[intro]In America’s youth, we loved older people. The early European settlers wore white wigs and cut their clothes to affect a hunched-over posture. In the early census, Americans lied and said they were older than their actual years. A popular saying of the day, “a hoary head is a crown of gold,” captured the Puritans’ reverence for the elders of the tribe. They believed living to a ripe old age wasn’t only unusual but also a sign from the divine, a sign of grace.[/intro]

Things change.

Over the past century, American culture has glorified youth, and, in many respects, denigrated age. The influence of our national youth obsession has come to pervade every corner of the culture, including the culture of later life. Nowhere has it been more evident than in the invention and widespread expansion since the 1960s of age-segregated playgrounds with names like Leisure World and Sun City, where older people flocked to escape a society that was far from embracing. In these senior cities, everyone was old, and as a result, no one was old. Especially when occupied from dawn to dusk with games and sports and other distractions best characterized as graying as playing. In essence, our vision of old age became a pale version of youth.

That ideal persists today. Is 60 the new 40, 30, or perhaps adolescence all over again?

But trying to cling to our fast-fading past is no way to get older as individuals, and it is no way to grow older as a nation–which, by the way, we are doing rapidly. But where to turn for authentic and credible alternatives?

Bill Thomas to the rescue–once again. One of our national heroes for his work transforming nursing home care, Thomas has emerged as one of the great visionary leaders of a movement to create a later life that can stand on its own, that is something to genuinely look forward to, that draws on the true strengths of those in the second half of life, without simply defaulting to the ideals of youth.

Bill’s stunning and insightful new book, Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life, brings together this desperately needed perspective with powerful storytelling and his own compelling odyssey. And Second Wind is not only a blueprint for individual fulfillment, it’s a generational mandate. Despite so much boomer bashing today, Thomas argues persuasively that our generation already has accumulated an impressive record of social progress, and that we are poised to do our most important and enduring work. The book is already proving to be an important catalyst in the movement to reimagine the second half of life in ways that are richer and more purposeful, and the aging society in ways that promise personal and social renewal.

As the great migration beyond midlife gathers momentum and scale, the book’s timing couldn’t be better. So many millions are looking for deeper meaning, more significant roles, and connections that span the generations. With Second Wind, Bill Thomas has given us an inspiring and pragmatic guide for the path to purpose in the second half of life. And with the nationwide Second Wind tour he is providing the perfect opportunity to participate fully in this groundbreaking crusade to help leave the world better than we found it.

Encore.org has joined Bill Thomas as a national sponsor for the Second Wind Book Tour. We have a limited number of tickets available in some of the 25 stops on Bill’s national tour, which begins on March 31. To check ticket availability or request a ticket, visit this link.

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