“A More Deliberate Life”
Discussion questions for book study groups
- The central theme of the book—“a deliberate life is a search for balance”—suggests that most people’s lives are harried and out of balance. Do you agree? And if so, why?
- In each chapter the author tries to balance two competing parts of his life. Which chapters seem to be the most difficult “balancing acts”? Why? Which balancing acts in your own life are the most difficult? Why?
- Though the goal is balance, Fate doesn’t achieve it, but instead lives “in between” things--country and city, technology and nature, aloneness and loneliness. He seems forever on a journey—in between departure and the destination, but never arriving. Does this seem like a healthy attitude or a destructive one? Why?
- How does Fate seem to balance the I and the Eye, the self and the world, the looking in and the looking out? How do you do it?
- In “A Box of Wind,” Fate explores the difference between religion and spirituality. How would you define that difference as you have experienced them. And why does this difference matter (if it does)?
- Fate writes that “amid the decimated woodlands and farms and sprawling suburbs, developers and nature often collide.” As green space diminishes and the human population grows what responses or solutions does he suggest? What solutions have you discovered in your own community?
- Fate describes his own depression as a “familiar darkness,” and considers why depression diagnoses and anti-depressant drug use have skyrocketed in the U.S. What does this phenomenon seem to reflect, or imply, about the wider culture?
Six Thematic Quotes for discussion
- “Learning to see the beauty and relatedness of the wild without, in the woods, is not separate from learning to see the beauty and relatedness of the wild within, our selves, and in our partners and children.”
- “We are ageless, 24/7 multi-present multi-taskers, which is why some of us feel so distracted and overwhelmed and flee to the woods––to unplug and re-member ourselves.”
- “Our task is no longer to discover and record the rare, but to recover and nurture the ravaged—to try to restore some balance where we live.”
- “Yet I also felt…like I wasn’t strong enough, or like I was taking a drug to repair my personality rather than fend off a disease. What if depression was only that—dis-ease—a deep uneasiness, a difficult sadness, which I had somehow been convinced was not tolerable.”
- “What most interests me is revision––learning to see again. I am looking less for a pure subject, than a moment of pure vision—to see what is in plain sight––a glimpse of the Wild in the ordinary.”
- “Patience” and “passion,” words that seem to be near opposites, share a common Latin root, pati, meaning “to suffer” or “to endure.”