elizabeth taylor by warhol Source: Laura Deutsch I sanitized a piece about my trip to the Museum of Modern Art in Queens with my mother and her friends. A piece that made all my friends and fellow writers laugh. I thought I’d take a test run by letting Mom read an essay about her friends, not focusing on her. In the piece, Mom’s friend Helen, 86, was driving us to the Matisse/Picasso exhibit. Shirley, 84, rode shotgun. Mom and I were crammed into the Mazda's back seat with Flo, a baby at 75. I, younger still, perched on the middle hump. Helen, birdlike, thin and small, with short, feathery, silver hair, headed down the hill from Mom’s house to pick up the Long Island Expressway. Shirley's broad shoulders looked even wider from behind. I could see the bald spot on her crown, surrounded by a frizz of black hair. When she turned to smile at me, I saw her make-up was off the mark, like Warhol's off-register color print of Elizabeth Taylor at SFMOMA. Mom: Oh, so … [Read more...] about Are You Mean?
Suburban mazda of farmington hills
White-Tailed Deer in Woods Source: Photograph Copyright © 2019 by Susan Hooper For the past few years, I have lived in a suburban development at the base of a mountain. On my regular walks, I have encountered a variety of wild animals, including deer, snakes and the occasional wild turkey. The ancestors of these animals inhabited this area long before humans encroached, so I am trying to be a good neighbor. I am also learning new lessons in communication between humans and animals. I was somewhat alarmed last summer by reports of four rattlesnakes found at different places in the development. I was even more distressed to learn this spring that, as a neighbor was setting out with his dog for an early morning walk, a bear dropped from the branches of a tree in his front yard, landed on the lawn, and ambled off into the woods behind the house. After the rattlesnake sightings, I found a helpful story online with advice from a wildlife expert. He said rattlesnakes that feel … [Read more...] about Making Small Talk With Wild Animals
Based in Revelstoke, British Columbia, ski-mountaineer Greg Hill has completed many first descents but is best known for climbing and skiing 2 million vertical feet (609km/378 miles) in 2010. This feat required him to ascend (and then descend) 71 mountains in North and South America in one calendar year – and he did about half of them solo. The following year, Men’s Fitness magazine not surprisingly named Hill one of the ‘Top 25 Fittest Guys in the World’. He has summited and skied over 220 mountains all over the globe, including in Scandinavia, the Alps, Nepal and Pakistan. Still from The Electric Adventurer, starring Greg Hill. Source: Courtesy Rylo/The Electric Adventurer. For Hill, the mountains represent a bottomless source of energy and happiness. When I spoke to him he pointed out a history of depression among the men in his family but said he has avoided that illness. ‘In my family there are some “dark passengers” but I … [Read more...] about Ski-Mountaineering and Self-Knowledge
Awe calms the mind and soothes the spirit. It defuses anxiety, stress, and unhappiness, while also inspiring curiosity and enhancing creativity. And yet, it is being snuffed out by our increasingly homogenized world. Thankfully, awe is easy to inspire. Close your eyes. Imagine that you are standing atop a tall craggy mountain: Wind whistling through your hair, sun shining on your face. Feel the immensity of the mountains around you. See their snow-capped peaks streaming off into the distance in every direction. And there…over there…is an immense storm barrelling towards you. You are held in awe by nature’s power. Awe is that feeling you get when confronted with something vast that transcends normality, and that you struggle to fully understand. It’s amazement tinged with an edge of fear. Your senses are sharpened and fuse into one over-arching sense of being. The mind is stilled and you lose your egocentric sense of self. You become lost in the scene that … [Read more...] about Is Awe Our Most Underrated and Powerful Emotion?
Before we look at the different groupings in which I’ve arranged my selections, I’d like to say a few words about what I didn’t include, and why. I chose to eliminate many quotes from consideration because they referred to something as infinite solely because it was beyond their grasp—without, that is, saying anything meaningful about this most elusive of concepts. Other quotes simply didn’t withstand scrutiny: To be blunt, upon examination they were simply hyperbolic or didn’t make much sense. My favorite here? Drew Barrymore’s somewhat pompous statement: “Everything I do, I do infinite percent.” Many other quotes initially seemed quite profound, but finally impressed me as more obscure than anything else. What they mostly suggested was hazy (vs. rigorous) thinking. In fact, I found one quote that pointedly “exposed” their dubious thought process: “While many people are trying to be in tune with [the] … [Read more...] about Contemplating Infinity: 6 Sets of Illuminating Quotes