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Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder, and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark (2020)

av Julia Baird

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3131085,455 (4.08)1
A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the 'light within' that Julia Baird calls 'phosphorescence' – which will sustain us even through the darkest times. Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to the science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them? And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we're overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most - finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?… (mer)
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“What has fascinated and sustained me over these last few years has been the notion that we have the ability to find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light — a light to ward off the darkness. This is not about burning brightly, but yielding simple phosphorescence — being luminous at temperatures below incandescence, quietly glowing without combusting. Staying alive, remaining upright, even when lashed by doubt.”

Julia Baird is an Australian journalist, broadcaster and author. She hosts The Drum on ABCTV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the International New York Times. Her book Phosphorescence is part self-help and part memoir, with some chapters giving advice to her children.

The basis of the book is finding joy in small things and ways to sustain ourselves through tough times. She suggests time spent in nature, ocean swims, savouring things, friendship and faith. All of these things are fairly obvious but possibly this comes as a timely reminder during a pandemic when many are burnt out, isolated and struggling.

People have criticized Baird for being a privileged white woman writing for other privileged white women. My thoughts are that most self-help literature falls into this category, and likely so do many of the readers and reviewers. I don’t see anything wrong with writing about ways to cope in this modern-day concrete jungle, as although the hardships may not compare to those experienced by the two-thirds world, they still do exist and need some negotiating. Many people in affluent places still suffer with mental health issues, grief and loss. To be fair to Baird she also has evidently suffered with her battle with ill health and cancer.

The book is a bit of a mish-mash of self help advice, Baird’s own stories and her take on feminism and the church. One of the later chapters is about faith and religion, which may be too much for some people, but I appreciated the fact that her faith was inclusive, non-judgemental and she tackled the patriarchy within the church head on.

As she says, “First, pay attention. Second, do not underestimate the soothing power of the ordinary. Third, seek awe, and nature, daily. Fourth . . . well, so many things: show kindness; practise grace; eschew vanity; be bold; embrace friends, family, faith and doubt, imperfection and mess; and live deliberately.”

I didn’t find this anything new or remarkable but the writing is beautiful and is possibly a gentle reminder of some important truths. 3.5 stars for me. ( )
  mimbza | Apr 22, 2024 |
I was a bit iffy on this book when I started (there was an element of privilege that I wasn’t sure would be addressed, but then it kind of was…) but I got into it a bit more as it progressed. Bonus points for mentioning Story Factory :) ( )
  Amzzz | Sep 11, 2022 |
A thoughtful reflection on life from a position of near death. How do we go on when everything seems dark? I loved listening to Julia read this - there were parts I might otherwise have sped through.m ( )
  oldblack | Sep 11, 2022 |
Absolutely loved this memoir. Would recommend it to anyone but especially those who have or are suffering from cancer. I found this book beautifully written and uplifting. Well done Julia Baird, you deserve all the accolades coming your way. ( )
  MariaPFrino | Feb 4, 2022 |
This is totally different to my normal reading material. However, my niece and her man gave me the book for Christmas and I was determined to read the book for that reason alone. Phosphorescence is a big word that I find difficult to say, let alone know what it means. And, I had no clue what the book might present me, so was surprised to find it isn't a novel at all. :)

My surprise was deepened when the first chapter turned out to be about jellyfish. Yet, once the surprise ebbed, I was captivated. Honestly, I didn't know how interesting jellyfish could be. Yet, of course, the book is so much more than jellyfish too. This is an inspirational, self-help book that speaks to your inner emotions and sooths your soul.

Each reader will take something different from each chapter. But I believe, for me, it allowed me to view the world through someone else's eyes. It allowed me to feel, experience, and understand what's going on around me in nature and how that, if noticed, can heal our wounds and lift our spirits.

We rely on electronics too much. We have become separated from those around us, especially now in this new COVID world. Yet, we can still be happy and content if we appreciate the smaller things.

There were two chapters that I couldn't finish reading. I got the jist of what was being said, but I felt the message went on for too long, and I grew bored. However, those two chapters aside, and I enjoyed the book immensely. No, it wasn't a novel, but it still took me to other places and allowed me to be.

Not everyone will love the book, but I would recommend you try it to see if you do...or not. ( )
  KarenLeeField | Aug 24, 2021 |
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Phosphorescence. Now there's a word to lift your
hat to . . . to find that phosphorescence, that light
within, that's the genius behind poetry . . .


— Emily Dickinson
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To my luminous children,
Poppy and Sam, 
 
and my mother, Judy, 
the lamp who has lit our family. 
 
And to Jock, 
who, herself, is 
incandescence in the dark.
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There are few things as startling as encountering an unearthly glow in the wild.
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A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the 'light within' that Julia Baird calls 'phosphorescence' – which will sustain us even through the darkest times. Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to the science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them? And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we're overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most - finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?

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