Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life

by Philip Simmons

Price: $13.50

Paperback: 176 pages Publisher: Bantam (April 29, 2003) ISBN-13: 978-0553381580 Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches


Retails for: $15.00 Our price: $13.50



Now I find myself in late August, with the nights cool and the crickets thick in the fields. Already the first blighted leaves glow scarlet on the red maples. It’s a season of fullness and sweet longings made sweeter now by the fact that I can’t be sure I’ll see this time of the year again....— from Learning to Fall

Philip Simmons was just thirty-five years old, a young husband and father, when he learned that he had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and was told he had less than five years to live.
Taking his fatal illness not as an ending but as a beginning, he embarked on a remarkable ten-year spiritual journey, whose fruits he shares in this book.

In twelve brilliantly crafted essays, Simmons charts his search for peace and his deepening relationship with the mystery of everyday life. Whether finding answers to life's questions in turtle behavior or Buddhist philosophy, Robert Frost's poetry or daily life in his New England town, he offers us the gift of connecting more deeply and  joyously with our own imperfect lives.

Learning to Fall illuminates the journey we all must take — “the work of learning to live richly in the face of loss.”

From our first faltering steps, Simmons says, we may fall into disappointment or grief, fall into or out of love, fall from youth or health. And though we have little choice as to the timing or means of our descent, we may, as he affirms, “fall with grace, to grace.”

With humor, hard-earned wisdom and a keen eye for life’s lessons — whether drawn from great poetry or visits to the town dump — Simmons shares his discovery that even at times of great sorrow we may find profound freedom. And by sharing the wonder of his daily life, he offers us the gift of connecting more deeply and joyously with our own.
“Sometimes there is no difference between a book and a blessing. In Philip Simmons has blessed us all.” — Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings

“Pure poetry, tinged with irony and humor, in the voice of a present-day Thoreau whose Walden is his family, the landscape of New Hampshire, and a young body fading away. A deeply moving rhapsody on inhabiting the human condition.”
— Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living and Wherever You Go, There You Are

“Philip Simmons writes with clarity and a passion for honesty, laced with wit. An extraordinary book.” — Elaine Pagels, Princeton University, author of The Gnostic Gospels

“Generous and genuine, like water from a deep well, halfway between a meditation and a dance, this book is an act of grace.”
— Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart and After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

“Learning to Fall is for anyone who loves life — or needs to love it more.... A wonderful achievement.” — Balfour Mount, M.D., Professor of Palliative Medicine, McGill University

“Not only has Philip Simmons figured out the meaning of life for himself; with prodigious literary grace he has figured out how to tell us too. Required reading for Basic Humanity 101.” — Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of Invisible Lines of Connection



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