Embracing Abundance: Unpacking the Challenges and Opportunities of Aging

with Rick Moody,

Retired Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs, AARP

This week on the Art of Aging, host Rev. Beth Long-Higgins chats with Rick Moody, former Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs at AARP in Washington, D.C. During the episode, Rick and Beth discuss the concept of abundant aging, tackling ageism, and embracing life’s later stages with a positive outlook. Rick shares his personal experiences with aging, including adapting to changes like hearing loss. They explore the importance of life review, the contemplative aspect of dreams in aging, and the continuous pursuit of meaning and purpose throughout life. Rick also touches on his work with climate change and its intersection with ageism. The conversation highlights the significance of adaptation, wisdom, and active engagement in creating a fulfilling life as one ages. Don’t miss this episode!
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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • The meaning of ageism (1:14)
  • Experiencing ageism (3:18)
  • Adapting to aging (6:37)
  • Retirement and freedom (8:08)
  • Life review and adaptation (11:30)
  • Overcoming self-limiting beliefs (14:55)
  • Abundance and facing reality (19:25)
  • Dreams and messages (21:32)
  • Dreams and Timeless Messages (24:46)
  • Contemplative Prayer and Inner Reflection (25:41)
  • Importance of Dream Work (26:56)
  • Active Wisdom and Mastery (29:19)
  • Life Review and Recycled Experiences (32:35)
  • Hope and Purpose in Aging (33:21)
  • Reflections on Aging and Connecting with Others (35:21)
  • Inspirational Figures in Aging (37:19)


Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit abundantagingpodcast.com


Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 00:07
Hello and welcome to The Art of Aging part of the abundant aging podcast series from United Church Homes. And in this show we take a look at what it means to age in America and other places around the world with positive and empowering conversations that Curt challenges and inspires and encourages all to age with abundance. Today, we’re pleased to welcome Rick Moody. Rick is a retired executive and most recently vice president of academic affairs with AARP. But he has a long history of education, advocacy and good works in the aging space, including his role as executive director of the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College, and Chairman of the Board of Elderhostel. Currently, Rick is behind the human values and aging newsletter with over 10,000 subscribers and supports many nonprofits with both fundraising and marketing help. He’s also the author of over 100, scholarly, scholarly articles, as well as a number of books. Of course, that’s not all. He’s got new things up his sleeve. And we’re going to unpack that and more on the show today. Welcome, Rick. Just a reminder that this podcast series is sponsored by United Church Homes with the Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging. To learn more about the center, including our annual symposium in October, you can visit UnitedChurchHomes.org/Parker-Center. So first of all, it’s hard to take your entire professional life Ric and condense it down into a few short sentences. But at the heart, I think everything you have done is helping to address ageism. Yeah. And why? Why have you spent too much of your life and your current life now in retirement in this area?

Rick Moody 01:56
Oh, it’s a really very simple answer to that question. I used to work for the man who invented the word ageism, his name was Robert Butler. But at the time that I worked for him, this goes back more than 20 years. I didn’t think of myself as one of those people. Because I’m 79 years old now. So do the math. I was 59, then those people are people who are old. So my job is to help protect them, help them get rid of ageism. And then it’s a little bit like a scholar of Japanese who teaches Japanese his whole life. And then one day he actually visits Japan. Well, that’s me, I visited Japan, well, not Japan, I actually have visited Japan by the way. That’s another story. I visited old age. Now I visited, but I’m here. Just last week, Beth, since you and I talked, I had my 79th birthday. That’s another way of saying your 80th year. I never imagined myself like that. I’m like most people, I don’t think of myself as old. That’s the problem. If we don’t think of ourselves as whatever it is, then we don’t want to go there. And actually, there is a good way to think of it. And that’s what you call abundant aging. The abundance of life is all good. Thanks,

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 03:18
Rick. And happy birthday. I was remembering as you were talking that you had a birthday last time. How have you experienced or seen ageism in your own life, then?

