(My) Ordinary Life is Good

…Mr. Landau dismantles common myths and offers strategies to help people find greater purpose in their own lives. Systematically, he refutes the usual arguments as to why life is pointless: Since the universe is so vast and we’re so tiny, nothing that we do matters … no one will remember us; everything we do and treasure will one day perish from the earth. None of these deters Mr. Landau from his rational, philosophical argument for why each individual’s life is meaningful…

Mr. Landau notes that all such concerns are animated by the same mistaken belief: that a valuable life must necessarily be a perfect one. “According to this presupposition,” he writes, “meaningful lives must include some perfection or excellence or some rare and difficult achievements.” Those who despair of life’s meaning can’t see the value in the ordinary; only lives of greatness such as Michelangelo’s or Lincoln’s can be worthwhile.

As Mr. Landau observes, such perfectionism sets a standard for meaningfulness that is nearly impossible to attain. He mentions a talented biologist he knows who considers her life wasted because she didn’t reach the very top of her field. Perfectionism’s other, more odious, problem is its elitism: It assumes that some lives have more worth than others. Though clearly wrong, a version of this idea is deeply embedded in our secular culture. A meaningful life, we’re constantly told, lies in worldly success: going to certain colleges, landing certain jobs and living in certain communities. Mr. Landau doesn’t spell it out, but he seems to understand where this flawed assumption leads. Does the life of a child with Down syndrome have less value than the life of a healthy child? Is a retail clerk leading a less meaningful life than, say, Elon Musk? A perfectionist would have to say yes and yes. But Mr. Landau wisely points out that it’s cruel and misguided to hold ourselves or others to this standard for meaning, because it neglects each life’s inherent worth. […]

In “Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World,” Mr. Landau presents a much-needed lesson in humanity and compassion. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail to achieve your lofty goals, he urges; instead, celebrate the value of an ordinary life well lived. In the same way you don’t have to become a monk or nun to be a good Christian, you don’t have to be a Shakespeare or Rockefeller to lead a good life. Holding your child’s hand, volunteering in your community, doing your job, appreciating the beauty around you—these are the wellsprings of meaning all of us can tap.

~ Emily Esfahani Smith, in her book review titled “Review: Redefining a Well-Lived Life” of “Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World” by Iddo Landau (August 1, 2017)


Photo: Hard Rock Hotel in Pattaya, Thailand via Eclecticitylight. Thank you Doug.

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Photo: by Toby Melville/Reuters from wsj.com – Thousands of wading birds flying onto sandbanks during high tide at The Wash estuary in Norfolk, England.

Sunday Morning

 

Thank you, Creator, that you created pigs and elephants with long snouts, that you shredded leaves and hearts, that you gave beets their sweetness. Thank you for nightingales and bedbugs. That girls have breasts, that fish breathe air, that we have lightning and cherries. That you commanded us to multiply in most eccentric ways, that you gave thought to stones, seas, and people.

~ Anna Kamienska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook


Photo: © Patrick Gonzalès )via Newthom)

Year 7.

2204 days.

Back to back to back, the chain unbroken.

WordPress sends its anniversary wishes.  Joined October, 2011.  Year 7…and counting.

And I’m…

Grateful for you.


Notes:

 

Have you had it with news, fake news, politics, etc.? Be swept away for a moment. (55 sec)

One autumn afternoon…

One autumn afternoon I take the clean crockery out of the dishwasher while I am frying sausages and cooking macaroni, and when the dishwasher is empty, I load it with breakfast plates…It’s drizzling, the sky is grey and the air perfectly still. Somewhere above me there is a honk, then another, and I look up. Maybe ten geese are flying by in V-formation. I can hear their wingbeats as they lie on the air with their outstretched necks and undulating movements….

Within me the migrating birds are living a life of their own. I’m not thinking of them, but they are there, in the stream of sensations and feelings which at times freeze into images. Not clear and distinct images, as with photographs, for that isn’t how the external gets depicted within us, but as if in rifts: a few black triangles, a sky, and then that sound, of several pairs of wings beating up in the air. That sound awakens feelings. What kind of feelings? I ask myself now, as I write this. I know them so well, but only as feelings, not as thoughts or concepts. The sound of birds’ wings beating maybe fifteen metres up in the air, heard twice or thrice every autumn for forty years.

Once, in childhood, the world was boundless. Africa, Australia, Asia, America, these were places beyond the horizon, far away from everything, with inexhaustible reservoirs of animals and landscapes. That one could actually travel there was as unthinkable as that one might journey into one of the many books I read at that time. But slowly – for it didn’t come to me as a sudden insight – I began to understand what the migration of birds signified. That they flew all that way under their own power, and that the world wasn’t boundless but limited, and that neither the place they left nor the place they arrived at were abstract but concrete and local.

Yes, that is what I sensed as I wedged the spatula under the slices of sausage and placed them on the green serving dish, then poured the macaroni into a glass bowl. The world is material. We are always in a certain place. Now I am here.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from “The Migration of Birds” in “Autumn


Notes:

…you can’t stand next to this music and not be affected

You need to stick with this to the finish…

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week


Source: Nini Poppins

As a child, I learned to eat honeysuckle sugar.

As a child, I learned to eat honeysuckle sugar. It is a tedious process, […] one that requires demonstration and touch. Despite the meager payoff, a few drops of nectar, these are small, bright memories. When I look through my past for a consistent pleasure, I find those empty, discarded blossoms scattered through my childhood summers.

~ Alysia Sawchyn, from “Riverbanks and Honeysuckle,” Cutbank (no. 86, July 2016)


Notes:

  • Inspired by Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay: “the surface on which we step has no more substance than the clouds floating above us on a summer day.
  • Photo of Honeysuckle: Awkward Botany.
  • Prose Source: Memory’s Landscape.  Alysia Sawchyn was the Winner of the CutBank 2016 Big Sky, Small Prose: Flash Contest with Riverbanks and Honeysuckle.

It’s been a long day

luci d'inverno

The blue river is grey at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.

~ Jack Gilbert, “Waking at Night” (The Greensboro Review, Fall 2008)


Notes:

 

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