The meaning of the word Enthusiasm

Our old garage, West Seattle

Our old garage, West Seattle

In 1993 I made a mix tape called Enthusiasm. It was the Word of the Day that day, one of my favorites. I learned its origin was Greek, you could tell by the way it ended, like Orgasm or Prism.

It was a TDK SA 90 cassette, a mix tape I made but never gave away, I kept for myself. It had illogical transitions from bands like Can and The Fall to live Allman Brothers, a Ginsberg reading, early King Crimson. No one ever made that tape. It had its own strange thread I wove through. Some of the songs came from records from my stepdad John, that’s where I made it, on the same cassette player I have in our garage now, the one he bought somewhere and then put in storage when they moved to France thinking one day they’d move back, but they never did—and then it got loaded on a trailer and hauled across the country and when the truck pulled up they took off some of the limbs on our trees, it was that big backing up.

Our dog has it, our kids have it, but why is it so hard for us to keep as we get older, enthusiasm? I see it in those who act like life is so hard, like it’s such a burden to live: it’s the enthusiasm that’s wicked away from them. I think you can’t blame that on anyone else, it’s a self-stoking fire.

I got home from work and howled with the dog until my throat gave out, and even with the tinnitus I still play Led Zeppelin too loud in the Volvo, especially when the kids are in the back, in hopes they’ll better understand it, they’ll remember it like it was a movie one day. I do my best to write something worth reading, that’s my enthusiasm.

My Cajun friend Myki, who wanted to be a cello player and compose classical music but lost the spark for some reason and became a carpenter instead, who played pool at a dumpy bar down by the lake: he often said when I go, I want to be tired, man. I want to have nothing left. I want to have lived all there is to live, in this life.

That’s what I call enthusiasm.

Categories: inspiration, musings, writing

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20 replies

  1. The movie of Led Zeppelin in the Volvo makes me think of the first time I saw The Song Remains the Same and Robert Plant’s pants…pretty unforgettable. Both of my kids have what alternately gets labeled Attention Issues or Enthusiasm. It’s an energy we have to learn to channel and redirect our entire lives, but it also leads to creativity and love and so many very good things. And sometimes our energy levels wane because it’s like that, but unless our spirit gets broken, it renews somehow. Enthusiasm and optimism go hand in hand maybe? I like the sound of your mix tape and how you made it for yourself…that’s enthusiasm right there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Page in those pants must have been the impetus for young Matt Groenig to get into caricatures. I can see it now, how they flared out at the bottom. You had to be pretty skinny to pull that off…love your take on this, thanks Kristen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I need to find some of that enthusiasm stuff you’re writing about. I’ll look through my mixed tapes to see if there is anything there for me.


  3. That Zeppelin feeling you describe I relate to so much. Love playing all the great stuff for my kids, knowing it goes deeper then most verbal lesson or instructions. Seeing my lil toddler boogying to some song I love is about the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced. As always, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Now that I’m getting (ahem) older, my motto is “Pace yourself.”

    I just looked up the etymology of enthusiasm and find that comes from the Greek for “possessed by a god.” Which god? is always the question …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love when you talk mix tapes. I have no idea what the age gap is between us, but it’ll always bring me back to when life was great, even though those years were some of the absolute worst of my life. Odd how memories work that way… odd how memories work at all. King Krimson… sweet nectar.

    As for the enthusiasm part, I find that I can kick ass all diggity-day long… until I stop. My principal has that exact same attitude; she doesn’t stop until she absolutely is able to comfortably. She wills off getting sick until holiday break, or even until after her ski trip at the start of holiday break, and then gets sick when she’s able to.

    I start to drop if I have any down time between when I get home from work and when I pick up Garrett from daycare. I think you could extend that to one’s entire life. Don’t stop. Don’t stop the beat. Don’t stop ’til you get enough. Most importantly: just don’t stop. It’s those two-hour t.v. breaks at night that make us yawn and look at the clock and reflect that life is so tiring and so hard, even though the prospect of a new day and renewed strength is only et oije blik away (my best to remember German for the blink of an eye).

    We all have that strength. We stop too often and, in the stopping, are defeated mentally. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    You howled. By the way, how Ginsbergian of you.

    Lose your voice. Lift to failure. Write ’til tendonitis and carpal tunnel.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m kind of freaking out on the Howl reference because I was on the trail this morning with my dog, thinking, writing, ideating, and had some notes/images that reminded me of that poem, and I thought even for a second I’d go so far to publish something tomorrow that’s “Howl-esque,” but immediately thought how brash of you Bill! This isn’t, like “Howl.” But I do have some stuff I’d like to pull together you might like to that end, so thanks — hope I can put it out today but got swept up in work unexpectedly. Life is like that. Avoid that TV. I like how you put things here. Don’t stop, as you say. That dude didn’t, really, until he did.


  6. Also, I probably should have asked for your permission, but I just reblogged this… if that’s even a word. Say the word and I’ll take it down. Thanks for your communicative shapes and symbols.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dude no way, no approval or nothin, but thanks for asking. See, we’re PNW, we’re polite like that. Thanks for sharing and glad you enjoyed the post Justin!


  7. Enthusiasm still exists. Inertia’s the enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. i’m all about enthusiasm )



  1. The meaning of the word Enthusiasm — William Pearse | pinklightsabre – badparentingweb

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