The Age of Waiting: Heart Traces and Song Lines in the Anthropocene

Douglas J. Penick. Arrowsmith, $20 trade paper (186p) ISBN 978-1-7346416-4-6
In this illuminating work, novelist Penick (Journey of the North Star) explores contemporary crises using the frame of a classic story from Buddhism. The young Buddha, as Prince Siddhartha, once wandered outside his father’s palace and discovered old age, sickness, and death—leading him to the path of enlightenment. Penick maps how these three afflictions manifest in “the era of a world man-made,” Penick musing on ecological disaster, personal medical emergencies, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the world as a place of suffering “ever at its end.” He examines anxiety expressed as apocalyptic fear and argues it is innate in human nature to desire a world “perpetually renewed.” Penick writes how, as an older adult, his understanding of the world has become destabilized by younger generations, and suggests reassurance only comes from the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha: it is through seeing, acknowledging, and living compassionately within suffering that clarity and wisdom can be found. By reflecting on personal as well as global issues, Penick models an unflinching but also compassionate orientation toward life. This call for courage in the face of crisis persuasively applies Buddhist precepts to modern concerns. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 12/31/2020
Genre: Lifestyle
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