10 December 2006
Some say that we should never reveal all, that a little mystery deepens our relationships. I respond that there is no shortage of mystery in our relationships, but often there is a want of understanding.
If you’re wondering whether to write that letter, send that message, initiate that conversation – here’s a guideline:
Expressions of anger can wait until you cool down and gain perspective. Expressions of dissatisfaction, or requests for someone to change a behavior are subject to three days’ introspection: is this a situation that you can resolve by demanding growth of yourself? Requests for change of a personality trait or personal value seldom have the desired effect.
If you have the upper hand or the leader’s role in a relationship, then be circumspect in your criticism. If speaking to someone who holds more authority over you than you have over him, then be bold and assertive.
If it reveals a part of yourself about which you are embarrassed, then say it now. If it is a request for forgiveness, then ask without hesitation. If it makes you feel naked and vulnerable, it will only draw you closer to your friend, and hasten the resolution of an uncomfortable situation.
– Josh Mitteldorf
9 December 2006
When I consider how my light is spent
Milton, born this day in 1608, conceived and planned epic
tomes entirely in his memory, and dictated his most famous works after
he lost his sight to glaucoma. He became history’s second blind
master of epic poetry.
8 December 2006
The music of Jean Sibelius is deeply personal. He composes what he is feeling, unconcerned about who might be listening. Sometimes when I listen, I have the feeling of being in his living room, being allowed in to his private thoughts.
Listen to the opening of the 6th Symphony
“Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been put up to a critic.”
7 December 2006
“I believe that the day is not far off when we will be able to prescribe drugs that cause severed spinal cords to heal, hearts to regenerate and lost limbs to regrow. People will come to expect that injured or diseased organs are meant to be repaired from within, in much the same way that we fix an appliance or automobile: by replacing the damaged part with a manufacturer-certified new part. Advances in heart regeneration are around the corner, digits will be regrown within five to ten years, and limb regeneration will occur a few years later. Central nervous system repair will occur first with the retina and optic nerve and later with the spinal cord. Within 50 years whole-body replacement will be routine.”
6 December 2006
“Because he has surrendered himself to it,
‘united’ with it, the patriot knows his country, the artist knows the subject of his art, the lover his beloved, the saint his God, in a manner which is inconceivable as well as unattainable by the looker-on.
“Because mystery is horrible to us, we have agreed for the most part to live in a world of labels; to make of them the current coin of experience, and ignore their merely symbolic character, the infinite gradation of values which they misrepresent. We simply do not attempt to unite with Reality.
~ from The Practical Mystic, by Evelyn Underhill
is simply reality seen with the eyes of love.”
5 December 2006
“Make no mistake about it. The decision to live one’s life based on a model of fulfillment, personal values and preferences is a RADICAL ACT. We have been taught from an early age to be successful, practical, pragmatic and accomplished. We have learned to follow the thinking of our heads rather than our heart’s desires. We have been relentlessly trained to operate inside the box of what we know we can accomplish, rather than risking uncharted territory of what we truly want. Pursuing a path of fulfillment means rocking the boat…sometimes rocking it very hard. To go against and outside of this training requires fierce creativity, an un-dauntability and steadfastness that is paradoxically both rare and smoldering in the heart of every human.”
4 December 2006
It was 1747, toward the end of Bach’s life, when his son Carl Phillip Emanuel arranged for an invitation to the court of King Frederick of Prussia. Frederick was a floutist and composer, a lover of musical distraction, a warrior and a statesman. Bach’s reputation had preceded him. The king put before Bach a theme of his own devising –awkward and richly chromatic – to see what Bach could do with it. Some themes are more amenable to counterpoint than others, and this one is so fiendishly difficult that it is easy to imagine this was a trick on the part of the King. Contemporary news reports that Bach improvised on the keyboard, creating a 3-part fugue on the spot.
Two weeks later, Bach delivered to the King a suite of fugues and canons, including a trio sonata complete, all based on this one theme, consummately crafted in the contrapuntal style which he had perfected. Some of the pieces were so tightly-constructed that Bach only specified a single line (a variant of the King’s theme), and then indicated how many other players would play the same line, leaving to the King the task of figuring out where to start each one, and in which key.
Accompanying the manuscript was an inscription in Bach’s hand, dripping with sarcasm, in which he pretended he had done nothing, and that all the talent was Frederick’s. “Sire, with utmost submission, I take the liberty of presenting you with this Musical Offering whose noblest part is of Your Majesty’s very hand...”