Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beatiful writing and the stars

1.When I read the NY Times editorial page and come to writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg I know it by reading the first sentence that its his writing. Here's a quote from the most recent one, but check him out (you can find about 500 of them on NYTimes/org) and enjoy him.
He's talking here about the "geography of familiarity" and one night coming home from a restaurant getting lost:

"And as I drove, I admired not only the beauty of the night but also the pleasurable sense of being comfortably lost. At last I came to an unfamiliar intersection and made a right. The moment I did so, I knew exactly where I was, and I could feel my sense of being displaced in the night slip away. It was like looking into an unknown sky and seeing the stars suddenly whirl about until they formed the age-old, long-familiar constellations of my childhood. The surprise wasn’t just being reoriented so abruptly. It was also discovering that an unfamiliar world lay a few dozen yards off a road I drive all the time. In a way, the unfamiliarity of that world has been eroded now by driving through it once.

....home is ultimately a portable concept, something we’ve nearly all discovered for ourselves in our mobile lives. The trick, of course — and it is a hard one to master — is to think of home not as a place we go to or come from, not as something inherent in the world itself, but as a place we carry inside ourselves, a place where we welcome the unfamiliar because we know that as time passes it will become the very bedrock of our being." VERLYN KLINKENBORG

(from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/opinion/03weds4.html?adxnnl=1&emc=eta1&adxnnlx=1244561376-KCOp/iFmurQK0dIO3QD2Cg)

2. thanks to Pete Sutherland for recommending this graduation speech by environmental activist Paul Hawken in Portland

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn't stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn't ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

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