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Jane Pauley
Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life
Simon & Schuster
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-1-476-73376-0
Publication Date: 01-07-2014
254 Pages; $26.00

Date Reviewed: 02-02-2014
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2014

Index:  Non-Fiction

By an accident of birth, I'm between the big dividing lines of generation. But I'm far enough along to be square in the sights of Jane Pauley's 'Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life,' which is to say I long ago finished my first career and I'm still on the hunt for a viable second.

Pauley's book is a step aside from what you might expect. She weaves in her own post-career experiences with those of the people she's interviewed for her segment on Today. She teaches by story, not sermon, embracing mutually exclusive notions. What works for one person might not work for another. 'Your Life Calling' does not offer all of the answers; but it does offer examples of answers that worked.

Pauley's book is anything but simple, though it's quite easy to read. She starts out with the story of Meg, a woman stricken with cancer, who recovers and then asks the pertinent question; "What am I going to do for the next 40 years?" Pauley is part of all that question implies, and she follows up with a variety of answers, including her own.

As 'Your Life Calling' unfolds, readers will find a mixture of Pauley's colorful life, played lightly, and mixed with the stories she's found for her TV series. The prose trends to the reportorial, and she's clearly influenced by the styles required for TV. She works fast, and cuts time to suit the story and the point. Readers will be surprised by both her interest in and perspective on the future. In one segment, she offers visionary prose as she imagines how she might live some years down the road. Her grounded, low-key style keeps it all together.

While there are elements of the self-help genre to be found here, Pauley steers away from advice and towards example. Her subjects are varied and many of them are not wildly successful either before or after their post-work decisions. The paths taken contradict one another in terms of strategy. The book as a whole is positive and forward-thinking, but never starry-eyed. Pauley employs a series of aphorisms well, playing them like choruses in a Springsteen ballad.

As a reader, I'm in precisely the same pickle as many of Pauley's subjects in this book. One career is behind me and the second cannot be said to be going well; but it can also be said to be going very well. Still, Safeway is not accepting author interview CDs in lieu of cash. For me, 'Your Life Calling' offered some interesting thoughts, a variety of approaches to my own dilemmas, and a believable positive vibe.

We're entering a sort of economic singularity. My parents both spent their "middle age" ensconced in one job that paid out with retirement bits on top of Social Security. That's inconceivable to me, but I'm at present not seeing any real alternatives either. Readers may want to look to a podcast consisting of the sound of me pushing shopping carts across the lot in the local Costco. 'Your Life Calling' maps out a variety of responses to the disappearance of "The American Dream," and offers some viable flashlights to shine in the darkness ahead.

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