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Always read the alumni magazine. Yours. Your parents’. The one left in the dentist office waiting room. I even read a neighbor’s that was mistakenly delivered to our mailbox before passing it along.Read More
in case you haven’t read The Goldfinch, the 2013 novel that won the Pulitzer the following year and spent months on The New York Times Best Seller list, i understand. i only recently plowed through its 784 pages.
and while i didn’t always enjoy it, thanks to its questionable morals, Dickensian-levels of misfortune, and loads of recreational drug use, it was a gripping tale of sin and redemption i nonetheless looked forward to reading each night. below are some of my favorite quotes.
“…where does it ever say, anywhere, that only bad can come from bad actions? Maybe sometimes—the wrong way is the right way? You can take the wrong path and it still comes out where you want to be? Or, spin it another way, sometimes you can do everything wrong and it still turns out to be right?”
in short, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. you have no idea what’s next or how things will turn out in the end. two personal examples spring to mind. how my grandmother’s terrifying fall and broken bones led to a closer relationship with her, and how a stranger hitting my parked car led to a new laptop, way better than a flawless bumper.
"...you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.”
exactly! we love art because we’re under the adorable, improbable illusion that the work is speaking exclusively to us. this enhances our connection to ourselves, letting us strike up an inner dialogue. or, as it's said in The Goldfinch, "Whatever teaches us to talk to ourselves is important."
the sentiments continue spiraling outward, to our links with other people, and finally, unity with the world as a whole.
last of all is perhaps my favorite extract, about dealing with the less desirable parts of life. because although we all know how the story ends, that none of us will get out alive, there’s a way to live with grace.
"...maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open."
do you read fiction? any recommendations? i recently got back into it after years of almost all real stuff.
one night last spring i was walking to my car after yoga when a guy behind me yelled, “that was my first car!” blissed out from practice i turned around and saw he was looking at me while gesturing toward my black, two-door, VW Golf. “ohhhhhh,” i said, mentally gearing up for small talk.
“i love that car!” he continued. i was about to reply, “everybody does” (once a guy walked me to it at the end of an unfortunate date and commented, “oh yeah, you’ll definitely get laid driving this”) but i was too late.
he rattled off his story—first car, 1999, lived in Boston (where i thought people survive fine without cars), roll-up windows, cassette deck, no sunroof, still his favorite car—and i just stood there, unable to get a word in edgewise.
then he turned and walked away. i was dumbfounded as i watched him walk across the parking lot to his BMW. it wasn’t a conversation at all, really, just a stream of consciousness outpouring from a stranger in a parking lot after yoga class in west LA. a cardboard cutout of me would have sufficed.
sometimes that’s as good as conversations get in La La Land. but i wasn’t offended. since i didn’t need anything from him, i saw this conversational taker objectively.
i didn’t have an urge to put him in a headlock and say, “great story, bro. now listen to my automotive autobiography.”
if you come at people on the attack, overpowering and squeezing out others, i want nothing to do with you. say what’s so important and be on your way.
as Maya Angelou said, “when someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”