Fashionable male elders and the decision to save lots of humanity
Lewis Richmond is a modern male elder. So is his friend Peter Coyote and my friend Chip Conley. I met Lew in 1977 at the Green Gulch Zen Temple in San Francisco where he was head of the practice. Ten years later, I met Chip soon after he bought the legendary Phoenix Hotel, then known as the quirky Tenderloin Hotel with the rock & # 39; n & # 39; roll soul. We are literally the last of a dying race at a time when humanity needs us more than ever.
As of January 21, 2021, the global death toll from the coronavirus is 2,087,496, with 416,435 deaths in the US alone. With numbers this high, it can be difficult to remember that every death is a real person in a family where mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother mourn their deaths. Although anyone can contract the virus, not everyone is at the same risk of death.
Promundo, an international organization campaigning for gender equality and the prevention of violence, recently released a report entitled "Masculinity and COVID-19: Making the Connections".
The main results show that:
- Men seem to die more often from COVID-19 than women, as is evident from many countries around the world.
- Male norms expect men to be tough, stoic, and self-reliant. This may mean men with COVID-19 symptoms avoid or delay seeking medical advice.
- The economic consequences of COVID-19 could lead to an increase in suicides, especially among men.
A recently published scientific study
"Men, Suicide, and Covid-19: Critical Masculinity Studies and Interventions," he concluded. 19 pandemic. "
Suicide can be the ultimate indicator of despair, and we see this loss of hope most strongly in older men. In his book Dying to Be Men, the internationally recognized expert on men's health, Dr. Will Courtenay: "For nearly all 15 major causes of death, men and boys have higher age-adjusted mortality rates than women and girls." The largest gender inequality is the suicide death rate, which is higher for men at any age from ten to eighty-five years but increases sharply with age.
- Between the ages of 55 and 64, the suicide rate in men is 3.1 times higher than in women.
- Between 65 and 74 years of age, the suicide rate in men is 6.3 times higher than in women.
- Between the ages of 75 and 84, the suicide rate in men is 7.0 times higher than in women.
- Among the over 85s, the fastest growing population, the rate for men is 17.5 times higher than that for women.
The pandemic is a portal for the modern male elder
In a recent essay “Pandemic is a Portal”, author and activist Arundhati Roy says, “What happened to us? It's a virus, yes. In and of itself it has no moral belief. But it's definitely more than a virus. "Roy continues," Historically, pandemics have forced people to break with the past and re-imagine their world. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to wander through the corpses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our databases and dead ideas, our dead rivers and our smoky skies. Or we can easily walk through with little luggage and imagine another world. And ready to fight for it. "
Shortly after the world was blocked in March 2020, I wrote an article entitled "The Importance of Covid-19". I said that the arrival of the coronavirus could be the wake up call of humanity to change our ways and get back into balance with the community if humanity survives. "We never knew enough," says historian Thomas Berry. “We weren't familiar enough with all of our cousins in the great Earth family either. Nor could we listen to the different creatures of the earth, each with their own story to tell. However, now is the time when we will listen or die. "
One man who listens is Chip Conley, bestselling author and hospitality entrepreneur. At age 26, he founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality (shortly after acquiring the Phoenix Hotel) and made it the second largest boutique hotel brand in the United States. He was later asked to help two young men who had a new idea of hotels and hospitality. He agreed to help them and became the strategic hospitality and leadership advisor for the company we know as Airbnb.
In his book Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, he begins Chapter 8, Rewiring, Not Retiring, with the following quote: "Do you just breathe a little and call it a life?" He continues, “My close friend Vanda asked this provocative question – a line from Mary Oliver's poem,“ Have you ever tried to step on the long black branches? “- during the early days of the dotcom bust in 2002. I. At least financially, I was barely breathing, as my hotel company suffered the first of the two one-off downturns in the same decade. “We have all had times when we felt suffocated and barely breathed in our lives. We long to free ourselves and accept our calling.
Another man who listens to the call of humanity is Lewis Richmond. In his new book Every Breath, New Chances: How to Age With Honor and Dignity – A Guide for Men, he says:
“If you're a man over 50, I want to talk to you about aging well. You might think aging is just a burden. Most men don't want to talk about it or think about it. As we get older, certain aspects of our lives slowly go downhill – our physical strength, our masculinity, our endurance, our memory, and our mental acuity. "
However, aging is more than accepting loss and learning to age well. "I think aging is a hero's path," says Richmond, "which requires courage and intention and a brave heart. Besides finding love, aging well is probably our best and highest calling." However, to take that hero's path, we have to tell the truth about this time of life and start this journey in the company of other men.
Lew's friend, actor, and Zen teacher Peter Coyote wrote the foreword to Every Breath, New Chances and shares his own truth about himself and his longstanding association with Richmond. “I was once young,” says Peter, “male, self-assured, physically strong, quick-witted, self-confident and successful in my own way. I'm seventy-eight now, on my way to seventy-nine. My feet are constantly sleeping due to a neuropathy that affects my balance. In certain cases my hands are shaking. It is not a question of restoring the physical strength or sexual confidence of my youth. I forget names and occasions with increasing frequency. I'm not alone."
There are many books out there that help women with their problems as they get older, much less so for men. One of the things I love most about this book that I have enjoyed reading is how simple, yet practical, the instructions Lew offers. One of the tools Lew offers is an innovative visualization exercise he calls "Deep Mind Reflection" that helps readers access their own intuition and wisdom about aging. Here you can see a short video from Lew that will take you into deep thought reflection. I wish the book was available when I turned fifty and was an aspiring elder, but glad it is here now and is available for purchase here.
Peter continues with supportive words in the preface. “My friend and (full disclosure) my Zen teacher for over a dozen years, Lew Richmond, wrote this book for people like me. There is a physical element to aging, but the hardest part can be the mental component. Lew and his book want to help us with this. “In this short video you can hear Peter speak more about his appreciation for Lew's book.
Chip Conley closes his book Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder with a chapter entitled "The Age of the Wise," in which he says, "I love this delicate African saying: When an elder dies, it's like having a library burned down. "Many indigenous communities could not imagine their cultural survival without elders." Learn about developing the wisdom of the elderly at Chip's Modern Elder Academy.
If humanity is to survive, we need elders, both men and women. However, we lose too many men exactly when we need them most. Lewis Richmond's book can keep us physically, emotionally, and spiritually alive and provides real guidance for men and women who love us. For more information on Lew's work and Every Breath, New Chances, please visit his website here.
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