North Franklin author addresses the upside of elders
Paul Dunion, a renowned psychotherapist who taught philosophy at Mohegan Community College and resides in North Franklin, recently published a new book, “My Days With Emma: A Soulful Path to Elderhood.”
He hopes the book will show that getting old isn’t about what you’ve lost. It’s more about what you’ve gained and learned throughout a lifetime that brings a greater value and purpose to one’s existence.
During the pandemic, Dunion and a good friend, Ray Capua, an artist and professor of art at UConn, were both diagnosed with life-altering diseases. The author contracted Menier’s disease, causing vertigo, the sensation of spinning, loss of balance, vomiting and hearing loss.
The author and his friend often met on Dunion’s deck for coffee during the pandemic and discussed their fates as elders, searching for any positive aspects to growing older. They both agreed that today’s culture offered no help. To them it seemed that playing golf and drinking martinis was what today’s culture expected them to be doing. In other words, get out of the way.
But when relating his thoughts with the remarkable psycho-therapist Emma that he met through a colleague, Dunion’s understanding of growing old changed. He saw it as not a time of loss but a time to share what you’ve learned throughout your life.
This was reinforced by the works of Michael J. Meade, a renowned scholar and leader of the men’s movement in the 1980s. He helped Dunion understand that getting older is an initiation to another episode in one’s life that contains values that are cloaked with wisdom and need to be shared.
Dunion considers Emma a mentor for her expertise. She’s older than Dunion, in good health, still works and still supports him. Her grace defines how elders are more comfortable with themselves, and how they in turn serve society by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with younger generations.
Dunion hopes the book will relate to his contemporaries that getting older does not make you a liability. Instead, it’s a respected period in one’s life that is highly beneficial.
The author, now in his mid-70s, has proven his worth as an elder. He’s fought hard with Meinere’s disease and appears to be victorious; for most of the day he is now without symptoms. He still has a sizable work schedule, but no longer practices psychotherapy.
He does consulting work with European executives, coaching and training them virtually through Mobius, a software company headquartered in Boston.
While his work today is mainly with European executives, Mobius is beginning to take American clients as well. In March, he headed to Munich, Germany, to facilitate a consultant team, then plans another trip in April to Geneva, Switzerland, and again in August to counsel executive business partners.
Dunion has no plans of ever retiring. He goes to the gym six days a week and rides a bicycle to stay in shape.
Dunion hopes his new book will act as a stepping stone for elders to recognize that their later years should not be centered on what they have lost. Instead, they should be inspired to share with society what they have learned and experienced.
Not just to demonstrate their worth. But to achieve self appreciation and love in their later years.
Steven Birt lives in Mystic.