“The Signature of all Things” is Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough—but there is a passage on page 447 that particularly spoke to me. The main character, Alma, wrote this in one of her research papers:
“Those who are ill-prepared to endure the battle for survival should perhaps never have attempted living in the first place. The only unforgivable crime is to cut short the experiment of one’s own life before its natural end. To do so is a weakness and a pity—for the experiment of life will cut itself off soon enough, in all our cases, and one may just as well have the courage and curiosity to stay in the battle until one’s eventual demise. Anything less than a fight for endurance is a refusal of the great covenant of life.”
These words may sound a little too “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” but I do think she has chosen the right combination of words to get us through almost anything: courage and curiosity. Speaking for myself, curiosity is the thing that gets me through, around, beyond, and past life’s hardships. My curiosity feeds the courage I need to endure the not so good stuff—so I can enjoy the moments of joy, of which, if a tally were taken, there are many.
Alma’s life is not an easy one, but it is interesting, adventurous, intelligent, and worth reading about. I found the book opened up whole new territories for me—from the scientific to the workings of the mind.
When my bootstraps get a bit worn, I read these words, and they help me (metaphorically) get back up on the horse.
Do you have any words or passages that help you out when the joy of life seems to have taken a vacation without you?