Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart
From a psychiatrist who has spent the past thirty years listening to other people’s most intimate secrets and troubles-an eloquent, incisive, and deeply perceptive book about the things we all share-and which every one of us grapples with as we strive to make the most of the life we have left. After service in Vietnam as a surgeon for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment m 1968-69, at the height of the war, Dr. Gordon Livingston returned to the U.S. and began work as a psychiatrist. In that capacity, he has listened to people talk about their lives-what works, what doesn’t-and the limitless ways (most of them self-inflicted) that we have found to be unhappy. He is also a parent twice bereaved. In one thirteen-month period, he lost his eldest son to suicide, his youngest to leukemia. Out of a lifetime of experience, Livingston has extracted thirty bedrock truths: We are what we do, Any relationship IS under the control of the person who cares the least. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Only bad things happen quickly. Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing. The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas. Livingston illuminates these and twenty-four others in a series of carefully hewn, perfectly calibrated essays, many of which emphasize our closest relationships and the things that we do to impede or, less frequently, enhance them. Again and again, these essays underscore that “We are what we do,” and that while there may be no escaping who we are, we also have the capacity to face loss, misfortune, and regret and to move beyond them-that it is not too late. Full of things we may know but have not articulated to ourselves, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart is a gentle and generous alternative to the trial-and-error learning that makes wisdom such an expensive commodity. For everyone who feels a sense of urgency that the clock ticks and still we aren’t the person we’d like to be, it offers solace, guidance, and hope.
Read excerpts from the book