“There’s a guy on stilts, in costume, at a theater talking about the process — the journey, really — of aging? Why?” Dr. Bill Thomas asks rhetorically, aware of how ridiculous the proposition must sound out of context.
Those who know Dr. Bill Thomas may not be surprised to hear he performs the Second Wind Tour on stilts, but it’s still something you have to see to fully understand. Yesterday the Jacksonville Business Journal stopped in to talk to Bill before his performance at the University of North Florida and he tried to explain what he’s up to:
“What I’m doing is telling a new story about aging,” said Thomas, 54. “So it’s fitting that I tell that new narrative in a different way.”
Acknowledging some in the health care industry view him as a “hippie,” the doctor looks the part. A kind of new-age guru or post-modern bohemian, Thomas goes barefoot most of the time, sports a full beard, wears yoga-type linen pants and tunic and pauses to choose his words as languidly as if he were sipping wine.
“I’m using theater — non-fiction theater — with music, film and costumes to communicate ideas that are harder to grasp than if I were to just stand up behind a podium and talk about them,” Thomas said.
Best known for his radical innovations in long term care, including The Eden Alternative global nonprofit and The Green House Project model of “homey, communal assisted living for elders”, Bill Thomas has adapted his latest non-fiction book “Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper and More Connected Life” into a national non-fiction theatrical 25-city roadshow.
The Tour features inspirational speakers such as Dr. Janet Taylor from AARP’s Life Reimagined, a documentary featurette on the power of music and memory called Alive Inside and a live musical performance by Musicians for World Harmony founder Samite.
“If we’re going to wait for the administration in suits to change the narrative [of aging],”Thomas told the Jacksonville Business Journal, “we’re going to wait a long time.”
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