On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old

Book, 2018, 198 pp
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Aging as a passage of discovery and engagement

On the Brink of Everything is a brave and beautiful book for all who want to age reflectively, seeking new insights and life-giving ways to engage in the world. “Age itself,” Palmer says, “is no excuse to wade in the shallows. It's a reason to dive deep and take creative risks.”

Looking back on eight decades of life—and on his work as a writer, teacher, and activist—Palmer explores what he's learning about self and world, inviting readers to explore their own experience. In prose and poetry—and three free downloadable songs written for the book by the gifted Carrie Newcomer—he meditates on the meanings of life, past, present, and future. “The laws of nature that dictate sundown dictate our demise. But how we travel the arc toward the sunset of our lives is ours to choose: will it be denial, defiance, or collaboration?”

On the Brink of Everything was written to encourage adults of all ages to explore the way their lives are unfolding. It's not a how-to-do-it book on aging, but a set of meditations in prose and poetry that turn the prism on the meaning(s) of one's life, refracting new light at every turn.

“Parker Palmer is one of our wisest minds and lives and one of my greatest mentors. He has the spirit of a poet and the stature of a prophet. There is no one I'd rather eavesdrop on as he ponders ‘the brink of everything.' This book is a companion for not merely surviving a fractured world but embodying—like Parker—the fiercely honest and gracious wholeness that is ours to claim at every stage of life.” —Krista Tippett, founder of On Being Studios, author of Einstein's God and Becoming Wise

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