This combination memoir and meditation on the art of conscious aging by Episcopal priest Malcolm Boyd (Are You Running with Me, Jesus?) is counter-cultural. In other words, it is right in sync with the style of this "rebel priest" who was a Freedom Rider in the Civil Rights movement and a pioneer in experimenting with devotional services in coffeehouses and nightclubs.
From 1990-2000, Malcolm Boyd wrote a column for Modern Maturity, the magazine of AARP. Now at 78, he is poet and writer-in-residence at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles. Here he tallies up some of life's lessons he's learned from actress Mary Pickford, his mother and father, his grandparents, and fellow Christians. He notes: "Mentoring unselfishly offered by others, has frequently shown me the way to move ahead more wisely and with needed grace."
Boyd sees his 50s as a difficult decade a time when he still hadn't found himself. He discusses his slavery to perfectionism and his inability to reveal his true self as being hurdles he had to overcome. Doing so "usually involved giving up control. Getting out of the way. Diminishing ego."
In chapters on learning, remembering, simplifying, maturing, exploring, and understanding, Boyd delineates some of the central experiences of conscious aging. He quotes Laurens Van der Post: "Think not only of the places I have been but also of the distances I have traveled within myself." Not a bad summary of Boyd's achievement in this sturdy little book.