Rick Moody 03:30
Actually, I’ve seen very little ageism as a target for me. I talked to lots of people who experienced this, but I haven’t experienced it. Instead, I’ve been in very good health. And so as a result, I consider myself Gee, I’m one of the exceptions. Maybe I’m not growing old at all. That’s a bit of an allusion so that if we’re not speaking about ageism, that is prejudice or a detrimental negative idea about old people. We might ask ourselves this. Maybe we ourselves. I’m speaking about Rick Moody right now. Think of ourselves, once again, as not one of them until something challenging happens. Just this morning, I got a message from one of my old friends Peter Whitehouse, MD, a very distinguished neurologist and specialist in Alzheimer’s disease, even as we’re having this zoom call right now. He’s undergoing heart surgery, which he didn’t expect. And that’s really a description about how people encounter age, age doesn’t happen. It happens to somebody else until something happens to them. Maybe they get retired and people stop returning their phone calls. Maybe they experience some mild health impairment. Just before this call started. I put on my hearing aids. I didn’t think I needed hearing AIDS. But my wife says, No wreck, you’re always talking loud, very loud. I realized there’s a reason for that. I didn’t put my hearing aids on. That’s why the men need the women.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 05:14
That as a matter of fact, Rick, I had the exact same experience about 18 months ago at the age of 59. And I went in to get just a baseline check in. Yeah, I’ll just bet you’re below the baseline. And it took me six weeks before I’m like, Okay, let me try. Maybe that’s exactly right. You know, that’s kind of internalized ageism. I’m not old enough to have hearing loss, in spite of the fact that my mother has had hearing loss for a very long time. Yeah.

Rick Moody 05:46
Wonderful example. And so when the audiologist says, here’s your problem, blah, blah, blah, my response is, could you speak up, I couldn’t quite hear you. That actually happened, by the way.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 05:59
And I don’t know what your experiences were but actually, my relationship with my spouse, David, improved significantly once I got the hearing aids in because we were constantly arguing because that’s right, I wasn’t speaking loud enough, or he wasn’t speaking loud.

Rick Moody 06:15
I mean, what you just described, but we’ve just described here is a great way of talking about ageism, and population aging and abundance of life, it’s actually quite parallel to climate change, which is an area that I work on these days, which is, it’s already happening just as climate changes, but maybe we don’t recognize it, we don’t acknowledge it. And one reason why we don’t is because either we think we can’t stop it. That’s not true for climate change, we can modify it. But maybe we think we can’t adapt to it. But we can adapt to agents. And what we’ve just talked about is a simple case of hearing loss, which is adaptation. And you can’t adapt unless you recognize that it’s happening. So one definition of successful aging, the definition I like to use is just three words. decrement, with compensation, that’s it. Just three words. So you have some decrement, maybe you can’t walk so easily anymore, you need a different kind of shoe, you need hearing aids, maybe you have to start taking some blood pressure pills, as I do. I’m not here to talk about Britain, OTs medical condition. But I think that people have different challenges. And the question that you have to ask yourself is, what can I do to adapt to it so that I can still have the abundant life that I want to have? That’s really the challenge.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 07:40
Exactly. So I want to come back to the fact that in my introduction, I was referred to as retired. And I think actually, when we talked earlier, you said you proudly retired. So you don’t shy away from that term. I talk to a lot of people who do and they use lots of different words, requirements, right? Read new means. Why is it that you don’t shy away from

