On the Brink of Everything
Parker J. Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old, (Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers), 2018
Some of my most helpful friends are those who are 15 or so years older. They are close enough in age to be able to connect with my experiences and I with theirs, but far enough down the road to have some sage advice and understanding for the challenges that lie ahead. I have face-to-face friends and mentors in this category, but I also realize that they are becoming fewer as the years advance and death takes its inevitable toll. Being by the side of a friend as he or she approaches death is an enlightening experience and valuable, but it also takes its toll of grief and sadness. I have always maintained relationships with others, however. “Friends” known through their writing whom’ I’ve never met face to face have been important to my education and life journey. For several decades now one of those friends has been Parker Palmer. This volume of essays contains many that I had read when they were posted on the “On Being” blog. Still the collection is a wonderful read and one I think to which I will refer for the rest of my life. Palmer has a way of stating the obvious and being wonderfully blunt when speaking of his own frailties and challenges.
On the Brink of Everything is a courageous look at the realities of aging and mortality. None of us will go on forever. Knowing that life is limited makes it seem even more precious. The decisions we make do matter and this book is well worth the time to read it again and again.