12 August 2007
Think of the exhilaration of the quadriplegic who has recovered command of his limbs; the joy of the blind receiving the gift of sight; of the aphasic who painstakingly re-learns the command of language.
(Think of the excitement in learning every day which you experienced as a young child.)
Must we suffer sensory deprivation in order to experience the wonders of our touch or the music of nature? Is it only after temporary disability that we can know the full joy of the dance?
I hope not. We can culture gratitude as a a prayer or meditation. We can take time to notice how it feels to frolic in the water. We can appreciate the poetry in the words that seem to spring effortlessly into our mouths. We can remind ourselves frequently of the sensual pleasures to which we are treated in everyday life.
For stronger medicine, we might play games with our abilities: Navigate around town in a wheelchair for a day; go through a day (or an hour!) with closed eyes; forgo your favorite foods or favorite activities for a time, until you remember how you treasure them.
– Josh Mitteldorf
11 August 2007
I burned my life, that I might find
With mounting beat the utter fire
Louise Bogan, born this day in 1897
10 August 2007
from the New York Times Letters page
To the Editor:
I am only 70 years old, but I certainly understand what Atul Gawande describes. I, too, have been through old-age crisis and believe that I have been lucky enough to have come out the other side.
My major decision was to take on a task that I could never complete no matter how long I lived and to fade into the night still working at it. I decided to take up Chinese landscape painting and found myself in a beginner’s class of 6- and 7-year-olds.
The children’s boldness, creativity and energy were infectious, and I found myself going from a fearful and slightly depressed elder to an energetic painter embarking on a task that I couldn’t possibly complete in a lifetime.
I recommend that older folk look toward impossible challenges at the end of their lives. You don't need to tie everything up before you go. Try to do something difficult and essentially incompletable, and when you die, the unfinished nature of your challenge will be a mark that you've been here and still in the midst of living even at the very end of life.
9 August 2007
“The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers”
You and I were raised in
schools that fall short of Piaget’s ideal, but we hold out his vision as an
ideal for our children and our children’s children.
8 August 2007
7 August 2007
How were the Polynesian islands populated? and where did they get the technology to erect the giant Easter Island monoliths?
Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in the south Pacific in Pre-Columbian times. His built a balsa raft and sailed it westward from Peru to demonstrate, by using only the materials and technologies available to them at the time, that there were no technical reasons to prevent them from having done so.
Kon-Tiki was the raft used by
Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition. It was named after the Inca sun god,
Viracocha, for whom ‘Kon-Tiki’ was said to be an old name. Kon-Tiki is also
the name of the popular book that Heyerdahl wrote about his adventures.
6 August 2007
The long day wanes; the slow
moon climbs; the deep