Rick Moody 08:07
this term, the only people who shy away from the word retirement are people who are the healthy, wealthy and wise, that is the people who are in good shape in some way or other, and they want to continue to be that good example is Joe Biden, he wants to continue being President of the United States. I don’t want to talk about the politics of it. But what I do want to say is that Mr. Biden is a couple of years older than me, he has some issues, everybody knows that. He knows it. The question is, can you adapt to it? Can you use your strengths? And if you can, then adaptation is a very good thing. And we need to be looking for those opportunities to adapt. And when we find them, we may find that we have life abundantly. That’s just an example. And it’s a trend. So you ask why I refer to retirement because I enjoy it. I have enough money, I have good health. But most of all, I have freedom. When I worked for AARP, I was a senior executive in a very large, very complex organization, right in the middle of all the politics of everything in Washington, DC, which is where I lived. Well, that has a lot of good things to it, but it also has some bad things. So be very careful about what you say. You can’t say anything you want to say. And things that you say might be used against you or against your employer, in my case, ERPs. I made some mistakes like that. I won’t even rehearse what they were. But everybody can make those mistakes in any career that you have, including the career of being a parent, by the way. I’m a parent now and I have two adult children aged 35 and 39. My son and my daughter, so I live here in San Mateo to be near our grandchildren. So I’m kind of a professional grandfather at this point, and that’s a good thing. People look forward to something like that for the most part. And I think that if we can begin to identify things in retirement that are positive, that are enjoyable, then people will say, Gee, I can’t wait for that. And by the way, that’s already true for people, if you’re working in a sweater factory or a canner, or something like that, you may be doing the same thing, day after day. And you may be looking forward to the time when you can retire. In fact, that’s true for people who have occupations which are difficult, which are burdensome, in one way or another, the people who are at the top of the food chain, if I could put it that way. And I was one of those people, they often say, Well, gee, I want to continue doing this. And I could have continued doing that at AARP, just as people can often continue in their jobs, which is a good thing, we want to give more opportunities like that. But at the same time, we want to recognize that for many people, jobs are not the beginning and end of life, they want something better, they want something different. And that’s what retirement can mean.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 11:10
So you’ve talked a couple of times here and looked back at your own life. How is that? Is that a part of what life review is? I know Butler had talked about that? I think so. And how has one reviewed your own life in eight and enabled you to be able to do what you’re doing today.

Rick Moody 11:30
I’m not sure how it’s empowered me, because in many ways, I’m doing the same things that I was doing 20 or 30 years ago. You mentioned my newsletter, human values and aging. That goes out to the 1000s of people that I was joining years ago to so many things we can do. Blank tennis, not that I’m good at tennis, but golf, anything like that people can continue to do those things. Maybe some things they can’t do so easily or so readily. That’s okay. You do the things you can do decrement with compensation. And one form of compensation is doing the things that you know how to do. I think I’ll give you one good example, great pianists. But when they get to be very old, sometimes they can’t play quite so fast. So they deliberately Rubinstein was like this deliberately slowing down some things so that they can do fast. Something else. In other words, they have a kind of decrement with compensation. People do this with typing too with the if they can’t type. So fast. Older typists, by the way, cannot type as fast as younger ones, but they often type better. Because they’re more careful. They’re looking ahead, they’re looking at before what it’s going to come. And that’s the kind of skill if in a strong sense, we can even call it wisdom, being able to recognize what’s come before and that really is what life review was all about. Life Review was not a sentimental journey or thinking about all the good things I did, or thinking about all the bad things I did that can lead to regret. By the way, it’s no, it’s looking at your life in a different way. What did it mean? Why did I do that? Who was I? What kind of person was I? You know, I’ve spent many years giving talks on Rembrandt’s self portraits. He did his self portrait more often than any artist in history. 10% of his output consists of self portraits, people don’t always know that. And as he got older, his self portraits became different. But they were still Rembrandt. He was less he didn’t have to prove himself. He was retired, so to speak, retired from having to prove himself but not retired from painting. And the great art critic Kumara Swamy once said, it’s not that the artist is a special kind of person. It’s that each person is a special kind of artist. That’s a great idea to take in. And we think of our lives that way. We realize that just like Rembrandt, or Georgia O’Keeffe, there are many great artists like this. We begin to think of ourselves, still having capacity, but maybe doing it in a different way. That to me is what life review can mean. Yeah,

