Claiming your place at the fire, Living the second half of your life on purpose, by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro was added to our book club reading list. I loved this book’s title from the start. Positive memories of happy family gatherings around a summer campfire immediately spring to mind.

This book recounts several stories of ‘claiming your place at the fire’ —  the inner circle of trusted elders within a community.  Leider and Shapiro encourage us, in our second half of life, to claim our position as ‘new elders’.  The authors suggest we “use the second half of life as an empty canvas, a blank page, a hunk of clay to be crafted on purpose.” Love that suggestion!

To claim one’s place at the fire means to live one’s life on pupose. When we claim our place at the fire, we enter into the circle of vital elders who have been the source of wisdom in society since time immemorial. We do this by courageously reexaming and rediscovering  who we are, where we belong, what we care about, and what our life’s purpose is.” — Leider and Shapiro, Claiming Your Place at the Fire



Claiming your place at the fire: Keeping the Fire Alive

Modern medicine allows us to physically shun aging for longer and longer. These authors fear our youth focus also shuns the value and meaning of aging. “Popular culture reveals a deep denial about aging, a denial far deeper than our wrinkles.”

There are at least three times in life when we ought to be required to go off on a retreat to sit by a fire and reflect on the next stage of our lives. One is when we choose our vocation, another is when we choose a life partner, and the third is when we contemplate retirement.  — Leider & Shapiro, Claiming Your Place at the Fire

We all desire an enhanced and purposeful life, especially as we move away from our careers and into retirement. This book offers steps in a series of “fireside chats/questions” to define and develop your life’s purpose. Steps to becoming a ‘new elder’ and claim your place at the fire.

Claiming Your Place at the Fire

The Four Principle

The book offers four principles or ‘flames’.  “Each of the four principles of new elders is embodied in a characteristic of fire. In claiming our place at the fire as new elders, we claim each of these aspects ourselves.”

  1. Recalling Our Stories
  2. Refinding Our Place
  3. Renewing Our Calling
  4. Reclaiming Our Purpose

“There needs to be a new elder movement that will rekindle the fires necessary for society to productively use the wisdom of age” — Leider & Shapiro, Claiming Your Place at the Fire

Let’s begin a new elder movement: Join us.

We will use this book as a ‘jumping off’ structure for a ‘Purposeful Life’ workshop we’ll be hosting in Spring 2018. Interested in joining us? Drop us a note or comment and we’ll include you in the evolving details.

In the meantime, pick up a copy of this book. Let us know if you enjoyed it as much as we did!