Love Fills In the Blanks is an insightful heart-opening book that examines paradoxes of aging as they form from the direct experience of the author, Elizabeth Bugental, and of many of her students, each of whom is more than seventy years of age.
For Elizabeth, many things became apparent during the writing of this book. One is that we live in contradictions and paradoxes with the main ones being that as we grow old, we are more conscious of living than we are of dying and of finding than we are of losing. So it is natural that this book forms itself around paradoxes. In the pages within seven paradoxes are emphasized, although there could be hundreds. The book suggests that the right conditions for seeing and embracing the exquisite beauty that life offers us while at the same time experiencing difficulties that life presents us are all present once we approach old age consciously although at times it is difficult to stay aware of the possible hidden in the seemingly impossible.
The reality is that when we care for an ailing partner or adult child, contend with our own aches and pains, face unwanted surgeries, lose a spouse or sibling or friend, we get a rough shove into awareness. But with or without that shove, losses slowly mount and force us to wake up and deal with the inevitable. The paradoxes in this experience are a daunting and beautiful learning. As Elizabeth says, “I find myself seeing them everywhere now and I find that comforting. No need to decide, but to just acknowledge both sides of the seeming contradictions, and to live enjoyably with one in each hand for better balance and perspective.”
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At 87, I am the sort of reader who can be gratefully jolted and relaxed by Elizabeth Bugental s paradoxes. Speaking of giving and receiving, she says Saved and Savior. Which is which? Who cares? and one is shaken into a happier understanding of the matter. This is a touching, wise, and instructive little book.
-Richard Wilbur, Former US Poet Laureate and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Love Fills In the Blanks is a book to read again and again. Each reading will bring a new layer of understanding. We share with Elizabeth, the richness that is only possible as we age and our vision is stripped clear of the confi dent denial of our younger lives. Aging is, as she says, the journey of losing and finding. As Elizabeth teaches, paradoxes are to be embraced. We are all living them. Paradoxes not only express the fundamental ambiguity of our lives, embracing them also carves our capacity for being. As we hold with loving intensity one side of the paradox and acknowledge the other, our capacity to hold both increases.
-Alison Bonds Shapiro, MBA, Chair of the Board of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center
Opening to paradox opens the door to wisdom, and this book helps open that door.
-Roger Walsh, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Philosophy and Anthropology, University of California, and author of Essential Spirituality: The Seven Central Practices