To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.
― William James
Are you familiar with William James? I wasn’t before I found this quote and did some research. You know how I feel about research, right? Love it.
Here are the tidbits that jumped out at me, perhaps mostly because of how they resonate and connect with my own history and story.
- WJ passed away on August 26 – my birthday.
- WJ was a philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States.
- As a Harvard professor, he taught the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, George Santayana, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Barton Perry, and Gertrude Stein, to name a few.
- WJ had two brothers who were part of the military – I have one, along with my great-grandfather, grandfather, father, and cousin.
- His godfather was Ralph Waldo Emerson – my spirit animal. Okay, not really, but I deeply admire Emerson and his writings.
- WJ was a multipotentialite with a wide variety of interests that he studied and wrote about, including medicine, physiology, biology, epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism.
- WJ dealt with invisible illness related to his eyes, back, stomach, and skin. He was eventually diagnosed with neurasthenia, a modern-day version of chronic fatigue syndrome “characterized especially by physical and mental exhaustion usually with accompanying symptoms (such as headache and irritability), of unknown cause but often associated with depression or emotional stress.”
- WJ experienced bouts of depression where he contemplated suicide for months on end – and yet he was successful by any standard measure. It did not preclude him from a life filled with value and service.
- WJ labeled his invisible illness “soul-sickness” and it resolved at age 30, after traveling to Germany in search of a cure and an extended period of philosophical searching – sounds like the wounded healer archetype to me.
- Voluminous is the word used to describe the amount of writing he did throughout his life – my word is prolific.