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Review of Arrien's The 2nd Half of Life

Posted Sep 12 2008 2:04pm

Angeles Arrien, cultural anthropologist,educator and consultant has given us a book filled with the spiritual wisdom of many cultures. In The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom, s he tempts us to go deep inside ourselves to access our truest being. In this way each of us has the capacity to “restore, renew, and heal ourselves,” to leave a positive legacy to future generations. How does she do this?

Arrien introduces the reader to the story of the “8 Gates,” metaphorical rites of passage where we confront our demons and our angels. She encourages journaling and contemplation at each gate, as well as daily action to practice those areas that are most difficult for us to attain.

Arrien has organized her book around the 8 gates of wisdom she believes each of us must open and traverse to reach our potential.

In each chapter, she gently guides us to the Task, the Challenges we face at each gate, the Gift we receive once we pass through this gate, what we might Reflect upon and how we can put this into Practice now. So, the book is both contemplative and practical. Here are a few of the Gates she introduces us to:

  • The Silver gate, where we face new experiences of acceptance of the aging of body and mind. We develop curiosity, trust, and see what fosters meaning and vitality. She encourages us to become adventurers in this new state of mind.
  • The Rustic gate, where we deepen our creativity, service to others, and sense of generativity. Here we explore meaningful work, examine our life calling, and consider how we want to be remembered
  • The Bone gate, where we experience our authentic selves, the “bones of who we are.” How and why do we avoid our true selves, she asks us. How do we deceive ourselves? What gets in the way of trusting ourselves? Here we break through the illusion that others are responsible for our well-being and that we can change other people.

In this inspirational book, Arrien provides the structure we need to reassess and repurpose our lives so that we may live to the fullest and leave future generations better than they were when we came into the world. A big undertaking and one each of us is more apt to consider as we encounter the 2 nd half of life.

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