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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

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Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life

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Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life Cover

ISBN13: 9780553381580
ISBN10: 055338158x
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Now I find myself in late August, with the nights cool and the crickets thick in the fields. Already the first blighted leaves glow scarlet on the red maples. Its a season of fullness and sweet longings made sweeter now by the fact that I cant be sure Ill see this time of the year again....

— from Learning to Fall

Philip Simmons was just thirty-five years old in 1993 when he learned that he had ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease, and was told he had less than five years to live. As a young husband and father, and at the start of a promising literary career, he suddenly had to learn the art of dying. Nine years later, he has succeeded, against the odds, in learning the art of living.

Now, in this surprisingly joyous and spirit-renewing book, he chronicles his search for peace and his deepening relationship with the mystery of everyday life.

Set amid the rugged New Hampshire mountains he once climbed, and filled with the bustle of family life against the quiet progression of illness, Learning to Fall illuminates the journey we all must take — “the work of learning to live richly in the face of loss.”

From our first faltering steps, Simmons says, we may fall into disappointment or grief, fall into or out of love, fall from youth or health. And though we have little choice as to the timing or means of our descent, we may, as he affirms, “fall with grace, to grace.”

With humor, hard-earned wisdom and a keen eye for lifes lessons — whether drawn from great poetry or visits to the town dump — Simmons shares his discovery that even at times of great sorrow we may find profound freedom. And by sharing the wonder of his daily life, he offers us the gift of connecting more deeply and joyously with our own.

From the Hardcover edition.

Synopsis:

Simmons was just 35 years old, a young husband and father, when he learned that he had ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and was told that he had five years to live. Taking his fatal illness not as an ending but as a beginning, he embarked on a remarkable, 10-year spiritual journey, whose fruits he shares in this book.

About the Author

Philip Simmons is associate professor of English at Lake Forest College in Illinois, where he taught literature and creative writing for nine years before being disabled. His literary scholarship has been published widely and his short fiction has appeared in Playboy, TriQuarterly, Ploughshares, and the Massachusetts Review, among other magazines. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Lennox, January 13, 2014 (view all comments by Lennox)
This book is nothing short of a treasure. The author, who was diagnosed at age 35 with Lou Gehrig’s disease and told he had five years to live (he died eight years later at age 43), wrote the 12 essays that comprise this book as a celebration of life in the face of death. It is not a set of self-help rules for overcoming tragedy or a series of moralistic lessons. Instead, it’s a distillation of the insights and observations of a professor of literature and creative writing, a scholar of the world’s various religions, and a longtime student of Eastern meditative thought and practices on how to live life to the fullest. Interspersed with ideas from Thomas Merton, Meister Eckhart, Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, and the Dalai Lama (among others), are discussions of issues raised by the Bible, George Orwell, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T.S Eliot, and Ralph Waldo Emerson (to name but a few). The author’s ability to distill wisdom from such eclectic sources is profound. His effortless ability to blend it with detailed observations of life in rural New Hampshire, the beauty of nature and its seasonal manifestations, and reflections on his own physical deterioration is spellbinding. That he can incorporate all this with a self-deprecating and wry yet generous sense of humor makes this book pure alchemy. It’s worth its weight in gold.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780553381580
Author:
Simmons, Philip
Publisher:
Bantam
Author:
SIMMONS, PHILIP
Location:
New York
Subject:
Religious
Subject:
Death, Grief, Bereavement
Subject:
Specific Groups - Special Needs
Subject:
Suffering
Subject:
College teachers
Subject:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Subject:
Spirituality - General
Subject:
Inspirational - General
Subject:
Spirituality
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
Biography-Religious
Edition Description:
Bantam trade paperback ed.
Series Volume:
107-696
Publication Date:
20030431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
8.28x5.56x.41 in. .32 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Religious
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Disability
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Biographies
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Grief
Religion » Western Religions » Inspirational

Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life New Trade Paper
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Product details 176 pages Bantam Books - English 9780553381580 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Simmons was just 35 years old, a young husband and father, when he learned that he had ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and was told that he had five years to live. Taking his fatal illness not as an ending but as a beginning, he embarked on a remarkable, 10-year spiritual journey, whose fruits he shares in this book.
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