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 14:12
absolutely. Twyla Tharp, the dancer, choreographer in her book, keeps on moving. One of my favorite quotes is, so you used to be able to know how to do six pairs. What’s to the left? Doesn’t matter. The question now is after you do six,

Rick Moody 14:28
right, that’s right. This is a beautiful statement, because her book is titled Just keep moving. Yep. Yeah, that’s great advice to people of all ages, but particularly as we grow older, and I try to do that too. So

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 14:44
So Rick, what are some of the things that keep us from aging positively or positively?

Rick Moody 14:52
You’re setting you’re setting at the beginning. ageism? Ageism is that little voice in my head that says you’re too old for that. You really can’t do this. And everybody has that little voice in their head because we’ve gotten that voice into us from the time we were very young. And I had that too when I retired. But I listened to the voice. And I said, No, it doesn’t have to be that way. So I did whitewater rafting. I did ballroom, ballroom dancing. I took a week-long program in mine, just in order to, you know, move, just keep moving. Each step along the way, I try to look for things that I’m not good at. I took a week-long program and contemplative photography. I was the worst photographer in that group of 12 people, absolutely the worst, it didn’t matter. I’m retired, I don’t care what they think. I’m here to learn photography, contemplative photography. That’s the way that we get beyond it by not listening to the voice in our head, those voices. And by the way, this doesn’t just apply to ageism, or negative views of aging, it applies to all sorts of things. Women have their own challenge, right? People have their challenges. If they are not good at music, or art, oh, you’ll never be good at music, you’ll never be good at art. I’ve just taken up voice lessons recently, for the first time in my life, even though I’ve been singing since I was a college student, high school student. But I didn’t take the lessons. I realized my voice needs help. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. So that’s why we have to always be overcoming what my son taught me. This is my 35 year old son, he taught me the phrase, self limiting beliefs, self limiting beliefs. As soon as he said that, I said, Wow, you’re onto something. self limiting beliefs. And that’s another reason why the boy, by the way, why elders like me, I’m 79 years old now, just this past week, why we have to be in contact with young people. Very important, because we can learn from them. And they can learn from us. Yeah, absolutely.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 17:12
My mother in law, raised six kids and used to say she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. And so a limiting belief was self limiting. And pen. I’m like raising six kids is really creative. She, after the kids were all gone, and she was well into her. In her 70s. She started taking a China painting course. There you go. And by the time she passed away at the age of 80, she had painted some pieces of China for all six kids, all 14 grandchildren, one of whom wasn’t even hadn’t even been born yet. Yeah, and so that message that I’m not creative was a self limiting belief until she decided, well, I’m gonna try something new. So it is. And

Rick Moody 18:00
That’s why I had the great privilege to work for Robert Butler, who himself overcame so many self limiting beliefs. He created the field of Geriatric medicines. And one of the great privileges of my life, you know, we think about life review, was my work with Elderhostel. It’s not Milton Rhodes Scholar, by the way, because a lot of people didn’t like that word, elder. They said, Well, what does that mean? Elders, I’m not going to be one of them. Once again, that’s a self limiting belief. But the people who go to the older hostel program, Rhodes Scholar Program, as we call it, now. They experience the world with creativity with curiosity. They go to new places, I’ve gone on many of those programs myself, I’ll admit, and I ran programs like that. And I loved meeting with the old people. And I enjoyed it very much. And they enjoyed it, too. Yeah,

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 18:54
absolutely. Absolutely. Well, Rick, you had mentioned along the way that one of your first books that you wrote, you are talking about abundance, and in relation to aging, and because that’s a big deal for us United Church homes. And now that you are this is, what 40 years later, and you are in elderhood. What about that book? Would you rewrite today? And what about your concepts of IV abundance when you were 40? ring true to today?

