Imagine an infant lying in its cradle, discovering its voice, purring and murmuring MMM to itself


Bernstein reminded me that the word “education” is related to the Latin educere—“ to bring forth what is within”— and then added: “Though I can’t prove it, deep in my heart I know that every person is born with the love of learning. Without exception. Every infant studies its toes and fingers, and a child’s discovery of his or her voice must be one of the most extraordinary of life’s moments. I’ve suggested that there must be proto-syllables existing at the beginnings of all languages— like ma (or some variant of it), which, in almost every tongue, means mother— mater, madre, mère, mutter, mat, Ima, shi-ma, mama. Imagine an infant lying in its cradle, discovering its voice, purring and murmuring MMM to itself… […]

Whether teaching children or adults, Bernstein understood that loving and learning are inextricably linked, that real knowledge is a concomitant of the desire to know, and that music itself— a meeting of living creator and creative listener— is one of the most efficacious vehicles for teaching. As a conductor, Bernstein experienced the relationship between himself and his orchestra as that of a lover and his beloved. As he remarked at the conclusion of his 1955 Omnibus television broadcast “The Art of Conducting”:

“The conductor must not only make his orchestra play; he must make them want to play…. It is not so much imposing his will on them like a dictator; it is more like projecting his feelings around him so that they reach the last man in the second violin section. And when this happens— when one hundred men share his feelings, exactly, simultaneously, responding as one to each rise and fall of the music, to each point of arrival and departure, to each little inner pulse— then there is a human identity of feeling that has no equal elsewhere. It is the closest thing I know to love itself.”

~ Jonathan Cott, Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein

Notes: Original Source – Brainpickings

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


My goal has not been reached; but I am practicing. I don’t yet know when I shall succeed in learning not to write; the obsession, the obligation are half a century old. My right little finger is slightly bent; that is because the weight of my hand always rested on it as I wrote, like a kangaroo leaning back on its tail. There is a tired spirit deep inside of me that still continues its gourmet’s quest for a better word, and then for a better one still.

~ Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), shortly before her death at the age of 81 from “Earthly Paradise: An Autobiography of Colette Drawn from Her Lifetime Writings”

Notes: Quotes: Brain Pickings. Portrait:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


And I realized, in this moment of revelation, that what these two men (Dr. Francis Robicsek and Roger Milliken) were revealing was the secret of their extraordinary success, each in his own right. And it lay precisely in that insatiable curiosity, that irrepressible desire to know, no matter what the subject, no matter what the cost, even at a time when the keepers of the Doomsday Clock are willing to bet even money that the human race won’t be around to imagine anything in the year 2100, a scant 93 years from now. “Live each day as if it is your last,” said Mahatma Gandhi. “Learn as if you’ll live forever.” This is what I’m passionate about. It is precisely this. It is this inextinguishable, undaunted appetite for learning and experience, no matter how risible, no matter how esoteric, no matter how seditious it might seem. This defines the imagined futures of our fellow Hungarians — Robicsek, Teszler and Bartok — as it does my own. As it does, I suspect, that of everybody here.

To which I need only add, “Ez a mi munkank; es nem is keves.” This is our task; we know it will be hard.“Ez a mi munkank; es nem is keves. Jó napot, pacák!” 

~ Ben DunlapThe Life-long Learner, TED Talk

Saturday Morning


Love, these lines
accompany our want, nameless
or otherwise, and our waiting.
And since we’ve not learned
how not to want,
we’ve had to learn,
by waiting, how to wait.

—Li-Young Lee, from “The Waiting” in The City In Which I Love You

Notes: Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Gif: Newthom

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Too often, convinced of our own intelligence, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding, until eventually it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song— which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

~ Ryan Holiday, excerpt from his new book “Ego is the Enemy” published June, 2016.




She’s 15.

The Magic of a Train

To the Editor:

Re “Our Trouble With Trains,” by Richard White (Op-Ed, May 19):

I love trains. I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and I ride the commuter train to and from my high school in the city every day. It’s been a year since I began taking the train; the charm hasn’t worn off yet.

