wisdom years

People embrace retirement from the work world’s daily grind in a variety of ways. Some dread the lack of structure that their careers provided — while others look forward to this freedom but don’t know what to do with it once it arrives. Still others see retirement as a time for adventure, which can be physical, spiritual, intellectual, or a combination of all three. In The Wisdom Years: A Guide to Intentional Aging (Covenant Books, 168 pages, $14.95), author Barbara Skye Boyd offers the benefit of her experience to anyone who wants to make a conscious choice about how to consider this era of life.

Boyd is a former religious studies professor at the University of Oklahoma and a retired Presbyterian clergywoman. She has dubbed old age “the wisdom years” because the phrase connotes ownership of one’s own mind and body, rather than a time period you enter whether you want to or not. Three years after she retired to Santa Fe, she woke up wondering if all there was to this new phase was the sense of being on a permanent vacation. She missed the purpose her career had given her, but she didn’t miss her career. She decided she needed a plan for her future. As her 70th birthday approached, she embarked on a series of pilgrimages in the United States and abroad that were meant to test her ability to hike as she did in her youth. She also integrated the reading and study of poetry, philosophy, and literature into the challenging walks.

Boyd does not take lightly the physical ramifications of getting older, nor does she take for granted that all retirees have the same financial stability she enjoys. She does not advocate for everyone to follow her path to fulfillment. She writes with appealing energy for readers who may be as young as 40 and as old as 95. No limits are placed on who might find intentional aging to be a relevant concept — or when.

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