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  1. Great enthusiasm and energy.
  2. A quality of excitement and piquancy.
gusto – relish – vitality

I recently came across the words of Henry Rollins, an actor, author, musician, and poet, that got me thinking about the components of zest in my life. Rollins shared, ‘[t]here are so many hammocks to catch you if you fall, so many laws to keep you from experience. All these cities I have been in the last few weeks make me fully understand the cozy, stifling state in which most people pass through life. I don’t want to pass through life like a smooth plane ride. All you do is get to breathe and copulate and finally die. … People will walk by and say, “Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case.” I will turn and say to them “It is you who are the basket case. For every moment you hated your job, cursed your wife and sold yourself to a dream that you didn’t even conceive. For the times your soul screamed yes and you said no. For all of that. For your self-torture, I see the glowing eyes of the sun! The air talks to me! I am at all times!” And maybe, the passers by will drop a coin into my cup.’

Typography courtesy of Mae Cheverette

Rollins’ words, to say the least, are intriguing. I found quite a bit of similarity between his perception and mine. Zest, as I apply it to my life, is what shakes me and awakens me: diversity, love, nature, and the incredibly entertaining human spirit.

The great Robert Frost explained zest in life as “the pleasure of taking pains.” To engage with life as it unfolds with its myriad of challenges and delights, instead of running from, hiding, masking, denying the truth of the sum of experiences (both smooth and chaotic) that accompany “me,” “myself,” and “I.” Could it be that the meaning of life is to give life meaning?

Another of my favorite poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, dared me through his words to “live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air” and that is exactly the kind of zest I choose to savor from the rind of life … even if, on occasion, it is sour as lemons!

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