Rick Moody 19:24
What? What I would, I’m not sure that I would rewrite very much of it at all, to tell you the truth and not because I say the same thing over and over again. I don’t. I’m constantly saying different things, doing different things. But that title of that book comes from something in, in the gospels in the New Testament, when Jesus says I came that they might have life and have it abundantly. Well, how does one have life abundantly, not necessarily by escaping death, but by facing reality and living for In the life within us, which is always there. And that’s what Jesus was calling people to do. Now, not everybody listened. Not everybody wanted to hear. But some did. And that’s the important point. Some will hear, and some in the US can overcome those self limiting beliefs. So we have to become born again, if you want to put it in those terms every day. And don’t think of it as an event that happens to a person at one point in life. And gee, I’m a born again, Christian or something. That’s great. But that’s not what Jesus was talking about. He was talking about something that even his own disciples didn’t understand. Lots of people don’t understand this, but it’s true.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 20:46
Yeah, it strikes me that you’re talking about the polarity between self limiting beliefs and abundance. Yes, those. Those are really opposites. And they are, it’s an understanding of abundance that helps us overcome the self limit limitations that we believe Yeah, it is. So when it comes to one of your current projects, one of the two current books I believe, that you’re working on. Yeah. And speaking of abundance, and that has to do with dreams in the second half of life. What has brought you to this topic? And Where is your passion for this? Where’s that leaving you?

Rick Moody 21:29
I don’t have to have dreams come to me, in the middle of the night. And every person dreams, not just every human being but animals dream of mammals, at least probably not reptiles, but birds do. So any warm blooded creatures dreaming. We don’t know what dreaming means. We don’t know why dreaming is there. But we know it must have some purpose or some function. Because it occupies our time, our life, every night when we go to sleep. So this is one of those great mysteries. But if we pay attention to it, dreams may send us messages. If only we can listen, we can pay attention. I like to say dreams show us what we already know, but cannot yet see. And that’s the sense in which dreams can be very meaningful. I’ll give you one example. Do you know the name Ashton Applewhite? Was she on the show? Perhaps she was not yet. Well, before I ever met Ashton Applewhite. I was hosting a positive aging Conference, which I did nine of them for AARP. And she was going to be the keynote speaker. And the night before I met her for the first time, I had a dream in which I was 70 years old at the time. So we’re going back nine years, I was trying to get into medical school. And the dean said, No, you’re too old. We can’t accept you for a week that’s just not possible, or brick. And I was very angry, I kept beating on the table again, and again, I need to be in medical school, I need to get in here. And it was only when I met Ashton in real life. And she did a terrific job of giving her speech, that I realized what that dream meant. It meant that ageism was in me. And the fear that I would be rejected in that case, going to medical school, as it happens, when I was a college student, this was a while ago, between 1963 and 1967. I started out being pre-med. That was my intention. I wanted organic chemistry to kind of change my mind about that. But it does that for a lot of people. But it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Not because I’m against medicine. I have a lot of doctor friends, I’ve worked with medical people, I have great respect for medicine, and for all health, and all the health professions, but I needed to get beyond that illusion that I had. And my dream in a way he was telling me the same thing. You need to get beyond the illusion that you need to do something new and different. Like going to medical school when you’re 17 years old. No, you don’t need to do that. And you don’t need to be angry about it either. You need to find a different way of being. I went and got a different doctorate. My case is Doctor of Philosophy. I was still interested in medical things. I did write the first book. You didn’t mention this, but that’s okay. Was in 1992 the first book on Biomedical Ethics and aging Johns Hopkins University Press. I’m not saying this to sell my book. It’s more than 30 years out of date at this point. But my point is that the things that we did in the past, they’re still with us. The past isn’t over Faulkner said this Faulkner the great novelist from Mississippi, he said, the past isn’t over. It’s not even past. And that’s true for our dream life and our dream life shows us part of ourselves, which is outside time. So you asked, “What, why am I interested in dreams, because they can give us important messages?” Sometimes very deep messages, sometimes messages we don’t understand. That’s okay. You know, again, I keep quoting the Bible, but this is, after all, the church of Christ is putting this on

