The Nature of Enthusiasm

Last night, in the middle of a phone conference for our final round of submissions for Conclave: A Journal of Character, my friend and managing editor S. brought up the subject of enthusiasm, specifically in reference to Eckhart Tolle’s discussion of the etymology and the spiritual practice of enthusiasm.

I haven’t read Tully’s A New Earth, but as I understand it, he writes that instead of relying on ego, enthusiasm rides the wave of the present moment and “gives out its own abundance.” When you combine inspired vision along with excitement your creativity soars. Enthusiasm takes over and you resonate with the creative power of the Universe.

After we finished our talk, discussed the round of dramatic excerpts, and made plans to continue the next evening, I began to think more about enthusiasm. First step for a logophile? Etymology of course.

Enthusiasm comes from the ancient Greek. This from The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology | Date: 1996

enthusiasm †prophetic or poetic frenzy; vain confidence in divine inspiration, misguided religious emotion XVII; rapturous or passionate eagerness XVIII. — F. enthousiasme or late L. enthūsiasmus — Gr. enthousiasmós, f. enthousiázein be inspired or possessed by the god, f. énthous, éntheos inspired, possessed, f. en IN + theós god.
So enthusiast XVII. — F. or ecclL. enthusiastic XVII. — Gr. Hence enthuse vb. XIX.

Reflecting back, I can say that I have been in a state of enthusiasm during several periods of my life, times when I have been completely riding the wave of inspiration, present in the moment. For me, enthusiasm and creativity/creation go hand in hand.

Whether I have been immersed in a literary project, challenged in a seminar, engaged by teaching, or fully present in my body for dance (be it folk, bellydancing, or dancing all night long in Neo in Chicago), when I am creating something that feels authentic and precious to me, I am enthusiastic.

Would I say then that those moments are Divinely inspired? Maybe. I certainly feel compelled by something greater than myself. I know that several writers and artists report this feeling–the idea that the characters and story seem to have a life of their own. Working on The Silence of Trees, I felt as if I had to get the story out. I had to honor the characters and the historical women who inspired them.

When I listen to my intuition and act upon something that engages me, I usually find that I am happiest–even when it means I stay up until 3 am, only to be awakened by the kids at 6am. I may be tired, but I feel fueled by my work. I feel like I am doing what I am meant to do. I am enthusiastic.