- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 022643995X
- ISBN-13: 978-0226439952
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #502,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Fragile Life: Accepting Our Vulnerability 1st Edition
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It is perhaps our noblest cause and certainly one of our oldest to end suffering Think of the Buddha Chuang Tzu or Marcus Aurelius stoically composed figures impervious to the torments of the wider world living their lives in complete serenity and teaching us how to do the same After all isn t a life free from suffering the ideal Isn t it what so many of us seek Absolutely not argues Todd May in this provocative but compassionate book In a moving examination of life and the trials that beset it he shows that our fragility our ability to suffer is actually one of the most important aspects of our humanity May starts with a simple but hard truth suffering is inevitable At the most basic level we suffer physically a sprained ankle or a bad back But we also suffer insults and indifference We suffer from overburdened schedules and unforeseen circumstances from moral dilemmas and emotional heartaches Even just thinking about our own mortality the fact that we only live one life can lead us to tremendous suffering No wonder philosophies such as Buddhism Taosim Stoicism and even Epicureanism all of which counsel us to rise above these plights have had appeal over the centuries May highlights the tremendous value of these philosophies and the ways they can guide us toward better lives but he also exposes a major drawback to their tenets such invulnerability is too emotionally disengaged from the world leading us to place too great a distance between ourselves and our experience Rather than seeking absolute immunity he argues most of us just want to hurt less and learn how to embrace and accept what suffering we do endure in a meaningful way Offering a guide on how to positively engage suffering May ultimately lays out a new way of thinking about how we exist in the world one that reassures us that our suffering rather than a failure of physical or psychological resilience is a powerful and essential part of life itself
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The practical wisdom of this book can be fairly summarized as "Don't sweat the small stuff, but some stuff is big and it is okay to sweat that."
In my opinion, readers who can do without philosophical details would be better advised to read the author's A SIGNIFICANT LIFE.