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 25:39
United Church of Christ, your

Rick Moody 25:44
pastors, there were Martha and Mary, remember the two more encounter each other and Martha is, is busy making the food and everything and Mary is just sitting there, okay? And she becomes upset Martha does with Mary. And finally, Jesus says, Mary has chosen the better part. Mary has chosen the better part. What does that mean? That means that something in Mary pondered these things in her heart? What does it mean to ponder in your heart, it means to set aside time, to be alone, to be silent, to be inner. And that’s also an important part of aging. It’s an important part of dreaming. It’s an important part of life. You don’t have to wait to become old to take up what is called in the Christian tradition, contemplative prayer, contemplative prayer.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 26:43
Yeah, exactly. Are you more aware of your dreams at this stage in life than you were? Previously when maybe you were working professionally and being busy and the deadlines and all those? Yeah, I can’t

Rick Moody 26:57
be sure that I can’t be sure of it. And the reason I say that is because I keep track of my dreams. I write down in a notebook every day when I remember my dream. So I try to remember my dreams. Not everybody is in that category. Not everybody is a dream worker like I am. That’s okay. And when people say to me things like, Well, I don’t dream. Or sometimes they say, I don’t remember my dreams. Is that a bad thing? Dreams do their work, and you do your work. Your pancreas is doing its work all the time when you’re sleeping and when you’re waking. And the same is true of something in us which is dreaming, which is there. It’s kind of like the stars are there. Even right now. I’m looking out the window and the sky is blue here in San Mateo, where I live. So I can’t see the scar. I can’t can’t see the stars. I see the clouds. Well, you know that great song. I’ve looked at life from both sides now. Yeah. Okay. When she says that in several different bokeh was saying it but the answer is, I see something different now. And that’s the meaning of life review. The stars are there all the time, you just don’t see them. During the daylight. The dreams are there all the time. You just don’t remember them. You can try. And it can be helpful. But don’t feel bad if you don’t remember your dreams. They’re there. They’re doing their work. Yeah,

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 28:26
I usually remember mine during the day. And something else will happen. And it’s like, oh, I have a dream about that.

Rick Moody 28:34
That’s right. It’s called deja vu.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 28:37
Deja vu. There

Rick Moody 28:39
we go. I’ve already seen it. That’s the French language. And I’ve recently started taking up French again. I subscribe to Lamone. So as my wife to improve our cognition, and to improve our mastery of the language, beautiful language, but again, the voice in you that says, Oh, I’m too old to learn this. Or I’m too old to take voice lessons or mine lessons or whatever. No, don’t listen to that voice. Don’t feel that you have to do it just because somebody else is doing it. But do the thing that is close to your heart. Ponder it and your heart.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 29:19
Learn. I think it’s Marjorie. So Bankston, who talks in her book by Creative Aging about both the need for beginner’s mind and mastery. Yeah, we need to continue to master those things that we’ve been doing for a long time in new ways. And then began learning new things.

Rick Moody 29:37
And I’m glad you mentioned that because Mary Catherine Bateson, which was her full name, was actually the keynote speaker at one of our positive aging conferences, and I had the great good fortune to get to meet her to have dinner with her. And to hear from her about her life and her own story. She’s now no longer with us. But the message that she left in her book is very much with us. And that’s also a message about aging, that our time is not limited. If you’re 79 years old, like me, more of your life is in the past than in the future. We have to face that we have to acknowledge it. And we have to work with it, to think about what our legacy could be.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 30:26
I had the opportunity of hearing Mary Katherine and Beatson, as well, it was life changing, and I was looking at, I usually keep composing your further life right here by my, by my computer, and I refer to it often. And I love the fact that she was advocating for what we call this time of life and later life to be called the stage of active wisdom. Yes, a

