This book has a glorious cover that is well-matched to the contents. Julia Baird – historian, journalist, TV presenter – blends personal experience, scientific research, philosophy and theology to outline her argument that instead of asking how we stay happy we should ask “how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom when the world goes dark, when we are, for instance, overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain?”.
Beginning with a discussion of literal phosphoresence – light released by natural substances or organisms – Baird uses this phenomenon as “the perfect metaphor for flashes of life in the middle of the dark, or joy in difficult times”.
She wrote this book during and after her own period of intense darkness, dealing with illness where recovery was far from certain and she felt like “a woman submerged, under the sea …. alive, but suspended … alone, but not afraid”.
Some of her stops on her pathway to find the light within were not for me, but I found plenty of fuel for my own phosphoresence, to sustain me in my own dark times.
The value of seeking awe, wonder and silence in nature particularly through “inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness”.
The Overview Effect – the psychological impact of seeing the Earth from orbit, a borderless whole, suspended in space.
Accepting impermanence, relishing the transient beauty of flowering, and savouring the possibilities in every moment.
The importance of supporting and sustaining one another, taking delight in the good fortunes of others, and walking each other home.
And the luminous beauty of that glorious cover.