When You're Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living

When You're Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living

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by Mark Matousek

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"A guide to keeping the psyche intact when you're being spun on life's roulette wheel."—O

Is there an art to survival? Seeking answers to this intriguing question from a pantheon of master survivors, noted thinkers, and spiritual teachers, acclaimed memoirist Mark Matousek combines decades of personal

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"A guide to keeping the psyche intact when you're being spun on life's roulette wheel."—O

Is there an art to survival? Seeking answers to this intriguing question from a pantheon of master survivors, noted thinkers, and spiritual teachers, acclaimed memoirist Mark Matousek combines decades of personal experience with recent scientific breakthroughs—and heroic testimonies— to create a guidebook for navigating life's tricky terrain. How do we live with uncertainty—blossom through adversity while others fall apart, prevail in times of change and challenge? "Transformation is in our wiring," the author concludes by the end of this deeply personal quest.

Editorial Reviews

O Magazine
After receiving a diagnosis of HIV and, several years later, the equally upending news that after all, he would probably not die of it, Mark Matousek discovered something about riding a spiritual crisis. In this new guidebook to keeping the psyche intact while being spun on life's roulette wheel, he talks to survivors…as well as experts in brain neuroplasticity and psychological resilience. Through their stories, strategies emerge about how to not only regain equilibrium after a serious hardship but also manage the free floating 'intuition of hidden yet imminent danger' that afflicts many of us even in the absence of major trauma.
author of The Vagina Monologues and Insecure at La Eve Ensler
Filled with remarkable stories, illuminating insights and enduring lessons this gorgeously written book makes the impossible, transformational. Matousek has found a way to live by listening, by going to the darkest and most beautiful places, and gratefully he takes us with him.
Mark Epstein
Reading Mark Matousek's When You're Falling, Dive is like discovering a great artist's lost sketchbook. It is full of little wonders that change the way you see things. Bringing his journalist's eye to some of today's most provocative thinkers, Matousek takes us inside their minds, offering fresh counsel for perennial, but newly urgent, questions.
author of Hannah's Gift and Unraveled Maria Housden
When You're Falling, Dive reveals a secret known only to the few who have pushed through greatest adversity to find life's light on the other side. Matousek makes this wisdom available to us all. This will be his defining work both as a man and as a writer. A masterpiece…
Sena Jeter Naslund
Like Dante's Inferno, Matousek's book shows us the tortures of hell—physical, psychological, political—and a host of real people who have inhabited that fiery pit and risen triumphantly from it. Matousek is a trustworthy guide, one who himself has struggled with angel-demons, one who offers a life-affirming gift to his readers. Voices and visions flutter from these pages to become part of the air we breathe, and part of us.
author of Babylove Rebecca Walker
Beautiful and true.
author of The First Man-Made Man and Black Livings Pagan Kennedy
Thank god (Jesus? Krisna? the Oversoul?) that someone has finally written a spiritual book with an edge. In this boisterous collection of true stories, Mark Matousek takes us from Himalayan peaks to a sit-down with Andy Warhol, from a homeless shelter to Joan Didion's Upper East Side apartment. Matousek knows everyone, tells all, and writes sentences that reverb like zen koans. This book is a blessed departure from other 'survivor memoirs.' Matousek comes off as the most fascinating—and wise—cocktail-party raconteur you've ever met.
author of Returning Dan Wakefield
Mark Matousek is an excellent guide to the wisdom we seek in times of crisis.
Rocky Mountain News
A valuable guide for those who are looking to deal with traumatic and life-changing events.
Publishers Weekly

Memoirist and editor Matousek (Sex Death Enlightenment) attempts to dissect the relationship between life's harshest tests and the gift of self-discovery and survival in this absorbing compendium of anecdotes. The author, who has AIDS, interviews many survivors of trauma and loss, including writer Joan Didion, mystic Andrew Harvey, poet Stanley Kunitz and Tibetan nun Nawang Sangdrol, among others, to inquire how deepest crisis forces us to re-examine our lives and move forward. After stating that "Transformation is in our wiring," Matousek concludes that the key to our survival is not cheating death but living as passionately, creatively and courageously as possible. Using scientific data, psychological research and his own life experiences, he uncovers the essentials of enduring against all odds while answering his chief question: "What force flips a falling person back on his feet, reconstitutes him after disaster, helps him prevail in the face of great challenges?" Matousek shows an uncanny skill for merging spirituality, science and common sense into practical answers for surviving our own lives. (July)

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Library Journal

Journalist and memoirist Matousek follows his 1996 memoir, Sex Death Enlightenment, with an exploration of viriditas, the phenomenon of drawing passion, beauty, and wisdom from unlikely sources. AIDS sets the stage for the author's inquiry into the resiliency some people display when faced with tragedy and trauma. Each chapter is an anecdote, or parable, about a person's survivoring (most of those interviewed are well known, e.g., Joan Didion, Ram Dass, and Stanley Kunitz). The attempt to thread the stories into a cohesive narrative rope is hampered by their sheer emotion, creating an odd offering that may not comfort. The subjects inspire and may teach by example, but there are no easy answers or self-help style checklists here. Matousek's elevated vocabulary and intrusive voice and persona jar. Consider where similar titles are in demand, e.g., Betty Rollin's cancer survivor-themed Here's the Bright Side, Jeanne Elizabeth Sexson's woman-focused Down but Not Out, or David Wolpe's uplifting Making Loss Matter. This title may be useful in an academic setting supporting post-traumatic and grief coursework and would make a good book-discussion selection. An optional purchase for public and academic libraries.
—Shawna Thorup

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Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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When You're Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Hold-Me-Back More than 1 year ago
When You're Falling, Dive offers a truly inspirational repast for tired hearts. Within the first 2 pages, I found myself immersed in "Aha!" moments. I felt nurtured; completed. I'm happy this book's in my library. I'll come back to it many times in my lifetime. This author is genuine; his work, gifted.
CarolJWright More than 1 year ago
How do people do it? Survive sickness, accident, trauma, torture...yet come out stronger for it. That's for THEM, right? Few of us think it will happen to us, and surely the people who come out stronger are inspired to begin with. Not always the case. Matousek, who had his own bout with death with the death of his partner and the diagnosis of AIDS, brings out his "Interview" magazine talents to query dozens of people who have gone through the ringer and survived. Some you'll recognize (Ram Dass, Joan Didion), others you will not. Some of the stories are hard to take...how could they survive to tell the tale, but Matousek finds the essence of what it took them to not only survive, but to be transformed. If you are going through a hard time, pick up this book. It is a thrill to read, and you'll surely find someone to relate to. I lost my first copy and bought it all over again, I was that impressed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is really difficult to write a review for this book, simply because it is so delicately written, as if the author chose the most beautiful words and uplifting stories - just for you. I strongly recommend this book to everyone, but especially to seekers, passionate readers, and aficionados of outstanding prose. Vanja
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read full of inspiring stories of how people overcame horrible obsticals and remained true to themselves.
Ladyreader15 More than 1 year ago
Mark Matousek's book, "When You're Falling, Dive" is a valuable read, not only for those who have gone through some sort of catastrophic experience in their lives, but for those grappling with everyday questions. He speaks with a wide variety of people, many of whom have experienced great tragedy and spiritual teachers who council and comfort them. It is beautifully written and has a powerful spiritual message. I love to recommend this book to the people in my life so that they can be touched and comforted as well.