Rick Moody 30:50
great grace, accurate wisdom. And you know, that metaphor of composing. My favorite composer, very simple as Johann Sebastian Bach, people don’t end the B minor Mass, which is his great masterpiece. People don’t know that. Bach never heard the B minor Mass performed. He was a Lutheran, he was not a Catholic to begin with. There was no such thing as the mass and the Lutheran church, but he wrote it anyway. And what he used in it, he used pieces in it that he’d previously written, that were previously parts of cantatas or other performances, and he recycled them. So that’s in itself. In his old age, this was like, along with the Goldberg Variations, you’re beginning to get the idea that I’m into music, which is true. But there’s a metaphor there. There’s an allegory there, that Bach in his life, maybe he was the greatest of all composers. Right up there was Mozart put it that way? He was reusing things previously. That’s the kind of life review if you think of it that way. And, but he’s using them in a different way. They aren’t the same. And even the B minor Mass, the last, the last part of the beyond your VAT math ends with the phrase, don’t know, bees patch him, give us peace. I can almost not say that without crying. Because it’s so profound. But that piece in the domino bees patch, and it reuses a melody that happened earlier in the D minor Mass. Once again, always recycling. Yeah,

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 32:30
Another musical idea is variations on a theme. Exactly. Our lives are variations on these themes. Yes, things which are most important to us, which gives meaning and purpose in our lives. Yes.

Rick Moody 32:44
And when people say, Gee, I’m old, I no longer have a purpose, I don’t have a meaning. The meaning is all around us. We have to open our eyes and look for it. And that, by the way, is true from my other book that I’m working on, which is on climate change and aging, because so many people are in despair, and they’re hopeless. The great environment, environmentalist David Orr once said, hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up. And that’s a great description. Great. That’s not me. That’s David. Or,

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 33:20
You know, Rick, I think we’re gonna have to come back for another podcast because I really want to talk to you more specifically about that book and the topic of, we’ll do it, you just mean climate, climate change.

Rick Moody 33:32
I’m here all the time. I’m retired, remember?

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 33:38
So as we bring this conversation and anticipate future conversations to close, I’m going to ask you three questions that we’ve queued up to. But first, before we do that, how can people find you?

Rick Moody 33:55
They can find me very simply on digital means. HR moody, that’s one word H. Perry is moody, my full name. But people call me Rick, HR moody@yahoo.com. And anybody can write me a message and I will reply, I reply to people every day, lots and lots of people, and I’ll be happy to send the sample of my newsletter, human values and

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 34:22
aging. And I was gonna say, how can they subscribe to your newsletter? That’s

Rick Moody 34:26
the answer. It’s for free. I tell people, my advice is free. And it’s worth every penny it costs. So the newsletter is free. And I’m not selling anything. I’m not that I knew mentioned myself and my own books. I never mentioned any of that. I mentioned other people’s work. That’s what I do. I’m really a helper to help other people. That’s the answer to your question. They can send me a message and they’ll get a copy. And if they I only send that newsletter to people who specifically say I want to subscribe to it, otherwise I don’t send it to anybody . All right.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 35:00
So I’ll just testify that I am a happy newsletter subscriber and I look forward to that. Yeah. Okay, so here we are into the last three questions. First one. When you think about how you’ve aged, what do you think has changed about you have grown with you, that you really like about yourself.

Rick Moody 35:21
What I really like about myself is connecting with people. And now I know, Beth long, Higgins. And we’re connected. I think it was the great philosopher, Martin Buber who said, all real living is meeting. And that’s what he was talking about, not meetings and faculty meetings and things like that. But connecting with people, so that it’s possible to do that. Even in old age. It absolutely is. So that’s the thing I like about I used to think I was, you know, moody got to be a scholar. You know, I’m not a doctor, I’ll be a scholar. No, I’m a connector. And that’s what I appreciate about myself and what I appreciate about others.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 36:05
Great. Okay, next question. What has surprised you the most about you, as you have aged?

