I am still "navigating" this book - The Human Odyssey. Unfortunately, work and life has kept me from reading as much as I would like to, and I find that when I am reading non-fiction, it seems to take even longer. Why? Because I am actually learning something.
I need to begin by reiterating that I do not review books. However, this book is really, really cool.
The author, Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D is apparently a renowned educator, parenting expert, veteran workshop leader, and successful author. I have to say - I am captivated by what he has accomplished in this book.
He has taken the 12 life stages and broken them down into little pieces. Comparing and contrasting folk lore to history to biology to psychology to philosophy. Intense in the scope and amazing in the long run.
Just so you know, there are 12 stages in the human life. He breaks each one down per chapter. Here is a look at what the subjects are:
Prebirth: The Undiscovered Continent
Birth: Through the tunnel
Infancy: Legends of the Fall
Early Childhood: The Magical Mystery Years
Middle Childhood: Entering the Civilized World
Late Childhood: Becoming Part of a Crowd
Adolescence: Adventures into the Twilight Zone
Early Adulthood: Building an Independent Life
Midlife: Through the Muddy Waters
Mature Adulthood: Scaling the Peaks
Late Adulthood: Approaching the Horizon
Death & Dying: Crossing the Bridge
Beyond Death: Travel to Other Lands
Then he concludes with - Planting your oar in the sand.
If human growth and development is interesting to you - then pick up this book. You won't be disappointed. Right now I am in the Midlife chapter. (Figuratively and literally.) This is clearly speaking to me, according to the book - I am in mid-life right now. (35 - 49)
One of the things I like about the book is that at the end of each chapter he will give you "Ways to explore and support _____" For example, since I am in "Midlife" here is what he suggests:
1. Keep a journal of your dreams, visions, reflections, and feelings as you begin to experience the sense of becoming an older person.
2. Make a list of all the things you want to do in your life3 before you die. Then start doing them.
3. Go over the goals you've had for your life as an adult, and see if they are still relevant to your current life. If not, then modify them accordingly.
For Friends & Family:
1. Gather friends into a "midlife" support group that meets regularly to discuss social, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual changes going on in your lives.
2. Support a friend or family member who may be going through a "midlife crisis" by offering counsel, friendship, and/or referral to an appropriate mental health professional or program.
3. Help a midlife friend or family member who has been "downsized" find another job or career.
For the Community:
1. Start a women's or men's group for middle-aged adults in your community to help them cope with major life transitions in relationship, jobs and/or illness.
2. Contribute financially to a woman's midlife health center that serves the poor or indigent.
Volunteer at an organization that provides midlife career advice or job placement services.
Pretty neat, huh? I realize the Midlife portion is probably the most boring.. but fascinating all the same.
Remember a couple of weeks ago I was pondering the idea of the "Great Exit".. last night I came to a place in the book that confirms - at this stage in my life - you begin to THINK about death more often. I will close with the excerpt from the book, I think you might find it fascinating:
"For many creative individuals, midlife actually feels like death. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote to a friend, "I am at the end of the 35th year of my life... for 1.500 years they called this period the 'midlife point of life'.... But I, at the midpoint of life, am so 'in the midst of death' that i may take me hourly..." The main character in Dotoyevsky's "Notes from the Underground" declares, "I am forty years old now, and you know forty years is a whole lifetime; you know it is extreme old age. To live longer than forty years is bad manners, is vulgar, immoral." Jungian psychologist Maria von Franz suggested that the puer aeternus (eternal youth) who has refused to grow up as an adult, may be at risk for an early death at this time if he has not make a firm commitment to adult responsibilities. I remember being terrified by this pronouncement when I read von Franz's book in my early thirties. Somewhat of a man-child myself, unmarried, and conflicted about whether I wanted to continue to work with children or not, I did, in fact, go through a depression at the age of thirty-seven when I had trouble eating, sleeping, functioning at work due to an obsession with the fear of death."
Need I say more? ;-)