Bolton Anthony

For a decade now Itineraries has been a “regular” publication — an increasingly hefty digital tome which appeared quarterly with a measure of predictability and which over the years has featured articles by over 150 contributors.

In recent years many talented, generous colleagues stepped forward to serve as guest editor for an issue with a particular thematic focus. Writer, weaver, sculptor, and teacher Penelope Bourk, who edited the 2013 issue on TRAVEL AND TRANSFORMATION, is the most recent example.

Sometimes a “theme” held our attention for an entire year. In 2011, with help from four guest editors, we focused on THE SPIRITUALITY OF LATER LIFE. We first explored AGING IN COMMUNITY in 2010 with Gaya Erlandson editing all four issues, then revisited the topic in 2012 with an issue edited by Janice Blanchard.

Click on the images to open the issues

Readers of Itineraries have also enjoyed the many book reviews which Barbara Kammerlohr contributed over the years and the regular contributions of Second Journey’s “philosopher-in-residence,” John Sullivan, whose thoughtful essays have accumulated in John'sCorner and spawn children of their own.

This current issue — the lastregular” issue — revisits the theme of spirituality, focusing on PRACTICES FOR WAKEFULNESS; it includes essays by two new contributors and by three of the four 2011 guest editors.

Itineraries now becomes an “irregular” publication — or in library parlance, an occasional publication — dependent for its continued appearance on the initiative of colleagues and the “gathering to a greatness” of unsolicited essays.

Why? Three reasons.

First, I will be 70 on Valentine’s Day. I have steadfastly tended Second Journey for 14 years — one-fifth of my life and twice as long as I have ever done any one thing. The academic world has something called “phased retirement.” I need to devise an equivalent to that. More importantly, I need to be about what Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi calls “winter work.” (If you don’t know what that phrase means, perhaps some colleague will demystify it in some future, unsolicited essay!)

Secondly, the online quarterly has “spawned children” of the print variety. Three books — 200–300 pages each — during 2013 alone, with a fourth due out in February. It seems overnight we have become a publishing house. But a publishing house WITHOUT A BUSINESS PLAN. A bit like discovering you are pregnant in the eighth month. Click on the image to the right to see what I mean. The books are all beautifully designed; the writers who contributed the excellent essays that fill them deserve a wide audience. We need to stop producing new books and figure out how to market those we have.

Finally, my own interests have in the past couple of years become increasingly local. Though Second Journey has made its home in Chapel Hill since the winter solstice of 1999, we have done so almost as if we were in a witness protection program, daring only rarely to conduct programs in our own backyard. That began to change when we partnered locally with the Seymour Center on THE HEART’S DESIRE, a series of “films for later life”; now in its third season, that series continues in the spring. Then came last fall’s citywide series of public forums on Aging in Community — again with local partners; that series also continues in the spring. Finally, I realized it was in my own self-interest to walk my talk: if Lisa and I wished ourselves to “age in community,” it behooved us to give some energy to making our own neighborhood “aging friendly.” So we have both become involved in this effort; and, depending on your interest, you may read occasional dispatches from the field in The Heronbridge Chronicles: Imagining What Might Be.

So, the long and the short of it is, even letting go of Itineraries, my plate remains quite full. I may not yet have gotten the hang of this phrased retirement thing!

This has been a lot of information (more than you are ever likely to read, Lisa warns me), but — so far — no ASK, as fundraisers would say. Well, there isn’t going to be one. I’ve come to believe that systems are self-organizing; and if Itineraries is meant to continue in one form or another, that will happen.

I had a conversation 10 years ago with Reb Zalman. I had just turned 60; he was approaching 80 and intending to “retire.” I knew he had begun his work with “Sage-ing” when he was 60, and I expressed the hope that I also would have 20 years to complete my work. He told me, “I will give you a blessing — a blessing which carries all the good will of all the ancestors who have made me who I am. May you complete your work in 10 years and have 10 years to enjoy it!

About that same time, I had written about my work with Second Journey:

A number of people have thanked me for “holding the space.” It’s as if I’d arrived early for the picnic, staked out a lush spot by the river and put dibs on the place by scattering blankets and chairs all about. I do not have THE VISION; no one person does. It is scattered in pieces among us, and we will find our way into the future only by coming together in community and delighting in the different treats we each bring to the celebration.

So it is for you I have been holding this place. What would you like to bring to our potluck? What are your thoughts about where Second Journey should go, and what role do you wish to play, what contribution do you wish to make? What kind of organization or container do we need to create TOGETHER, to hold and direct this energy?

Yes, I have been holding this wonderful space beside the river for YOU! It’s now time for you to take your place there, time for Lisa and me to welcome greater spaciousness into our lives, and time for all of us to enjoy the feast of life.

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Bolton Anthony, who founded Second Journey in 1999, has worked as a teacher of English and creative writing to undergraduates, a public librarian, a university administrator, and a social change activist. In 1998, he was privileged to lead a year-long community effort to solemnly commemorate the Wilmington (NC) coup and racial violence of 1898. He is the editor of Second Journeys: The Dance of Spirit in Later Life and the host of THE HEART'S DESIRE, a local film series now in its third season. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, Lisa.