Rick Moody 36:13
What has surprised me the most is how I keep making the same mistakes over and over again, even though I keep note of them in my notebooks, and I make a strong intention to correct myself. But, you know, I still keep making, for example, I talk much too loud. I was in a restaurant with my wife recently, my wife of 55 years, who said, Excuse me, Rick, would you speak up? There’s still a few people in this restaurant who can’t hear you. And that’s a true story, by the way. And what she’s pointing to is that, yes, I talk too loud. So I tried to overcome that. But it’s not easy. So that surprised me that, you know, despite my trying to overcome my bad habits, they’re still with me. They don’t go away. That’s my surprise.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 37:08
Great. And lastly, is there someone that you’ve met, or who has been in your life that has set an example for you and an aging someone that inspires you to age abundantly? Yes.

Rick Moody 37:19
Jan Hively, is the example. And she is a person who’s in her early 90s. Now she lives. And now I think, in Seattle or Portland, I forgot which your memory is not quite as good. And when you’re 79, as it was when you were 69. But Jen Hively is the one who inspires me, I even have a portrait of her as the conclusion to my book on aging and climate change. But along with her, I would also mention Houston Smith, who is more well known to people who wrote a very famous book, the religions of man about comparative religion. And I had occasion to spend actually a fair amount of time with Houston Smith, and I’ve learned a lot from him. And he was a person who found deep meaning in all the religions of the world. And he eventually even practiced most of those religions in his own life. And he was a person, by the time he got to be in his 90s. He got to a point where he was beginning to get a little frail. You know what he did? He lived in Berkeley, California, where he retired to, he didn’t live there originally. He checked himself into a nursing home deliberately, in order to live there so that he wouldn’t be a burden on his wife of many years. And what he did once inside the nursing home, he started helping other people in the nursing home. So Houston Smith, to me, was an example. Not just of a scholar, but of a one would say in Yiddish, omit a real human being. And so as Jan Hively, those are two people who I would put up there. Well,

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 39:01
It’s really interesting. Rick is one of my aging Heroes and Ruth Peiffer. And she also was in her mid 90s, had been living in assisted living, had a health incident in the hospital and she told her kids to clean up my apartment, move me into the nursing home, and they were like, you’re only gonna be there for rehab mom. It’s not and the doctors like you don’t have to be like, Nope, I’m moving. I’m making the decision. So you don’t have to make it. She moved into the nursing home, and she was one of the best volunteers for the next 30 to go. He was one of the healthiest. That’s right. She went and she read to people and checked on him. And yeah, so similar spirit to your

Rick Moody 39:42
The Dalai Lama is now in his 80s and the Dalai Lama. He said, Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Yeah, it is always possible. Message. That’s the message.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 39:58
Well, Rick, we could go on For a long time, but like I said, we will come back to another conversation at some point here. Okay, so I want to thank you and I want to thank our listeners for listening to this episode of The Art of Aging part of the Abundant Aging podcast series from United Church Homes. And we want to hear from you what’s changed about you, as you’ve aged that you love? What has surprised you most? And how do you define abundant aging? Who is your abundant aging hero or your abundant aging influencer? Join us at abundantagingpodcast.com to share your ideas, you can also give us feedback when you visit the Ruth Frost Parker Center website at UnitedChurchHomes.org/Parker-center. And if you’re attending the 2024 on aging conference in San Francisco this year, you can I will be there as well as our producer hear Mike, and we’d love to I will

Rick Moody 40:56
be there you know, and I’m gonna be having a positive eight during lunch. And if people send me a message, I can get you an invitation.

Rev. Beth Long-Higgins 41:03
Okay, I’ll send you a message. Rick, I’ll see you there. I realize that great, great. See you in a couple of weeks and Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Rick, and blessings!