Archive for ‘June, 2013’

This is what you must be like. Grow wherever life puts you down.
-Ben Okri

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1. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup

2. DOMA got told to take a seat

3. (Speaking of “TAKE A SEAT”) I found out that Jack Bauer will be resurrected in 2014

4. I saved not one, not two, but THREE turtles from being squished by cars and bikers on busy roads and bike trails

YUP.

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Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.

Verlyn Klinkenborg’s op-ed in the NYT’s got me falling in love with (or at least rediscovering faith in) the value of a liberal arts degree, all over again. And, she implicitly brings up a question I’ve been brooding over for a while: if learning is a lifelong process, then why does it seem like society is increasingly rewarding only skills and talents that are immediately applicable? What about the skills that keep us the learners, in addition to the ones that make us the learned?

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London poet & artist Robert Montgomery's work

London poet & artist Robert Montgomery’s work

I’m stuck on the double entendre, this question of questions. (Breezing through my sister’s copy of Lean In isn’t helping me forget it, either.)

One: What MUST HAPPEN, what is naturally inevitable, what must be, what wants to happen? What – in you, in me, in this universe, and outside it – is waiting for fire?

Two: In order for something to be born…. what must die? If one kernel of existence is set alight, what other fire must burn out to make way for it?

Everything I’ve experienced lately has been bringing me back to this question. Filling my car with gas. What had to die for that energy to be born? Realizing my goals for next week, for next year, for this lifetime. For the next ten minutes. What must die for them to be? Fear. Self-doubt. Intimidation by the unknown. Anxiety. Unwarranted apprehension. Callousness with others, with myself. Closing doors that can do nothing but let light and fresh air in. 

More than ever, I can see why a terribly easy way for anyone to die a premature death in mind, body and soul and be buried with their forgotten magic is by choosing to not even once entertain that question.

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I’ve just stumbled upon Malaysian architect/artist Hong Yi (also known as Red) and her brilliant work. For the past 31 days, she has created stunning artwork using nothing but food and a white plate for a backdrop. Some of her amazing work is below. You can read more about her here and discover all 31 pieces of food art for yourself here. Warning: do this only if you have some time to kill online. Her stuff is captivating.

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Red photographing her work

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Faulkner said try to be better than yourself. I never really understood that until today.

This morning, after a phone interview, I set out to get some fresh air and pressed pavement under my soles. I always wear a watch when I run, so as to carefully clock the minutes I spend in motion and how long I’ve been out (my mother worries when I’m gone from her sight for more than ten minutes at any given point). I usually don’t run for more than an hour because she’d probably have a coronary (love you, mom). I couldn’t find my watch but I wasn’t going to let it stop me, so the sneakers got laced up and out the door I flew. I hit a serious state of flow; time didn’t exist. Perhaps it was the magic of a rainy morning that turns into a sunny afternoon, but before I knew it, I was zipping past unfamiliar landmarks, trees and smells. The air kept flowing into my lungs like the energy flowing through my body, though, so I kept going. This might sound strange, but I don’t remember consciously looping around to run back toward home, but somehow I found myself back toward the steep hill leading home. I didn’t realize how tired and jelly-like my legs felt until I hit the corner of my driveway — and then I really felt it. Exhausted, happy, and curious, I mapped my run online when I got indoors. 

Let me start by saying I’ve never just moseyed out the door and run more than 13 miles in my life. Today, I ran 16. And when I stretched to cool down, I felt such a release in my hips and legs and stretched farther than I ever thought I could.

We never know what flowers look like until they bloom. Why do we do that to ourselves, then? Why do we tend to presume we know what we’re capable of before we try?

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Blessedness is within us all
It lies upon the long scaffold
Patrols the vaporous hall
In our pursuits, though still, we venture forth
Hoping to grasp a handful of cloud and return
Unscathed, cloud in hand. We encounter
Space, fist, violin, or this — an immaculate face
Of a boy, somewhat wild, smiling in the sun.
He raises his hand, as if in carefree salute
Shading eyes that contain the thread of God.

Soon they will gather power, disenchantment
They will reflect enlightenment, agony
They will reveal the process of love
They will, in an hour alone, shed tears.
His mouth a circlet, a baptismal font
Opening wide as the lips of a damsel
Sounding the dizzying extremes.
The relativity of vein, the hip of unrest
For the sake of wing there is shoulder.
For symmetry there is blade.
He kneels, humiliates, he pierces her side.
Offering spleen to the wolves of the forest.
He races across the tiles, the human board.
Virility, coquetry all a game — well played.
Immersed in luminous disgrace, he lifts
As a slave, a nymph, a fabulous hood
As a rose, a thief of life, he will parade
Nude crowned with leaves, immortal.
He will sing of the body, his truth
He will increase the shining neck
Pluck airs toward our delight
Of the waning
The blossoming
The violent charade

But who will sing of him?
Who will sing of his blessedness?
The blameless eye, the radiant grin
For he, his own messenger, is gone
He has leapt through the orphic glass
To wander eternally
In search of perfection
His blue ankles tattooed with stars.

-Patti Smith, “Reflecting Robert”

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