So it took me a little while to get there, but I did and it was marvelously satisfying. I do feel as if I had an extra life. And it was my third one. The first was a month at Berkeley when I was 29, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study fiction. The second, three months in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi when I was 42, was when I did my research for my novel Sister India.
I'm now a permanent fan of the idea of fitting in extra lives: abridged immersions in other places, cultures, or jobs. Experiences so different from the usual, and so concentrated and intense, that they truly feel like a different life.
I mean to keep a running list of tips and thoughts and experiments here on the subject. Starting now.
Bonus Life Tip #One: Try out a bonus life with a different career. There are companies that offer the opportunity. Example: Vocation Vacations. Here's a chance to try out (very briefly) the experience of being, say, a chocolatier, a music producer, a horse trainer, a wedding planner, a bed and breakfast owner. This is one way to go get a tiny extra life in a different career.