As my 76th birthday inches closer (do you hear the trombones?) I want to acknowledge how grateful I am to be alive, surrounded by books! Yesterday I pulled this book off my shelf: A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living.

Since I’ve never been a big fan of the word fragile (reminds me of my unfortunate osteoporosis diagnosis) I was curious how the author, Mari Ruti, would connect the idea of fragile with the art of living.

The first sentence of her introduction got my attention: “WE LIVE IN a world of fragile things: fragile selves, fragile psyches, fragile loves” (capitalization in original text).

Ruti writes that as humans we are acutely aware of life’s precariousness. I think this gives us a clue to the way she defines fragile. She continues: Despite the precarious nature of life, humans, strive to make the most of it.

Then she quotes Arthur Schopenhauer: “We insist on living our lives with great interest as long as possible, just as we blow out a soap-bubble as long and as large as possible, although with the perfect certainty that it will burst.”

Sitting back and savoring the image created in my mind by this perfect metaphor, I rest in knowing that by its nature, life is not only precarious but paradoxical.  Precarious because parts of us are fragile; paradoxical because as humans, we try so hard, knowing with certainty that someday we will face our own death.

Do you ever use the word fragile?

I’d love to know.

The image is a unique angle of viewing the tallest zinnia in the world!


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