There’s something magical about stepping onto the train — it transports you to a world where politeness is the norm. Talk in a lowered voice to avoid disturbing other passengers. Move your bags if someone needs to sit down next to you. Hold the door for the people walking behind you. The knowledge that choosing the train over a car helps the environment brings an extra rush of pleasure.

I adore this microcosm of etiquette and patience, and I feel that if more people experienced the satisfaction of a good train ride, they would be more willing to invest in passenger trains. Fixing our railroad system does not require us to suddenly leap to the level of the high-speed, luxurious trains in Europe and Japan; it could start with small improvements to the commuter trains that people take every day.

~ ALIA ABIAD, 15, St. Ignatius College Prep, 9th grade in Western Springs, Ill.

On May 15th, The New York Times announced An Invitation to High School Students, introducing a letter-writing competition where students were invited to submit a letter to the editor in response to a news article, editorial, column or Op-Ed essay in The Times.

Check out the other winners’ submissions here: The Voices of Students: The Winners Are…

Riding Metro-North S/N. With Crawford.

Amtrak Cascades train 509 races through Vader, WA.

The Show plays same time daily. Pre-dawn in a tight band around 4:30 am.
Zeke‘s bred to hunt birds. His Dad, to wake free of alarms.
I peek out from under the covers, and voila.
6 hours of intermittent shut-eye, and the florescent digits blaze 4:38 am.
The red spark plugs ignite the engine.
I calculate the odds of catching the 5:01 am.
22 minutes to shower, shave, dress, cover 1/4 mile and buy ticket.
Too tight. Next train: 5:40 am.

*  *   *

I make the 5:40.

I finish skimming the morning e-papers.

I move to Matthew Crawford’s new book: The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction.  After an engaging introduction, I catch myself jumping words, then sentences and whole paragraphs. I’m skipping a torrent of multi-syllabic words. I’m not understanding much of it — it’s washing over me like dirty runoff. I’m hoping something sticks. Nothing does. [Read more…]

Reading. Writing.

reading, poor,education

“A girl writes in a notebook she collected from a garbage dump in Lahore, Pakistan. Thousands of children pick recyclable items from waste dumping points to earn a living for their families.”

K.M. Chaudary, Associated Press. Photos of the Day, April 1, 2015


As brightness, into brightness


You can learn only from
moving forward at the rate
you are moved,
as brightness, into brightness

— Sarah Manguso, Two Kinds of Decay

Credits: Photograph – Brown Dress with White Dots. Quote – Mythology of Blue

Riding Metro-North. With our Kids.


It’s 5:25 am.
A dark, windless morning.
14° F.
I’m stepping quickly in my 1/2 mile walk to the station.
Suit. Top Coat. Gloves. Black lace-ups. No boots.
Fear of: Black ice + Tumble = Face plant.
My right ear is tingling.
A dandy frost bite when I was 11. No hat. No matter how long ago, acts of stupidity are never far from consciousness.

I glance at my watch. It’s tight. I step up my pace.
Way (WAY) short on sleep. Mood: heavy. Dark.
There will be retribution for the arranger of the 7 a.m. meeting in the City. Matthew 5:38: Eye for an Eye. DK 1:29:2015: Arm, Leg and Eye for an Eye.

There are days when you need to read with paper in your hands. With something real touching your fingers. Yet, I’m conscious of being the only one in a packed train car crinkling a newspaper, shattering the silence of fingers swiping digital pads. The commuter next to me is asleep. I work on folding the morning paper.

It’s maddening that I’ve never been able to hold and fold a newspaper like many commuters. I can’t roll my tongue. I can’t wiggle my ears. The genius who set up this 7 am meeting is going to feel the cold chill of the Juno aftermath.

I pan through the front section and my eyes lock on 4 lines. I have no expertise in this area. Zero fundamental knowledge. But I know what I see. I know what I feel. We’re in trouble.  [Read more…]

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