“It’s faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living.”Oliver Wendell Holmes
I confess that when I hear someone is enthusiastic about something, I tend to go cold inside. Especially if I am relying on that person to follow-through in a long term commitment. In today’s world the noun “enthusiasm” seems rather shallow and fleeting. Too many times when the initial excitement wears off, so does the enthusiasm and, with it, the desire to carry on to completion.
The current Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
Intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval: “her energy and enthusiasm for life expressed enthusiasm about the current leaders”
To me this, just does not cry out with a long term, finishing commitment sound. I must confess that over the past few weeks, my enthusiasm has waned a bit. Not sure why. Could be the transition from summer to fall, although it has been fairly smooth even with its business. Maybe its the seasonal round of routine medical checks we go through at this time which I find rather tedious.
It probably has more to do with the fact that fall is my favorite time of year and I just want to play, but there is so much going on. My business is ramping up for the holidays. There are lots of activities associated with the school where my husband teaches and fairs, festivals, concerts abound. I want to play!
Enthusiasm – Another definition
At its’ roots, (in the world of words, its’ etymology), enthusiasm has a deeper meaning
enthusiasm (n.) c. 1600, from Middle French enthousiasme (16c.) and directly from Late Latin enthusiasmus, from Greek enthousiasmos “divine inspiration, enthusiasm (produced by certain kinds of music, etc.),” from enthousiazein “be inspired or possessed by a god, be rapt, be in ecstasy,” from entheos “divinely inspired, possessed by a god,” from en “in” (see en- (2)) + theos “god” (see theo-).
That puts the word in a more profound place. Something that arises, not merely from a soulish emotional place, but from the spirit then up into the soul. In this context it is more solid and enduring, even sustainable. It has more substance, even commitment.
At some point this root meaning acquired a derogatory sense of “excessive religious emotion through the conceit of special revelation from God” (1650s) under the Puritans, The generalized meaning “fervor, zeal” (the main modern sense) is first recorded 1716. A now archaic meaning gave it a further derogatory slant as
“religious fervor supposedly resulting directly from divine inspiration, typically involving speaking in tongues and wild, uncoordinated movements of the body.”
Gee, what is it we see at many sporting events today? Religious fever? but I digress..
In reality being enthusiastic about a venture, an event, a relationship, in other words, life, is a good thing. However, it does not solely rest on one’s emotions, but rather on vision. I like the way Mr. Holmes, who lived when the root meaning of the word was still been alive, put it: faith in something coupled with enthusiasm makes life a living thing. A journey along a bridge of stone. A sure path, a Stonebridge.
So I am re-embracing enthusiasm. I may even indulge in some “divinely inspired, speaking in tongues and wild, uncoordinated movements of the body”, minus the sporting event.
What are you choosing to be enthusiastic about this week?