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Give life a "Second Wind'

Is society moving too fast? Are people losing connection with themselves and each other? Does life’s second half really matter? If “Yes,” how can it improve?

Jacket cover of Dr. William H. Thomas book that serves as the basis for his non-fiction theatrical event, "Second Wind."
Jacket cover of Dr. William H. Thomas book that serves as the basis for his non-fiction theatrical event, "Second Wind."secondwindtour.org/
Theatrical event designed to help seniors navigate the second half of their lives.
Theatrical event designed to help seniors navigate the second half of their lives.secondwindtour.org

Everybody asks these questions, but few people have answers. One person who addresses these issues is Dr. William H. Thomas. As the founder of the Eden Alternative to deinstitutionalize long-term care, he is one of the nation’s “Top 10 Innovators” according to the “Wall Street Journal.” He also is the chief motivator behind the 25-city “Second Wind” tour event that is coming to the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall on Friday, May 9, 2014 from 1-5 p.m.

Called “a non-fiction theater event,” its two acts combine spoken word, innovative set design, film, and music to redress the imbalance in American culture. Its aim is to provide what Thomas calls “a slower, deeper, and more connected approach to our lives, our work, and our communities.”

The first act consists of five monologues with Dr. Thomas, consumer health expert Dr. Janet Taylor, and a number of local speakers. The second act features the 30-minute documentary “Alive Inside” and a live musical performance by the founder of Musicians for World Harmony, Samite Mulando. This holistic combination of art and information provides an evidence-based approach “to growth, change, aging, health, and wellness” that “reframes life after adulthood” as the next stage of human growth and development.

The message is three-fold. The first is to slow down. Measuring people’s lives in terms of speed and productivity are what Thomas considers “the inevitable breakdown of personal relationships, health, well-being and community.” His second injunction is to reject the notion that aging limits people’s capacity for growth. Embrace it rather as an opportunity to plumb “deep inside ourselves” and access that “reservoir of feelings” and “emotional control and insight” that characterizes life beyond adulthood, i.e. “elderhood.” The third part involves creating an “eldertopia” whereby this wisdom is connected to, protected and valued by the greater community of all ages.

As Thomas says, so many people “often feel that [their] lives are out of balance.” Baby Boomers and other seniors often see themselves and their roles as second class citizens in contemporary society. “Second Wind” offers a chance to stoke the imagination and discuss new ways for them to provide “that gentle hand on the shoulder” of everyone in the community and enjoy “a healthier, more balanced life cycle.” Wouldn't you enjoy being part of that conversation?