We are ancient animals entering the Anthropocene era. How can the lessons of our past help us find health and meaning in our future?
Frank Forencich, the author of “New Old Way: Ancestral Health and Sapience for the Modern World,” describes the book as a "fresh look at human health in context, with an emphasis on activism and wisdom." If you are one of the many modern humans fighting stress, obesity, or just trying to find the meaning in life, this book might be for you.
We stand at a unique juncture in the evolution of man. Our technology has brought us to the point where we are losing our sense of community, no longer need to rely on our bodies and senses for survival, and have lost sight of our relationship with the environment that supports us. Frank Forencich puts this situation into the perspective of two major historical trends:
- the millions of years of evolution which honed the animals we are today, and
- the eyeblink of time in which we have learned to live as demanded by our technological revolution.
His advice is practical because he accepts the obvious: "Even going back to an agrarian, Amish-style life seems impossible...most of us have no idea how to farm, manage animals, do carpentry, or carry out any of the thousands of other tasks of rural self-sufficiency that would be required." Even those trapped in a cubicle or locked into an inner-city jungle can benefit from the simple steps Frank recommends.
He throws out the failed self-help prescriptions. Instead of wellness, Frank extols wildness. He investigates the value of tribalism, and explains the biology behind why the love hormone oxytocin brings out our worst "us versus them" instincts on the way to explaining how we can become activists without being antagonists.
Anyone not already deeply involved in the topic of ancestral sapience will surely leave the book with an altered understanding of the challenges of simplicity instead of stuff, of the power of the paleo mind over stress, and the importance of caring for the person and not just the body in modern medicine. Frank Forencich will help people take back control of their own stories and turn that narrative into "sapience," a wisdom that remains in touch with our nature as homo sapiens.
In the end, Frank leaves the reader with a message of hope that their individual efforts create a contagion of meaning and engagement that will help humankind to find its way through our current paradigm into a new world in which technology serves us and we preserve our planet.
The author refers to himself as "mismatched" and "confused" but in fact he seems to be a modern renaissance man bursting out of the boxes defined by job titles or the usual life paths. Frank Forencich got a degree in human biology at Stanford, holds a black belt in both Karate and Aikido, and has studied human origins and our "ancestral environment" during several trips to Africa. With New Old Way and Exuberant Animal, Frank seeks to educate and engage people on how to get the most out of being human.