If You’re Not Dead Great Read
If you are searching for a last-minute Christmas gift, I recommend Jim Watkins’s amusing book, If You’re Not Dead, You’re Not Done: Live with Purpose at Any Age.
One thing I have learned about passing traditional retirement age and still working is that life’s challenges continue. Whoever thinks that things get easier as the miles add up must have never paid repair bills for a geezer of a car.
I have also discovered that the passing years go easier when accompanied by some good laughs.
I had planned to order a copy of If You’re Not Dead, You’re Not Done, a year ago after its release. Thanks to my wife jumping on Amazon recently, it now resides on our book shelf.
Struggles with Depression
In the interest of full disclosure, I have twice shared the podium with Jim. The first time was nearly 20 years ago at a Christian writers conference in Louisville. More recently, in 2019 we were faculty members at the Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network’s annual meeting in Nashville.
That said, we’re not close friends. That’s why I was a bit surprised to learn the depth of Jim’s struggles with depression, which he reveals about three-fourths of the way into the book.
The chapter title is the same as the August 2022 devotional he coauthored with his daughter, Faith, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Prozac.”
With a title like that, one would have expected I already recognized his battle. But given his sense of humor—which included skydiving from an airplane for the launch of If You’re Not Dead, You’re Not Done—I thought it might have been in jest.
Just as surprising was the disclosure that, despite working as a youth pastor, frequent conference speaker, editor at a Christian publishing house, and university writing instructor, he’s an introvert.
Wow, I know the feeling. For years I thought I was an extrovert. Then I looked over my spouse’s Briggs-Myers Type Indicator when she started seminary. I realized I fit the parameters for the quiet profile, not the outgoing personality.
Sense of Humor
One reason I like Jim’s 2021 book so much is his ability to laugh at himself. It reveals one reason he is still going during the Social Security years: he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
He also knows how to praise God for life’s blessings instead of grumbling about the inevitable losses and setbacks seniors face.
Take the chapter, “Fifty Reasons to Give Thanks.” That’s it: just a long list. Things like “God’s protection and providence,” “His love and grace,” and “Sleeping straight through the night” (younger folks won’t realize how incredible that last one is until they get a bit older).
I chuckled when I read ones like “Not waking up in North Korea,” “Not waking up in a war-torn country” or “Not waking up in a hospital.” I still remember the five days I spent in the hospital after double bypass surgery in 2008. Home never looked so good!
Then there were some one- or two-word reasons: clean air, cardinals singing, or electricity.
I read this chapter a few days before seeing the news about Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv possibly going without electricity, heat or water this winter because of Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure. Makes power look pretty good.
One final plug. If the person you’re buying this gift for likes short chapters, this title is full of them. About three pages each, the kind that can be digested in a few minutes daily. All while repeating the title: “If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”