Hit Counter

26 Feb 2010

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart by Dr. Gordon Livingston

One of my Christmas presents this year was a book called 'Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now', by Gordon Livingston, with a foreword by Elizabeth Edwards. Dr. Livingston is a physician, psychiatrist and writer. Edwards is one of those he met on an online bereaved parents forums and has drawn strength from him to reclaim her life. 

    It's one of the best books I have ever read. I'm still reading it but I wanted to write about it. Dr. Livingston gives a fresh perspective to so many things. Some of the things he said were new to me, some simply surprised me by the obvious nature of it and how I'd failed to see. The chapters are named such that you only need to read the contents page for a host of quotes to think about. Edwards' foreword makes good reading, makes you wonder if you will get the same benefits out of this book that she did. 

    You don't need to be suffering to read Dr. Livingston's book, he just steers you to look in another direction. Each person could get something else to take away from each chapter, often not what the title says. I tweeted one such, from each chapter of the book and am reproducing it here. I've copied from Twitter, so you need to read backwards (starting from the last occurrence of 'bumblebee' to the first, which is from chapter 18).

    bumblebee Ch18. There is nothing more pointless, or common, than doing the same things and expecting different results! bumblebee ...hope, chance, intuition, and a willingness to be surprised.  

    bumblebee (contd) Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on...  

    bumblebee  Ch16. Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between two points, life has a way of confounding geometry. (contd)  

    bumblebee Ch15. The process of building has always been slower and more complicated (i.e. less immediately satisfying) than that of destruction.  

    bumblebee (contd)... people fall out of love, the demands for explanation are insistent.  

    bumblebee  Ch14. It seems ironic that when people fall in love, no justification for their attachment is necessary. When, on the other hand... (contd)  

    bumblebee Instead I ask them to examine what it is that has so far dissuaded them from killing themselves.  

    bumblebee Ch13 Suicide is the ultimate expression of preoccupation with self. When confronted with a suicidal person I dont try to talk them out of it...  

    bumblebee ... of inestimable value to those who survive us.  

    bumblebee Ch12. (Old age) If we can retain our good humor and interest in others even as the curtain closes, we'll have contributed something...  

    bumblebee Ch11. We simply pay too much attention to words - ours and others' - and not enough to the actions that actually define us.  

    bumblebee ...our different roles demand different attitudes.  

    bumblebee ...worker, partner, parent, friend, is a challenge. We think of ourselves as the same person whatever we may be doing at the moment. But...  

    bumblebee Ch10. A certain amt of compartmentalization in necessary to succeed in different areas of our lives. Juggling our mutual responsibilities...  

    bumblebee Ch9. Life is a gamble in which we don't get to deal the cards, but are nevertheless obligated to play them to the best of our ability.  

    bumblebee The best hope is to introduce them to the paradox of perfection: in some settings (relationships), we gain control only by relinquishing it.  

    bumblebee ... can render them insufferable in their personal lives. To be less controlling in their jobs would render them ineffective.  

    bumblebee Ch8. The problem with perfectionists and their pre-occupation with control is that the qualities that make them effective in their work...  

    bumblebee Ch7. I did my best to fit in. I just got tired of it.  

    bumblebee (contd)... to alter their behaviour in ways that allow them to exert greater control over their lives.  

    bumblebee Ch6. While medication can provide crucial, sometimes live-saving relief, people also have an obligation... (contd)  

    bumblebee Ch5. While it takes two people to create a relationship, it only takes one to end it.  

    bumblebee Ch4 Finally, if a person I'm talking to appears wedded determinedly to the past and unwilling to contemplate a better future, I grow impatient.  

    bumblebee Ch3. Many are the ways that parents instill a sense of obligation in their children. In fact, our children owe us nothing.  

    bumblebee Ch2. He says, "Past behaviour is the most reliable predictor of future behaviour" What about when people change? How do we acknowledge that?  

    bumblebee Ch2: We love someone when the importance of his or her needs and desires (to us) rises to the level of our own.  

    bumblebee Ch1: If the map doesn't agree with the ground, the map is wrong.  

    bumblebee 18 chapters. Want to write one best line from each. Let me try. It's gonna be harder when there are more than one lines...

    Maybe when I'm done with the book, I'll pull out a line from the rest of the chapters. 

    You can read this book as many times as you want and still be touched by it. The quotes above won't spoil the book for you, if you ever mean to read it, just like Dr. Livingston's titles didn't change what I would take away from his observations. 

    I'll end this by quoting one of the reviewers/readers of Dr. Livingston's book(s). Mark Helprin, author of the books A Soldier Of The Great War and Winter's Tale says about Dr. Gordon Livingston, "To read him is to trust him and to learn, for his life has been touched by fire, and his motives are absolutely pure."

    1 comment:

    1. Nice review... Makes me feel get the book and read it now :)