Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (2/19)
With the “The Wilds of Aging” Rick Lamplugh writes his third book in five years. It originates from a journaling experience that preceded his two other novels. While Lamplugh usually writes of adventure, nature and the wilderness that he holds near and dear, this new book reflects a different type of nature – the essence of the heart and mind. Yet it certainly qualifies as an adventure. This is an internal exploration that is no less greater than scaling a soaring mountain. For a period of one year, Lamplugh logs his perceptions of aging, death and the afterlife as he tends to his backyard garden. The topics he tackles are sometimes difficult to process. Due to the revealing and healing nature of the work, Lamplugh describes this experience as meeting with his “paper therapist.”
Following the passing of four important people in his life, Lamplugh is confronted with the fact that he too may become incapacitated or succumb to disease. As an avid hiker and biker, this is a tough pill for him to swallow and one from which he initially puts up a wall to keep from experiencing. The journaling allows him to examine the limitations of growing older, dying and also the fearful aspect of what happens after one passes away. As the seasons change and he continues to cultivate his plots, he develops a scenario for the next period of his life.
After reading his second book, “Deep Into Yellowstone,” I was ready for a good read. But this story is filled with such delightful analogies and vivid vignettes I was entirely enthralled. Each conversation or life experience Lamplugh shares either elicits a smile, a nod of confirmation or a tear. They touch your soul and create a bond between author and reader that is rare and uplifting. You will want to share this book with those you love to keep the connection going.
The analogy of a garden and Lamplugh’s life is simple yet multi-faceted. As he digs up old memories, plants the seeds for fresh adventures and cultivates his new way of thinking, he reaps the harvest and gains the fruits of his labors. Lamplugh publishes independently so that he can keep command of his word. And his words are sincere and unaffected to be sure. But he keeps them compartmentalized so that they can be digested and reflected upon.
As I grow older myself and witness those I love facing disease and death, I realize that preparing for the inevitable is essential. To face an unknown or a strong fear at the time you are most vulnerable is scary and overwhelming. Although one cannot “plan” for death, preparing your mind for it is a true comfort.
Through all the quiet moments, the times of struggle and frustration of creating a prosperous garden, Rick Lamplugh connects with the process of aging. His realization is that growing older is just another challenging adventure in a lifecycle. Taking the time to ruminate on your existence and your demise is important to cultivating the soil of experience. “The Wilds of Aging” helps us gain perspective and direction to continue this profound journey and treasure the time we have left.