my own past, present, and future. As one of Kurt Vonnegut's characters says in Player Piano 'out on the edge you can see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.' "
We nod our heads in agreement when Palmer states: "We need to reframe aging as a passage of discovery and engagement, not decline and inactivity." In a chapter on the dance of the generations, the author expresses his enthusiasm about having a youthful collaborator on this book. Three essays are accompanied by songs about their themes written and performed by the gifted singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer. They can be downloaded free of charge at NewcomerPalmer.com/home.
In his discussion of spirituality, Palmer covers his quest for the true self, the call to community, and a memorable retreat. In his commentaries on work and staying engaged with the world and your soul, this seasoned writer keeps us attentive with short gems on living from the inside out, the movie Begin Again, and some very right-on-target assessments of today's tense political scene. Palmer even takes responsibility for being hooked on anger and the challenges he faces in bringing love to the fore in all his relationships, both private and public.
Palmer's Quaker faith doesn't roar on these pages, but it is evident here and there in his thoughtful way of listening to the lessons of his life.