Our family dentist, a father, saw me yesterday for a cavity. Earlier this week he had given my daughter a checkup. I told him about a dance night at her school that I was getting ready for. He suggested dancing to a song which I had never heard. I just listened to it and yeah, I’m sitting here crying while writing this.
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive.
“You are isolated, yet you desire to talk to somebody,” Springsteen said. “You are very disempowered, so you seek impact, recognition that you are alive and that you exist. We hope to send people out of the building we play in with a slightly more enhanced sense of what their options might be, emotionally, maybe communally. You empower them a little bit, they empower you. It’s all a battle against the futility and the existential loneliness! It may be that we are all huddled together around the fire and trying to fight off that sense of the inevitable. That’s what we do for one another.”
I loved reading Katherine Goldstein’s story at Salon about her marriage to Travis Morrison, and the surprise different world she became part of:
As a kid, I imagined many things for my life. Marrying a rock star was not one of them. I appreciate and enjoy music, but have no passionate or fanatical interest in it. I don’t know any obscure bands and can’t talk knowledgeably about any artist’s “catalog.” I don’t particularly like going to see live music that much—it’s too loud, and I get too tired….
I started dating Travis Morrison, a computer programmer who worked at my company in early 2010. We got to know each other through chatting at the lunch table. We were the only people in our small office who regularly brought in food from home. I had the vaguest recollection that I had heard from a colleague he had been in some kind of famous band, but I didn’t really know the details..
While the story in Psychology Today is centered on business, it must still be true that the stories we tell our children have impact. Read with them, and read them stories that help them see the world for what it is and can be.
If you are in financial distress and can’t see the immediate value, know that in addition, literature can provide a gateway to other humanities, which is leverage that help navigate the world. Earl Shorris, who recently passed away, and whose book, “The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor” will be published in 2013, said the following:
Numerous forces—hunger, isolation, illness, landlords, police, abuse, neighbors, drugs, criminals, and racism, among many others—exert themselves on the poor at all times and enclose them, making up a “surround of force” from which, it seems, they cannot escape. I had come to understand that this was what kept the poor from being political and that the absence of politics in their lives was what kept them poor. I don’t mean “political” in the sense of voting in an election but in the way Thucydides used the word: to mean activity with other people at every level, from the family to the neighborhood to the broader community to the city-state.
We focus so much on teaching concrete skills in school, as a means to an end, to get a job, but having that as the lone purpose of education is a mistake. I don’t know where I’d be without the books I’d find myself reading way back when. I had thought they were a means to escape whatever was going on my life thru my imagination, and sure, they were, but it turns out they helped me immeasurably in every day life and still do to this day.
The famous quoted passage from John Donne below has been brought up a few times the past few weeks. Here is the whole: “Meditation 17″:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.