When I received an e-mail from Henry Alford telling me he had named Dogwalk as one of his ten favorite blogs by or about seniors as requested by Blogs.com I was, of course, delighted.
As he requested, I made mention of it on my blog. The fact that he introduced himself as a contributor to the New York Times and Vanity Fair did not escape me. When I went to his web site to investigate further I was taken by his youth. Why would such a young man have a blog about seniors?
The answer was readily apparent. He has a book due to be released in January 2009. The title made me laugh. How to Live: A Search for Wisdom From Old People (While They Are Still on this Earth). Well, he is a humorist!
In it he interviews everyone from celebrities to the eccentric to the accomplished anonymous. He speaks of tremendously personal moments in dealings with his own family, pathos and hilarity. A story about everyman and everywoman. Us. Because we are "old". (I told him how much I dislike the term elder though I had no other to offer in return!)
I have read books on aging by professionals who "study" us and those of us undergoing the experience. I am looking forward to reading one by an outsider looking in. I am a huge advocate of cross generational communication. It helps keep me on my toes and hopefully those I talk with also take away something of value.
It would seem this very thing was part of Henry's motivation. When asked about the inspiration for the book by Ron Hogan of Publisher's Weekly, he had this to say, "I'm fascinated with the idea that humans are one of the few species whose average lifespan exceeds the age at which they procreate. Why? What's the evolutionary reason? I think it's because old people are living libraries...and we as a culture really overlook that."
It's encouraging to me that a man like Henry Alford has come to this realization. Of course we "elders" have been trying to tell the world this truth for some time now. As I've talked about on several occasions, blogging is giving us our voice.
Here is a man, and I hope there are more like him waiting in the wings, who can tell our story. Not the stuff we dwell on, the aches and pains and frustrations of dealing with an inattentive medical community or which new malady has popped up just this morning. We do that well enough among ourselves. But the story of who we are because of who we were. The living library part. In doing so maybe he can put his finger on just why we as a culture really overlook that.