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Posted November 12, 2012
How many of us have thought about how we will or should spend the later stages of our lives? Some of us already have plans and some of us are too afraid to face old age and think about it. What is the best way to spend your twilight years? I think this is an ever important question.
With the increased speed at which we live our lives, the never-ending goals and materialistic mindset, growing old has changed in modern society. The author, who is seventy-three, takes the reader along on his journey to question how to best spend his years in old age. He looks back through pages of philosophy to try to find the best answer.
I am not in the old age stage yet. However, this book will surely prepare you for what kind of mindset you should adopt before that time comes. It will also wake you up to the fact that you can start your search for this joy and happiness before you get there.
This is not a sad story of an old man searching for meaning in his final days. It is the joyous story of a man in old age who as been brave enough to accept where is is in life and enjoy it as such. By asking these philosophical questions, he has already acheived meaning. He is not in denial that he is mortal and death will surely come, possibly in the not too distant future.
On Daniel Klein's search for his philosophy on old age, he revisits many philosophers and schools of thought, such as Aristotle, Kierkegaard and Buddhism. His topics range from existential authenticity to the timeliness of spirituality. Even if you don't agree with his musings and conclusions, it will definitely get you thinking about your own philosophical ideas on old age. You might even come to some solid conclusions of your own.
Put some thought into this one and enjoy!
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Daniel Klein is well known to amateur philosophers as the co-author of the ‘Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar…’ series of books that illustrates basic philosophical problems via jokes. In ‘Travels with Epicurus’, Mr. Klein takes the reader on a trip of self-examination while spending one month on the Greek island of Hydra. Contained within his travel bags are the works of his favorite philosophers, many from ancient Greece, and in particular, the works of Epicurus. He mulls over the writings of these European writings while visiting old and long time friends on the island. The basic question addressed in this book is, how should we live our lives when we become old? Mr. Klein doesn’t mean ‘old, old’, as in dotty and incontinent (a stage at which he begins to agree with the Stoics that suicide should be an option). But ‘old’ as when the body is definitely starting to fail. In Klein’s case, this realization began when his dentist told him he would need either a set of dental implants that, after many months of uncomfortable procedures would produce a youthful looking smile or a set of false teeth that would make him look like an old man. He picked the later because, he admits, he had become ‘an old man’. The opening narrative describing his dental visits is the beginning of a very interesting commentary on the cult of the youth, and of his decision not to be part of it. Rather, he wants to live as an old man, with all the advantages such a lifestyle offers, including just slowing down to savor the remaining time just as Epicurus would recommend. But oddly, at the end of the book, he concludes that much of this way of living is actually just being mindful of the here and now. In fact, towards the end of the book (page 150) he makes the very Zen-like observation that ‘A mindful person is fully engaged in what he is presently doing…he is ever on guard against slipping into everydayness… In my old age…I may finally be able to do that. “ No Buddhist texts are cited despite this conclusion. This book is a great read for thoughtful baby boomers crossing into ‘old age’ who wonder how they can best use these last years. Even if you don’t agree with Mr. Klein’s conclusions (and they’re more complicated than can be described in a short review such as this one), you’ll find the options his considers to be thought provoking. And as one who has done much to popularize philosophy I’m sure this is what Daniel Klein would like from his readers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.