A Fool of Myself

All great changes are irksome to the human mind, especially those which are attended with great dangers and uncertain affects.

Cover of "John Adams"

Cover of John Adams

My book club read John Adams by David McCullough this summer, and it has reinvigorated my love of history and biographies! In an author interview in the book’s backmatter, McCullough said he first intended the book to be study of John Adams’ and Thomas Jefferson’s relationship over the years but he found that so much had been written about Jefferson and so little about Adams and decided to write Adams’ biography instead.
Below are two quotes that I marked in the book:
All great changes are irksome to the human mind, especially those which are attended with great dangers and uncertain affects. — John Adams, McCullough 105
This quote was particularly appropriate for me as we were in the middle of selling our home, praying that we would do so soon. We were living in limbo, and the thought of all the changes that lay before us was absolutely vexing some nights as I laid in bed trying to sleep.
I am convinced our own happiness requires that we should continue to mix with the world, and to keep pace with it. … I can speak from experience on the subject. From 1793 to 1797, I remained closely at home, saw none but those who came there, and at length became very sensible of the ill effect it had upon my own mind, and of its direct and irresistible tendency to render me unfit for society, and uneasy when necessarily engaged in it. I felt enough of the effect of withdrawing from the world then to see that it led too an antisocial and misanthropic state of mind, which severely punishes him who gives in to it; and it will be a lesson I never shall forget as to myself. — Thomas Jefferson, McCullough 451
Right around the time this quote came to me, my husband and his work colleagues were in the middle of identifying one another’s Meyers-Briggs personality types. I’m an ISTJ, an off-the-chart introvert. Jefferson, too, is believed to be an introvert, and many of his actions in the book led me to believe he’s one, too. In particular, while everyone else in the Continental Congress chose to reside in Philadelphia near the “action,” Jefferson stayed as close to the edge of town where it was quiet with few people. All that to say, the above quote struck me as personally applicable because I have observed in myself that love as I do to keep to myself, the more I keep to myself the more unfit for society I become.
Loved the book, and I’m eager to eventually watch the mini series some time.
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  1. Pingback: List of 10 books you haven’t read but should part 2 « Zombies Vampires and other Freaks

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