Older Man/Younger Man - A Love Story
Author Joseph Dispenza’s candid memoir, "Older Man/Younger Man: A Love Story," invites the reader to witness first-hand the emotional and spiritual journey of his relationship with Dr. Mike Herbert, a man thirty years his junior.
Dispenza is a spiritual counselor who has written several books on the subject of personal growth and wellness. As a younger man, the author spent eight years in a monastery as a Catholic monk, an experience that helped shape and alter his perception of his place in the world for several decades thereafter. Together, he and Mike co-founded LifePath, a healing and retreat center, located in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
The author documents, in arguably extraneous detail, a timeline of events as he travels down a long and arduous road of self-discovery. His narrative flashes back and forth in time between April 2009, when he began to write this memoir from the confines of a Mexican monastery, and a decade ago, when he first becomes acquainted with Mike at a Vegas restaurant. The chapters are supplemented by inspirational essays written for Mike, influenced by the author’s memories and dreams, as well as historical and mythological imagery.
Aside from the routine challenges one would expect to arise within a relationship between two men born three decades apart, the couple is also weighed down, physically and emotionally, with health issues, including hepatitis, depression, seizures and a brush with prostate cancer. Furthermore, they uproot their lives to embark upon a naturopathic business venture in another country.
There’s no denying Joseph and Mike’s story is compelling. The author’s highly descriptive account contains both captivating and unwarranted developments--his vivid characterization of old Santa Fe could have doubled as a travel guide, but I didn’t need to be reminded of his prostate with what reads like a transcript of bathroom visits.
What’s perhaps most interesting, considering the book’s title, is the fact that their age difference is practically secondary to the story, which may have been the author’s intention, and rightly so. Granted, it is cause for a few bumps along the way, mostly within family or social situations, but never seen as an obstacle they can’t overcome.
I applaud the author for writing this honest, brave memoir. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of his writing style, which is almost epistolary, but those who welcome the invitation to share in a man’s retelling of his most intimate, private experiences will be especially pleased. At its core, it’s a wonderful love story.
"Older Man/Younger Man: A Love Story"
by Joseph Dispenza