Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday night Reads: "Exuberance The Passion for Life" and "The Forgiveness Handbook"

Exuberance: The PASSION for LIFE by Kay Redfield Jamison

This eloquent, fascinating book held my interest for 308 pages as I learnt about men and woman of genius, both with and without mental health difficulties. From Teddy Roosevelt who was a dynamo seldom seen in the political sphere to James Watson, the brilliant scientist who was behind the double helix, to a Vermont native who was fascinated with the study of snowflakes and spent a life time cataloguing them named Snowflake Bentley, men of action and passion are catalogued along with women who made a mark on the arts, science, emancipitation, and philosophy. Both Toad from Wind in the Willows and my favourite politician Winston Churchill are discussed with equal insight.

Most fascinating to me were the links between genius and mental illness. Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Virginia Wolfe, many influential scientists of the last millenium and present one, and Robert Louis Stevenson all suffered from one form or another of mental illness and/or drug or alcohol addiction or childhood privations, abuse, or neglect. Jamison makes a case for the point that exuberance can stir the deeper fibres of our nature and inspire us to previously unknown heights of culture and science, but it also can be highly dangerous and volatile. The world without exuberance would be a much lessened one, but being around these men or women of genuis can get dicey.

I have ordered Jamison's best-selling memoir "An Unquiet Mind" for my birthday present from Amazon. Jamison is an author of unusual power and insight. I am sure I will not be disappointed!

The Forgiveness Handbook: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for the Journey to Freedom, Healing, and Peace Created by the Editors at Skylight Paths Introduction by the Rev. Canon Marianne Wells Borg

I chanced upon this book one day at the library and it literally changed me from a very angry, frustrated person to one who could accept the interruption mental illness had once again made in my life with a degree of acceptance and grace. The contributors are too many to name, but most of them are Reverends, or chaplains, or Doctors of Philosphy or Religion. All of them are in ministry of some kind to help people heal from hurts of the past or abuse. There are even some rabbis and imans who share an interfaith perspective on forgiveness. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There are mindfulness and visualization exercises, creative projects, and one ancient Jewish prayer which you can say every night for as long as you have to. After this tumultuous summer, I have to forgive many people who hurt me unintentionally or through busyness and/or self absorbtion. I have learned that hurt people hurt people and it is often someone's old wounds that cause them to wound you. Some people are unaware of their own wounds and their true identity as a child of God. God longs to embrace and comfort them, but they must come to him first for their healing.

I am giving a digital copy of this book to one of my best friends, who has a lot of people to forgive and is going through a healing journey of her own. I am also ordering my own copy, as the one I have has to be returned to the library next week.

A big thank you to my lovely sister Linda and her fiancee Mike who are getting me three books, an Unquiet Mind, The Forgiveness Handbook, and a new adult colouring book all from Amazon.

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