Friday, October 4, 2013

listen, watch, read

It seems like every other conversation this week is about the government shutdown. When I logged into the New York Times website on Tuesday morning, the main scrolling photos featured services outside of the capitol that were impacted by the event. One showed a man standing outside the Liberty Bell, another of signs posted at Valley Forge state park turning visitors away. I heard one man on the radio talk about a trip to the Grand Canyon that had been 18 years in the making. He was waiting outside to see if he'd still get part of his vacation.

All of that makes me kinda sad and angry and like I want to scold those politicians for bickering with each other like children. I'm sure there are factors at play that I'm totally unaware of and probably unable to grasp, but still.

So, the bad news is that some of the beauty of our country is off limits for a little while and there are grown men (and women, I suppose?) acting like children. The good news is that there are still plenty of people doing wonderful and surprising things. So in case you got turned away from a museum or monument or park and are twiddling your thumbs or writing death notes to congress, here are a few alternatives for you.

1. listen
My favorite host on NPR's Morning Edition (a Lancaster, PA native!) interviewed a 12-year-old girl with some extraordinary musical talent. At the end of the interview, he gives her a scenario and she makes up a song for it. The tune comes to her so quickly, so naturally it's like a second language. She speaks in key strokes. It had me thinking about what second languages some others of us have - unique abilities that maybe aren't quite so lauded but are extraordinary nonetheless. Apparently it also had my nephew practicing extra hard for his first solo piano performance (he's in second grade).

2. watch
You may not consider comedians high culture, but watch this appearance by Louise C.K. He's onto something and I admire his honesty, and the way he can help us to listen to an uncomfortable truth through his humor. (I've also picked up my phone a lot less.)

3. read
And lastly, this quote from Isabel Wilkerson talking about her process of finding people with the stories that would eventually make up her book The Warmth of Other Suns. (What a great title, right?) I guess the reason it struck me as so beautiful is because I still try to outrun my mistakes, thinking I can somehow reverse them or make up for them. That's a lot of running. If any of you readers are distance runners, you know that the best part of the run is almost always that moment at the end when you can stop. That's what I imagine she's talking about here.
I wanted people who were beautifully imperfect. Perfection is not real, and readers cannot identify with people presented as perfect. I wanted to find people who were at peace with their mistakes and with the things they had done not particularly well. I wanted people who were willing to be who they really, truly were. Via here.

1 comment:

  1. Re: #2, yes! Watched it; so funny and true.
    Re: #1, just listened. Amazing.

    Have you read the book Where'd You Go, Bernadette? My high school friend recommended it when we moved here b/c the protagonist moves to Seattle from L.A. and has lots of Seattle-specific rants and critiques of the city. The author's style is wacky and I really enjoyed the book.