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I am a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and I finally got ahold of her newish book “The Signature of All Things.” It is beautifully written and the story is both surprising and engaging. As I near the book’s end, the main character’s life research as well her personal experiences weave together completely in a lucid and conclusive way. In parallel, while I was reading, I was tying her words to descriptions of what I’ve been pondering in life. Alma’s revelations sparked my own and I had to stop and take notes on everything my mind was spilling forth.

“But those who survived the world shaped it – even as the world, simultaneously, shaped them.”

A friend of mine recently experienced the scariest of wake up calls. A “you should have died, but didn’t” wake up call. There is nothing to sharpen your senses, like the sudden appreciation for life itself. Suddenly your whole world comes into sharp focus as you examine each part for value and meaning. It is almost impossible to have a major life event happen to you without reevaluating your life.

As Alma says “The greater the crisis, the swifter the evolution.”

We fear change, risk, and uncertainty, but what if we acknowledge that the struggle is the catalyst for change? It’s a real challenge to change when we’re “comfortable.” Struggle or crisis is the fire that burns away the chaff, clearing ground for new growth. Struggle or pain gives us two choices; live with it, miserably, or change. Struggle brings out our personal survival resources.

  • Inventiveness
  • Perseverance
  • Problem Solving
  • Creativity
  • Connections
  • Clarity
  • Clearing
  • Action

“All transformation appears to be motivated by desperation.”

When the pain of not changing becomes too great, the fear of change is easier to overcome.

Lately, I have been struggling with my own pain. Physical pain. I am overdue for a knee replacement. Yes, I have tried everything; diet, supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, heat, ice, rest, advil. When something shifted in my knee recently, and my accommodations just weren’t enough anymore, I finally became motivated to take action and make a plan. I realized I am not ready to give up on an active life, and it took that extra pain to prompt me into action. Now, while I’m at it, I’m going through my checklist of body parts and checkups and just taking care of business. I am motivated to feel good again and guard my health. That old list of complaints is getting tackled. I am going through my own fire to get to the other side of healing and freedom.

I once heard Wayne Dyer speak and he said he actually welcomes life’s challenges, because of their catalyst for growth. I’m not sure I’m that evolved yet, but at least getting some perspective and realizing it’s part of the path you are on is consoling.

I thank Elizabeth Gilbert, not only for her courage and perseverance in writing her latest novel, but I thank her for Alma and her thoughtful revelations. Through the safe distance of the reader, I can learn from the character’s fictional pain without getting too close to the fire. 😉

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Mary Beth Myers - July 25, 2014 - 4:55 pm

Fantastic perspective Laura, I too am facing some big challenges of late, and it is growth time. Like it or not, keep swimming and watch out for the rocks :)

Dorothy Druley - July 25, 2014 - 5:43 pm

I read this book when it frets was published and found it to be very thought provoking.