Composing a Further Life
The Age of Active Wisdom
By Mary Catherine Bateson
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307279637, 272pp.)
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
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Mary Catherine Bateson—author of the landmark bestseller Composing a Life—gives us an inspiring exploration of a new life stage that she calls Adulthood II, a result of the longer life spans and greater resources we now enjoy. In Composing a Further Life, Bateson redefines old age as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and challenges us to use it to pursue new sources of meaning and ways to contribute to society.
Bateson shares the stories of men and women who are flourishing examples of this “age of active wisdom”—from a retired boatyard worker turned silversmith to a famous actress to a former foundation president exploring the crucial role of grandparents in our society. Retiring no longer means withdrawing from life, but engaging with it more deeply, and Composing a Further Life points the way.
Mary Catherine Bateson was Clarence J. Robinson Professor in Anthropology and English at George Mason University from 1987 to 2002, when she became Professor Emerita. She is a Visiting Scholar at the Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College and, until recently, was president of the Institute of Intercultural Studies in New York City. She is the author of Composing a Life; With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson; Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way; Full Circles, Overlapping Lives: Culture and Generation in Transition; and Willing to Learn: Passages of Personal Discovery. She resides in Hancock, New Hampshire.
“The kind of life-altering perspective we expect from Bateson. . . . She champions the virtues of discontinuity—the growth spurts, the sudden illuminations.” —Los Angeles Times
“One of the wisest people on the planet has written one of the finest books on the later years of life.” —Jean Houston, author of A Mythic Life
“Bateson has used her unique vision and insight to light up the many facets of the ‘Further Life,’ giving us a whole fresh way to look at this new frontier of longevity.” —Jane Fonda
“An exquisite and wonderfully readable book about composing a further life, one that is entering its richest phase. Whether life begins at thirty, fifty, or eighty, the wisdom she conveys will make each of the reader’s days a fuller one.” —Harvey Cox, author of The Future of Faith