Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism

Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism


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Celebrate Life Just Because

In a world so often filled with distressing news and bewildering violence, being “human” often gets a bad rap. Rejoice in everyday reasons to smile, think positively, and enjoy the gift of life.

Take a walk on the bright side. In Glad To Be Human: Adventures in Optimism, award-winning writer Irene O’Garden reminds us of the radiance of human existence. From kitchens to gardens to busy city streets, all around, in your everyday life, you can find plenty of reasons to feel gratitude and hope, peace and joy.

It’s the little things. In this collection of essays, O’Garden explores a wide range of practical reasons to celebrate life—just look closely around you. In one essay, she describes the simple pleasure that comes from clearing clutter off a desk—in another, the thrill of visiting the Statue of Liberty. The book’s grand finale is the Pushcart Prize-winning essay, “Glad To Be Human.”

One simple message. Through contemplation, meditation and with literary style, Glad To Be Human invites readers to view life through a positive lens. From small, daily activities to journeys overseas, O’Garden has a knack for finding beauty and meaning in all life’s adventures—even in our deepest pain and suffering—helping all of us feel glad to be human.

If you enjoy Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Anne Lamott, or books like Risking the Rapids, The Book of Joy, The Book of Delights, and The Gratitude Diaries, you’ll love O’Garden’s Glad to Be Human.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781642502466
Publisher: Mango Media
Publication date: 05/19/2020
Pages: 236
Sales rank: 370,246
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Irene O’Garden has won—or been nominated for—prizes in nearly every writing category from stage to e-screen, hardcovers, children’s books, as well as literary magazines and anthologies. Her critically acclaimed play Women on Fire (Samuel French), starring Judith Ivey, played to sold-out houses at Off-Broadway’s Cherry Lane Theatre, and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award. O’Garden’s new memoir, Risking the Rapids: How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood was published by Mango Press in January 2019.

Kristine Carlson, New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned speaker, is passionate about spreading her message of waking up to life with joy and gratitude amidst the ups and downs of this earthly existence.

Kris’ life mission expands upon the phenomenal success of her late husband Dr. Richard Carlson’s work in the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series. She continues his legacy of peaceful and mindful living through her own bestselling books—Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms, An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love: The True Story of the Best Gift Ever, and Heartbroken-Open: A Memoir Through Loss to Self Discovery—as well as her well-known “What Now?” program and her upcoming Happiness Training Courses.

Over the past two decades, Kris and Richard have sold more than 25 million books. She has been featured on national radio and television broadcasts, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, The View, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Read an Excerpt

From Glad to Be Human

A Question of Gladness

Why is it even important to be glad to be human? We may be the only species that questions gladness.

If cells weren’t glad to be cells could they metabolize? Could they have the little cellular barn raisings that lead to the creation of petals or peanuts or pineal glands?

If atoms were ashamed of being atoms, could they even join atomic hands to make a cell for a while? They’d skip the dance and stay home. No whirling around tonight, honey. I’m just not up to making a cell. Why bother anyway? I’m not that great at doing it, and after all cells only die, so why even make one?

Humans cannot comprehend the larger body we compose, though we can feel its organs in a symphony orchestra, a sports team, a school, a hospital, a movie set. These larger selves need us to function just as we need the beings who compose our bodies. There is great joy when these larger bodies function well, because functioning well is the nature of Nature. Of course, any cell, plant or animal will tell you the purpose of life is not function, but joy.

This coursing sense of connected well-being, or gladness, is the default setting of each living creature and doubtless the inanimates as well. (If it’s all spinning particles, is anything really inanimate?) The holographic fractal beauty of physical reality is that gladness is important to each, and each is important to all.

I am personally glad to be safe and dry and educated and supplied and empowered and free of children, glad there are people glad to have children. Glad to choose, to help to nourish, to bless.

Glad to have coached a baby into this world, excruciating and exquisite. No sleep for twenty four hours, my sister twisting in the birthing bed, her husband and me squeezing her hand, feeding her ice, our very breaths as one till salty weepy laughter chokes out of us as the red hairy head appears.

Glad to be human for all the ages that surround me always, for the precious ability always to catch sight of a baby somewhere, a toddler and children, and the sweet pure unconsciousness of, even in anger, youth, staggering in its unknowing beauty. And the reposed beauty of lined faces, relaxing into life, tendered by experience, the comfort of the presence of wisdom, with vigor yet, a beauty like a leatherbound book. And the grace of elders realized in full capacity, inspiring as centuries-old trees, the crowning loveliness of natures fulfilled, experience like rings around them of their growth, not separate into years, these feelings, but sensed around them as a life, a single mighty sheath of living over their ordinary comings and goings, sap rising and falling in them in thin streams, surrounded by the immensity of their truth.

Table of Contents

Foreword 20

Introduction 24

Curiosities 26

A Question of Gladness 27

Written in Stone 29

Cleared for Take-Off 34

Domesticities 36

Taking the Plunge 37

Charmed, I'm Sure 43

The Nature of Niches 50

A Sign of Gratitude 52

Geographies 56

A Visit to Liberty 57

Idiosyncracies 62

Bless This Mess 64

Having a Cigarette 66

Demittere Diem 68

A Personal Holiday Tradition 71

Intimate Furniture 75

Tending Pleasures 77

Botanies 78

Root Truth 80

Ridiculously Tiny Trees 82

Quizzical Squash 85

Muguets and Tissues 88

Sprung 90

Startle Display 92

Coincidence of Rarities 95

Geographies 98

The Smudge Between the Stars 99

Creativities 104

A Pocket Sized Mystery 105

Questionable Qualifications 108

A Cherished Mistake 111

No Masterpiece 114

The Birthing Tent 118

Why Write 124

Geographies 126

Paris: A Literary Truffle 127

Technologies 146

Tapdance 147

Derailed and Rerailed 151

Angle Matters 153

Words on a Page 154

Phorgotten Phone 156

Tapping Power 158

Fragilities 162

The Cookie Crumbles 163

What to Tell and When 168

An Argument with Water 171

Geographies 174

City of Strings 175

Walking South 180

Tell of Isarel 187

Sympathies 198

Broken Just So 200

A Phrase to Melt Anxiety 202

A Wish for Any Wedding 204

Soulgrowing 207

Geographies 210

The Limitless Within 211

Glad to Be Human 214

Afterword 222

Acknowledgements 226

Publication Credits 230

About the Author 232

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Irene O’Garden has inspired gladness throughout this masterpiece of creativity... Glad to Be Human will inspire you to live your most vibrant life—and to keep it all in perspective as you take in these extraordinary passages.”
—Kris Carlson, coauthor of the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff series and author of From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy and Heartbroken Open: A Memoir Through Loss to Self-Discovery

Glad to Be Human is an immersion into what we relish, how we live, a kind of shining beacon that doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff...Highly recommended.”

—Janet Pierson, producer of the SXSW Film Conference and Festival

Glad to Be Human takes a defibrillator to your creative center! It’s a field guide to embracing the creativity and spontaneity that bring joy to the business of being human. With an artist’s eye and a poet’s soul, Irene O’Garden shines her light on the bliss that surrounds us. Each of her essays turns the eye toward love and possibility. I am changed by these now dog-eared pages, and I will return to them again and again for inspiration.”
—Annabel Monaghan, author of The Digit Series, columnist for The Week and The Huffington Post

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