(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.

 

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)

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

Time to stand your ground…

Tom Petty, 66, was reportedly rushed to the UCLA Santa Monica hospital today after being found unconscious in his Malibu home. Various reports state that “he is clinging to life” after a heart attack.  On a long list of my Tom Petty favorites, “I Won’t Back Down” is my siren song.  Stand your ground one more time Tom.

Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
No, I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground

 

A neighborhood. At dusk.

A neighborhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Stars and moths.
And rinds slanting around fruit.

But not yet.

One tree is black.
One window is yellow as butter.

A woman leans down to catch a child
who has run into her arms
this moment.

Stars rise.
Moths flutter.
Apples sweeten in the dark.

~ Eavan Boland, “This Moment” from In a Time of Violence


Notes: Poem Source – The Writer’s Almanac. Photo: Source- Unknown

Driving Nowhere Fast. At the DMV.

It’s 10:16 am, Saturday morning, and I’m sitting in the DMV.

My ticket #: A-160. Yes, #160. and that’s just the “A’s”.

I’m watching the attendant at the entrance. She’s conducting emergency room triage, with victims coming through the door in shock, experiencing some form of bloodless trauma.

It’s 79° F, a gorgeous Saturday in late September. And here we are, at the DMV. It’s Saturday for God’s sake, we can’t be here.

“Take a ticket,” she calls out, “grab a seat.” There’s many seats, most taken, a smattering of empties dispersed throughout the room, with a zero lot line between each.  Each incoming patron’s reaction is the same: they look around, inhale, walk slowly to a seat, shoehorn themselves in, and slump heavily into the hardback metal chair.

Now serving A (pause) 66 at Station 29″

The computer generated voice, a Male voice, calls your number over the loud speaker, calls it again, and then skips to the next. There are Categories A, B, C, D and E, which I’m sure tie to a unique DMV service, but I was unable to (and uninterested in) trying to crack the code.  My attention was on the “A’s”, and the numbers flashing on the overhead monitors.

Now serving A (pause) 68 at Station 22″

What is it with the DMV that elicits such dread? And why does such a simple process (should be) of license renewal strike such fear?

Now serving A (pause) 71 at Station 13″

There are no 1% privileges here. No Fast Passes. No Speed Passes. No TSA lines. No CLEAR. No appointments. No tips to jump the line.

You sit, and you wait.  And you wait, and you wait.

Now serving A (pause) 73 at Station 19″

Heads are down, Smartphones, Smartphones, Smartphones. Not A.D. or B.C. It’s B.S. Before Smartphones. How did we manage without smartphones. What occupied our time? What kept us from going out of our minds?

[Read more…]

T.G.I.F.

So I say to you.

This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:

Like a tiny drop of dew,
or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.

— Buddha, from the Diamond Sūtra


Notes:

  • Diamond Sūtra: “A copy of the Chinese version of Diamond Sūtra, found among the Dunhuang manuscripts in the early 20th century by Aurel Stein, was dated back to 11 May 868. It is, in the words of the British Library, “the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book.” (Source: Wiki)
  • Photo (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

8:45 a.m.

9-11-torri2.jpg

8:45 a.m., September 11, 2001: A hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, Massachusetts, crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it afire.


Notes:

  • DK Notable: …And at 8:45 am today, September 11, 2017, I’m 34,000 feet up on Delta 5898. A few minutes earlier, the pilot comes on the intercom: “There’s heavy turbulence above us and below us but we’ve seemed to tuck in a quiet sleeve here in between – let’s hope this continues. Please buckle up.”
  • Quote: Chronology of Terror, CNN.com
  • Art: (via menteattuale)
  • Related Post: Flying Over I-40. With Repose.

Sunday Morning (38 sec)

Bison at the American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana.

For international viewers, find link to video here: CBS Sunday Morning, Nature: Bison

 

“No, Buddy, I have to do this.”

When I was young, I never envisioned stand-up as a way to make a living. I was always the guy on the edge of the crowd saying things to people next to me and they’d laugh. I couldn’t help myself. Stand-up was something I had to do. […]

I probably got my first laugh at home. When someone laughed at something I said, I liked how laughter sounded. I also wanted to hear that sound more. I still like hearing that sound. […]

I stammered as a kid. You can hear it in my routines. But it was never a problem. I found that people finish your sentences when you start to stammer. They try to help you out, so you wind up off the hook.

I attended Loyola University and majored in business management and minored in accounting. I always had a head for numbers. Then I went into the Army during the Korean War. When I was discharged, I went to law school under the GI Bill. Then I left to work as an accountant.But accounting was painfully dullThat’s when I convinced myself to try to make a living at comedy as a solo act. But it was a slow process, and I took part-time jobs to make ends meet. In the late 1950s, I worked behind the counter at the Illinois unemployment office. I was paid $65 a week, but the claimants got checks for $55 and they only had to come in one day a week. So I left. […]

As my stand-up career evolved, I became known for keeping a straight face and for a slight, endearing stammer. The stammer is real. As for the straight face, that’s just my delivery.

Ginnie and I met in 1963 through comedian Buddy Hackett. When Buddy and I were first introduced, we started talking and I told him I had an accounting degree.

He said, “You mean you don’t have to do this?” I laughed and said, “No, Buddy, I have to do this.”

~ Bob Newhart, excerpts from Bob Newhart’s Ridiculous Road to Comedy (WSJ · by Aug. 29, 2017)

Bob Newhart, 87, is a stand-up comedian and actor who won three Grammy Awards in 1961 for his first comedy albums. He starred in two successful TV sitcoms, “The Bob Newhart Show” in the 1970s and “Newhart” in the ’80s, as well as in films such as “Catch-22.” He spoke with Marc Myers in this interview.


More famous lines from Bob Newhart:

  • “The first time I got up in front of an audience was terror, abject terror, which continued for another four or five years. There still is, a little bit.”
  • “I’ve been told to speed up my delivery when I perform. But if I lose the stammer, I’m just another slightly amusing accountant.”
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