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The Mystery of Everyday Life

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This remarkable book takes a fresh look at life as a process, not an end, encouraging readers to look for the meaning of life not in terms of achievement or others' opinions, but in the everyday joys of living. From the Preface ... It is easy to become attached to goals. Goals promise certainty, and the anxiety they induce only makes their achievement seem more meritorious. The trouble is that goals, even worthy ones, remove our sense of proportion and our sensitivity to what is happening around us. It sometimes takes a fall to bring us back into the present. 'Where have I been? What have I been doing all my life?' We awaken to the world as if for the first time. We have written this book out of an increasing sense of the importance of these moments. Once you recognise life as a gift rather than an achievement, you realise that 'meaning in life' is found only in the vitality of the social relations in which we participate.
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Table of Contents

Preface / About the authors / Acknowledgements Grace A Lively Conversation Being A Horse This Wonderful Life The Well of Creativity Nothing Embrace A Knock at the Door Falling For This the Line of My Shoulder was Made Paradise References


The Mystery of Everyday Life aims to celebrate the everyday. Or, I should say, to celebrate the mystery of the everyday in the everyday. Moreover, it does so in prose that is a pleasure to read. ... In appearance, tone and message what The Mystery of Everyday Life reads like is a little book of wisdom. Elegant in its simplicity, at its most appealing it is as charming as it is insightful, eg, in its use of Pooh Bear to talk about doing nothing. On occasion, it risks being cloying, yet I am quite pleased with many of the passages to do with children. Specific sections invite ridicule (as a farm boy, I squirm at some of what is said about riding and 'being a horse') yet others are nothing if not poignant (the decline and death of the father of one of the authors). ... There is no shortage of genuine pearls here. I would have a hard time, however, getting a reader determined to be swinish to admit it. Consider this: 'Although we often speak of parents bringing children into the world, we speak little of children giving birth to parents ... So this is why I'm alive, this is what life is about, this is what I was like, this is where that experience becomes useful'. (pp 80-81). Then again, there is this: 'rather than establishing a debt, gift-giving is its own reward; we're grateful to those who receive our loving gifts, for they have given us the chance to be generous' (p30). Need I say that, on occasion, this is the way it is ... Not a book for ethnographers then, but one for those oriented to existential and cosmological questions - those searching for an alternative way of talking about life as it is lived ... - Australian Journal of Anthropology, Vol 17/2, 2006 This thought-provoking and insightful little book takes a fresh look at life as a process rather than an end, and it encourages readers to look for the meaning of life in the everyday joys of living instead of in terms of achievement or others' opinions. The authors show readers that the riches of life, such as wonder, connection and joy, are right where they are and that sorrow, giving and responsibility are riches too. The book contains 11 chapters, each of which reinforces the idea that 'meaning of life' is found only in the vitality of the social relations in which we participate. - The Catholic Weekly, 8 June 2003

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