For the ninth week of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read Exuberance - The Passion for Life by Kay Redfield Jamison.
I was excited to read this book and had rather high expectations for it. However, as chapter after chapter passed, it became clear that what I thought this book would be and what it actually is are two completely different things. So, by the middle of the book I was skimming the chapters. Before long, I simply closed the book and felt like I had read enough of it. This book, unfortunately, was not the best use of my time.
That being said, there were some things I found interesting and wanted to remember:
- It is the infectious energies of exuberance that proclaim and disperse much of what is marvelous in life. Exuberance carries us places we would not otherwise go - across the savannah, to the moon, into the imagination - and if we ourselves are not so exuberant we will, caught up in the contagious joy of those who are, be included collectively to go yonder.
- By its pleasures, exuberance lures us from our common places and quieter moods.
- Joy widens one's view of the world and expands imaginative thought. It makes both physical and intellectual exploration more likely, and it provides reward for problems solved or risks taken.
- One joy, the Chinese believer, scatters a hundred griefs, and certainly it can be an antidote to fatigue and discouragement. Into those set back by failure, joy transfuses hope.
- Theodore Roosevelt seems to have burst into the world a full-throated exuberant.
- Roosevelt's vivacity receded when his father died....It was a devastating loss. For the rest of his life he would miss, though himself incorporate, his father's rare mixture of infectious joy and keen sense of public duty."
- John Muir: "He understood nature, felt nature, and then illuminated her to those who did not. The slaying of the wilderness was to him personal and intolerable."
- John Muir spoke of a more inward journey: "I only went out for a walk," he wrote, "and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
- Nature is self-evidently exuberant. One pair of poppies, given seven years and the right conditions, will produce 820 thousand million million million descendants.
- Lichens, among nature's oldest and slowest of living things, grow nearly everywhere...and an individual community of lichen may survive longer than most human civilizations.
- Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley...was incapable of indifference to the world around him. When there was a winter storm and snow was flying, he was in the fields or hills; he could not stay indoors. His delight in snow made him an astute observer of it; it then made him an infectiously enthusiastic guide. Exuberance gave him passion, stamina, and a lasting voice to speak out for small beauties.
- Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. He was as stricken by their impermanence as struck by their beauty: "When a snowflake melted," he lamented, "that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."
- African elephants: expressions of joy are frequent in elephant families...especially when they greet one another after having been apart. The "greeting ceremony" may involve as many as fifty elephants and occurs after elephants have been separated for as short a period as a few hours or as long a time as several weeks.