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  • gretchenrubin 19:01:53 on 2018/01/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , quote,   

    Agree: Even One Task Fulfilled at Regular Intervals…Can Bring Order into Life as a Whole. 

    "Even one task fulfilled at regular intervals in a man's life can bring order into his life as a whole; everything else hinges upon it. By keeping a record of my experiences I live my life twice over. The past returns to me. The future is always with me."

    -- The Journal of Eugene Delacroix

    Agree, disagree?

    How I love this book!

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:38:24 on 2017/12/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , quote,   

    Beautiful Color! Coral and Apple-Green and Lavender and Faint Orange, and Indian Blue. 

    From F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby:

    Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.

    “I’ve got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall.”

    He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.

    “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”

    As soon as I started writing about color, I looked up this passage from The Great Gatsby. It's one of my favorite passages about color.

    The question, of course, is -- why is Daisy crying?

    If you know any other beautiful passages describing color, please let me know. Color obsession continues!

     
  • gretchenrubin 13:15:01 on 2017/12/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , Edna St. Vincent Millay, , quote   

    Ever Get the Feeling that You Just Can’t Contain the Beauty of the World? 

    O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
       Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
       Thy mists, that roll and rise!
    Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
    And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
    To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
    World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
    Long have I known a glory in it all,
             But never knew I this;
             Here such a passion is
    As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
    Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
    My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
    No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
    -- Edna St. Vincent Millay, "God's World"
     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:52 on 2017/11/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , , quote,   

    As You’ve Grown Older, Have You Become More Willing to Consider a Person “Good?” 

    “As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.”

    --Samuel Johnson, quoted in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

    As you've grown older, and had more experience of the world, do you think you are more or less likely to consider a person to be "good?" Do you expect more, or less, of people?

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:47 on 2017/11/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , quote, Scarlett Thomas   

    Which Do You Prefer? “Simple Beauty with No Explanation, or Knowing Exactly How and Why?” 

    'You know, I haven't been able to look at flowers the same way since I learnt about the Fibonacci sequence,' Violet says, stroking the pink daisies with her thin white hand as we walk along the wall. 'I don't know which is better: simple beauty with no explanation, or knowing exactly how and why seed pods are organized.'

    --Scarlett Thomas, PopCo

    This comment reminded me of the conversation Elizabeth and I had on episode 105 of the "Happier" podcast, about the question of "Do you prefer childlike wonder or adultlike wonder?"

    Which do you prefer? I prefer adultlike wonder, myself. The more I know about something, the more I enjoy and appreciate it.

    How I love the novels of Scarlett Thomas! I'm working my way through everything she's written. I can't recommend her work highly enough. It's thrilling to discover a new author.

     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:13 on 2017/11/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , quote, , William Wordsworth   

    Fill in the Blank: “The Best Portion of a Good Man’s Life” Is His _______. 

    Wordsworth describes his response to remembering beautiful country landscapes when he's in towns and cities:
    ...[O]ft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
    Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
    In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
    Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
    And passing even into my purer mind
    With tranquil restoration:--feelings too
    Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
    As have no slight or trivial influence
    On that best portion of a good man's life,
    His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
    Of kindness and love."
    --William Wordsworth, "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798"
    Funny, it's only now that I'm realizing the aptness of "Wordworth's" name. His words are truly worthy! How have I never noticed that before?
    Wordsworth's reflections on this landscape remind me of my resolution to "Find an area of refuge" -- that is, to find a few phrases or memories or scenes that fill me with peace, or exaltation, or good humor. That way, when I find myself spiraling down into boredom, anger, or sorrow, I have an area of refuge. And by doing so, I may make it easier to perform little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.
    Do you have a memory like this?
     
  • gretchenrubin 14:00:53 on 2017/11/04 Permalink
    Tags: , Chuck Palahniuk, , , quote,   

    Agree? “Not Everybody Is Looking for an Easy, Fun Job.” 

    Chuck Palahniuk wrote a piece about life on a Navy submarine. As he was leaving the sub, an officer asked him to write a good piece; fewer and fewer people saw the value in the kind of service he valued most. Palahniuk writes:

    I saw the value. I admire those people and the job they do.

    But by hiding the hardships they endure, it seems the Navy cheats these men out of the greater part of their glory. By trying to make the job seem fun and no-big-deal, the Navy may be repelling the people who want this kind of challenge.

    Not everybody is looking for an easy, fun job.

    Chuck Palahniuk, “The People Can,” Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories

    I'm haunted by this last line. I agree: I suspect that sometimes, when we try to convince people to undertake a certain job, activity, or aim as pleasant and fun (or even manageable), we might dissuade people who might otherwise be interested.

    Not everybody is looking for a fun, easy job.

    Agree, disagree? Can you think of examples about yourself or someone else, when a person was attracted to a difficult, arduous task?

     
  • gretchenrubin 10:00:16 on 2017/10/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , quote,   

    Agree? “That is Happiness; to Be Dissolved into Something Complete and Great.” 

    I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away. The light air about me told me that the world ended here: only the ground and sun and sky were left, and if one went a little farther there would be only sun and sky, and one would float off into them, like the tawny hawks which sailed over our heads making slow shadows on the grass. . . . I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.

    -- Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

    I love the work of Willa Cather, and I love O Pioneers! (Though I've never quite made up my mind about how I feel about the exclamation point. Interesting choice.)

    Almost a year ago, I read a different excerpt from O Pioneers! for that week's episode of "A Little Happier" -- another one of my favorite passages from the novel, about a wild duck. Actually, it may be one of my favorite passages ever. You can listen here.

     
  • gretchenrubin 10:00:19 on 2017/10/28 Permalink
    Tags: , dreams, Kermit, , , , quote, song   

    Ever Actually Listened to the Words of Kermit’s Song “Rainbow Connection?” I Never Had. 

    Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
    I've heard them calling my name.
    Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
    The voice might be one and the same.
    I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
    It's something that I'm supposed to be.
    Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

    --The song "Rainbow Connection" by Paul Williams, made famous by Kermit the Frog of the Muppets

    I've heard this song dozens of time, but I never really thought about the words.

    If you want to watch Kermit singing "Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie, it's here. In 1979, the song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.

    Do you pay attention to the meaning of lyrics? I realize that I almost never do.

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:48:54 on 2017/10/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , quote, recovery, , , tattoo   

    Would Your Authentic Self Get a Tattoo? 

    "Untreated substance abuse is often treated as 'cool' and as sort of a counterculture badge of honor, a way of proclaiming, 'Look out, dullards, I'm still dangerous.' Likewise, sobriety is sometimes looked at as a fertile ground for the has-been and those who may have lost their edge. I was always scared of losing mine, and so, with ninety days sober, I got a tattoo to show I was still all about it. However, one of the gifts of recovery is authenticity, finding your true self. Today I know that I don't care so much about being cool, much less edgy. I've seen too many good friends chase that image to the gates of prison, insanity or death. I still like my tattoo, but it means nothing to me now other than being a reminder that I've found my authentic self. And my authentic self is someone who wouldn't get a tattoo."

    --Rob Lowe, Love Life

    I have to say, I'm a huge fan of Rob Lowe's writing. He's very perceptive, and it's clear that being a super-famous Hollywood celebrity gives you a strange and interesting perspective on the world.

    Often, a tattoo does seem like something that is tied deeply to a sense of authenticity -- of revealing something important about ourselves, through our choice of design.

    Would your authentic self get a tattoo -- or do you already have one?

    If not, what design would you choose?

    If so, why did you choose the tattoo you chose?

     
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