Life Affirming Words


“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?

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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I JUST downloaded this last night and am about to start it – great minds LouAnn, I swear..

    • that is amazing–we are so on the same page–every once in a while it gets slow but it is worth it to get past that

    • I think you’ll love it, Mimi! I just finished reading it a couple of weeks ago! Enjoy!

  2. Funny you should write about this….from time to time I sometimes feel like life is happening to me rather than making life happen for me. Yesterday I came upon an interesting article by Bradley Whitfield, and it inspired me, he said, ” Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen, make your own future, make your own hope, make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen, right now, right down here on earth.”. Simple but wise.

    • I agree with you–that is a very inspiring quote and one we should heed–we forget sometimes that we have the power to make things the way we want them

  3. Those are words to live by.

  4. “The Signature of all Things” is my book group’s read for February. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. Have you watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s TedTalks? I have watched it half a dozen time. So inspiring. It even makes me cry a little.

    • I am going to tune in–hope you enjoy the book–I really did

      • Her talk is well worth the 20 minute investment.

      • I will find it– I take your recommendations seriously even though you dance on tables (I used to)

  5. I always have a book on the go, and when I need a pick me up, there is usually a situation or two in the book I am reading at the time that makes me realize how much worse it could be. So, in other words, I just try to remind myself of how lucky I am.

  6. Yes!

  7. I just finished “The Signature of All Things” a couple of weeks ago, and like you, I was inspired by this particular passage, LouAnn. Absolutely loved this book! Thanks for the reminder and for the affirmation of my own impressions!

    • nice to know that you found the same inspiration I did–I really enjoyed the book!

  8. I have wondered about treading this book, LouAnn, and your words seem to indicate it should happen. This is the second time in the last couple of weeks that the word “curiosity” has come forth as an attribute which might be cultivated. Thank you.

  9. What a terrific passage! I’ve had this book on my shelf for a couple of months now. Thank you for sharing because it makes me want to read it even more.
    I was lucky enough to see Liz Gilbert at a reading in Manhattan – bought the book at the reading. She is as effervescent and funny and charming as you might imagine!

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