"I am sure of one thing, that meditation is the keystone to ending up in pretty good shape when you get to be this age," says Rebecca, age 92. "The second most important thing is to 'wake up.' Most of us live our entire lives without ever really waking up. We just float along on the surface of life, pushed by the daily demands on us." Other suggestions Rebecca offers for staying youthful are to not cling to old habits, rules, or behaviors, to keep in circulation, volunteer, use the computer to network, and if you are forced to be quiet, reach out with the phone or write letters.
by Patricia Holt, San Francisco Chronicle
Elderly people are supposed to think back on their youth with nostalgia and longing.... But for Sonoma writer Rebecca Latimer, who is 92, getting older is a much better deal than being young. "I can say with all honesty, I'd rather be a very old woman that a very young one," she writes. "It is true that I have lost my physical resilience, but new friends and interests outweigh my losses. Yes, I'd rather be over seventy than under fifty."
This is not only hard to believe, but it also sounds like heresy in our youth dominated culture. But it's only the first of many "secrets" of longevity that Latimer imparts in the delightful and mind-changing You're Not Old Until You're Ninety...Best to Be Prepared, However.
The author remembers herself as "an unhappy misfit as the wife of an American Foreign Service officer" until her 60s, when she moved with her husband, Fred, to New Hampshire.... A period of intellectual hunger overtakes her--she reads voraciously the contemporary philosophers Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts, and she learns to "hold the mind still" in meditation at the same time she learns to drive, fix household problems, and travel alone....
By the time Latimer and her husband move west to be near their grandchildren, the author senses that California offers more than a place to wind down. Even Fred's near fatal strokes and her own bout with skin cancer launch her into a "curiouser and curiouser" stage when she discovers biofeedback, psychosynthesis, holistic philosophy, acupuncture, nutrition--and attitude. "It is positively dangerous to hold to the opinions we acquired 40 years ago," she writes.
Along the way, "the world [has] become a friendly place" for Latimer. "I feel warm, even tender toward everyone" while experiencing a parallel "detachment" that affords new enlightenment every day. It's one of many advantages of old age that pop up on nearly every page of this lovely book.
"A refreshingly candid account of a life-long journey along the high road of spiritual adventure by a remarkable woman. If you are planning to remain fully alive until you die, I recommend you read You're Not Old Until You're Ninety." Sam Keen, Fire in the Belly
"It's easy to sing praises for You're Not Old Until You're Ninety. Mrs. Latimer graces us with a gift of wisdom in her gentle and unassuming way. Hers is not just a book for old people, but a book for young people to teach them how to live well." Ron Hood, M.D.
"Fortunately you don't have to be ninety, or even thirty, to appreciate the wisdom, honesty, and compassion in this delightful book.... The insights and advice the writer shares can help all of us, at any age, and I will use this delightful book as a guide as I continue moving along." Charles T. Tart, author of many books, including Living the Wonderful Life
"This book is wonderful. I read it all at one sitting.... The book and its advice is the best there is. It is a way to live life to the fullest, and until what most people consider an advanced age.... It feels possible for anyone. And it is fundamentally simple. This book will save people from imagining they are old until they are ninety-nine, me included." Gay Gaer Luce, Your Second Life and Longer Life, More Joy
Table of Contents
1 The Beginning
2 Moving Forward
3 Two Role Models
4 Beginning Meditation - and Meeting Carlos Castaneda
5 Learning to Relax: Its Unexpected Rewards
6 My Imaginary Doctor
7 Ouspensky Introduces Gurdjieff; Angels Appear
8 "You're Not Old Until You're Ninety"
9 Strange Experiences in California
10 Curiouser and Curiouser
11 Assagioli's "Useless" Exercises
12 Jaime Returns; Other Unusual People Turn Up
13 Trying for a Miracle
14 Where I Am Today
15 Make Your Body Your Ally
16 Eating - and a Helpful Cookbook
17 It Pays to Take the Long View
18 What's Good About Being Old?
19 For an Old Friend, Reg Robinson
21 Adding It All Up
The way I see it, the first rule is to be open to new ideas, to be non-judgmental. Don't ask the younger generation to follow the rules you learned so many years ago. Any change is hard to accept as you grow older....
It is much easier to cling to your past values, to judge everybody and everything by the standards you have always trusted, but if you do, you will be left on the sidelines. The future will pass you by, and you will be sitting in your rocking chair, grumbling and complaining with all the other old codgers.
I feel I can't say this too often; an open mind will take you further than you think. It will let you enter the next age of ideas that are continually developing. If you are willing to give them a hearing, you will be able to talk to your grandchildren about things you don't understand at all, and your horizons will be noticeably broadened.
Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1997
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