feels sacred, a snapshot of the world before everything in it changed

The mail sat in a pile on the counter by the stove. The National Geographic was rather lackluster that month. Several years ago I found that same issue in a used book store—December 1964—and have it here somewhere between all my books and papers. I doubt a thing like that is valuable fifty years later, but to me that magazine feels sacred, a snapshot of the world before everything in it changed for me. It was nothing special. The cover shows two ugly white birds, doves maybe, sitting on a cast-iron fence. A holy cross looms out of focus above them. The issue includes profiles of Washington, D.C., and some exotic vacation destinations in Mexico and the Middle East. That night, when it was new and still smelled of glue and ink, I opened it briefly to a picture of a palm tree against a pink sunset, then slapped it down on the kitchen table, disappointed. I preferred to read about places like India, Belarus, the slums of Brazil, the starving children in Africa.

~ Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen: A Novel


  1. a moment in a simpler time

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The two white birds are not ugly!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I so love those ‘little stories’ – imagine, to dive back to the first number(s) of NG. I ‘met’ these mags the first time when I lived in Toronto and I was madly in love with their contents. It’s like a trip down memory lane for me.
    And I agree with Sawsan, I find the doves lovely!
    Thanks for always finding something special 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Oohhhh….heavy. Still thinking about 1964. Wondering if it was really that much more innocent. Just different times.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to have boxes of those. Boxes and boxes! Like most people I had encyclopedias too. Those are hallmarks of another era, better in some ways, worse in others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You know you are entering an interested and well-informed person’s abode when you see those yellow spines lined up…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It´s funny how a song, a painting or a cover of a magazine can evoke memories of times past. A good writing prompt too.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I am always intrigued by our human tenancy to look at the past as a ‘simpler’ time, when really, it was just a different time. I remember hiding under my desk in the 1960’s as we practiced for nuclear fallout because of the Cuban crisis. And it felt like the end of the world was close because of the Cold War and the assinations of JFK and Martin Luther King. And the Vietnam War and watching the civil rights movement from afar and moving to France and being frightened of the Algerian Crisis.

    And still, those National Geographics bring me back to memories of my childhood. Of reading them and oohing and aahing over the photographs and planning trips in my mind of the places I would go…

    And now, I search for issues from the 60s and 70s as their ink is best for mixed media art as applying a certain solvent moves the ink in mysterious and magical ways.

    Ahh yes. The times, they are a changin’.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I think it’s nice to read about both palm trees set against a sunset, as well as slums and starving children. Helps remind me that while there are significant challenges in the world, there is also beauty.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Time changes and ugly birds move on making the way for the colorful. Reality is subject to time and circumstance. But truth is never changing reality. The one image on that magazine cover which is conserved is the cross. It endures all things as love does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan, I read your comment earlier. And reflected on your previous comments. And you come as close to anyone that I know of being “pure” in thought. While none of us are Pure, you are as close to the ideal that I have intersected with…

      I dislike ideological purity, which doesn’t exist in nature. No one is pure. Humanity is always corrupt in one way or another, despite its touching need for gold-plated and laudable ideals. Everyone’s beliefs, when lived out, when activated, when embodied, are fungible, complex, contradictory, much more so than whatever it is they proclaim.

      ~ Rick Moody, The Long Accomplishment: A Memoir of Hope and Struggle in Matrimony (Henry Holt & Company, August 6, 2019)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Boxes and boxes, drowning in boxes

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t know that life was better back then, but, dare I say, the magazine was. I haven’t read NGM in a while, as it seems that the content has been cut so much it is not much more than a picture book anymore. But it’s a special publication to me still as it was a NG article that changed my life back in the 70’s when I read about the Puget Sound region and decided I would live there, and have since 1979. Best decision ever. Thanks for the reminder David!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: