The second half of life is a third. It arrives already shattered and goes by like a spell. Compared to the eternity that teen years seem to feel, or the accelerated learning curve lived up to the 30s, the last quadrant is mute and serene, like a trip to another galaxy. Everything reflects the light of long ago, but there’s no sound in the outer space of advanced age; even the most cheering applause is silenced. The traveler reaches the void looking back; a last minute sorting through spinning memories, before darkness falls. All that one needs to know is learned early in life. And readily forgotten for the next few decades. So growing old is revisiting childhood, as some put it, making a bit more sense of what’s going on inside, but like then, just as clueless about everything else.
Some of us perceive ourselves as children till we catch a mirror staring back. That smooth layer has been ravaged, the mouth, twisted down in the corners, and the eye twinkle is long gone. But apart from such shocking self-checking, we’re still here.
On the edge of maturity, it counts to have mastered a few things. But accomplishing anything comes clouded by wrong turns and missed
opportunities. All is clear now, understood, and absolutely irrelevant. Still there’s pride in learning a new way to tie shoelaces. Perfect, if it wasn’t for the back pain bending to actually tie them.
As I approach the other margin still gasping for air, I’m still puzzled about how little I know. Was it a choice I’ve made, not to veer towards the upper echelon? Or have I fussed and fought only to come up short of whatever was that I was searching for?
The third slice of a life, staled and musty, is reserved for those who lasted and endured, not those who crafted a legend out of their days. Like a bitter brew, it soothes the gut and vanquishes the last sweet taste, left by cakes and pastries baked in youth.
Some go like shooting stars, but the majority succumbs in quiet desperation. Some go before they even come; others overstay their welcome. We live our ways unaware of our moment of departure. Here’s to when it comes, it won’t make me beg too much to stay.
When the End (of Summer) Is All But Nigh, Improvise!
The sinking feeling is happening more often now. As soon as August hits, while some press on to finish the prep work for a memorable vacation, the rest of us is left to deal with the possibility, ever more concrete, that we’re not going anywhere. Now, now, cheer up, though. Think how you’ll be spared of crowded airports, cesspool-suffused hotel rooms, displays of raw rage, from fellow flyers and underpaid airline staff, and those walks by the water’s edge start to feel pretty satisfying. Go ahead, have another sip of your lemon-wedged iced water.
Considering just such a possibility – and we’re not saying that you’re definitely out of luck – we raided our files for some encouraging season-appropriate stories. You know, to go along with the exquisite shots you took at the neighbor’s B-B-Q, or the sunset at the local park.
So here are three posts and a travelogue. They’re chockfull of tips for the weary tripper; unusual (and cheap) destinations; dos and don’ts for a seasonal pro such as yourself; and a few commute shots to help you prove to everyone how overrated vacations really are. To take time off is a state of mind, a magical space you pry open and occupy free of thoughts, to reach deep relaxation and strength, and renew every fiber of your being. There’s no need to go anywhere. Not really, but we thought it’d be nice to end this post on that kind of note. POSTS ABOUT DOING WHAT YOU CAN * Checking In * Skim Vacations * No Way Vacay * Train of Moths
Nobody Told Us That There Would Be Days Like These
Four years for now, some of us will complete the four decades that separate us from John Lennon’s last birthday, on Oct. 9, 1980. His life had been so intense up to that day, that the same length of time following it seem now warped and much emptier in comparison. In his last two months, the man was full of hope, ready for a comeback that’d be only partially realized. Whether his best work was really behind him there’s no way of knowing, but since then, we’ve been badly missing whatever was that only he could’ve delivered.
And he has indeed given us plenty, enough to keep us busy going over it even now, so many years later. Just like a post we’ve published four years ago, about a particular moment in 1967, that wouldn’t have had such an imprint on all of us hadn’t been for him.
Like another way of marking a date that still holds us under its spell. Even without knowing that the next two months were his final countdown, John lived his life with the intensity that only those who know they’ve got just this one chance to do it, really do it.
He’d have been 76, this time around. Instead, he’ll never age a day older than 40. Amazing to learn that many born since then consider him a friend, and his songs, a guide to live intensely and grow wiser. Happy Birthday, John. Thanks for everything.
Edgar Allan Poe (d. Oct. 7, 1849, Boston) and John Lennon (b. Oct.9, 1940, Liverpool) would’ve likely enjoyed each other’s company. One could even picture them sharing a coffee in Greenwich Village, just a few blocks from where they both lived briefly in New York. Sharing a certain sensibility, they’ve twisted rules and noses with their talent and non-conformism. While Poe’s genius was acknowledged mostly after death, Lennon’s was still shaping his own times when life was brutally taken away from him. Despite their enormous sway over our era, they’ve both died at 40.
Their status as two of the world’s most recognized pop icons often obscures the depth of their art and endurance of their legacy. And maybe their irresistible appeal owes more to a contemporary deficit of revolutionary artists than to their particular take on human expression.
Or it may be that we’re so desperate to find paradigms upon which to pile our frustration about the world, that a walking wound such as Poe, or a talking head like Lennon, may offer the conduit we seek to connect and placate our own shortcomings. Just like it ever was.
They couldn’t help it but being such tragic heroes, either, with terrible upbringings and disturbing deaths to boot. But that’s when shallow similarities between the two begin to falter, and no longer serve us to rescue their relevance out of the amber it’s been encased. THE MESMERIC & THE MAUDIT
Poe, who lived in three separate places in Greenwich Village, New York City, before moving to a farmhouse uptown where he wrote The Raven at age 36, is the only American writer routinely mentioned along the French poètes maudits.
The Paul Verlaine-concocted term encapsulated the romantic ideal of the artist as a tragic hero, not suited to this world, who inevitably self-immolates. We won’t get into how flawed and self-indulgent it is such notion, but the literature the group produced transcended it all.
Perhaps the best known among those poets was Charles Baudelaire, who championed, translated and wrote essays about Poe, (more) _______ Read Also: * Murder & Unkindness * Hallowed Ground Continue reading →
The Conversation About Race & Police Brutality Has Started
Thousands of protesters took New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, and other major U.S. cities to demand a stop in the all too apparent racist tinge by which law enforcement agents have been consistently targeting black youth in this country. Americans seem to have finally reached a break point this week, after two white cops, who killed two unarmed black young men, Michael Brown, of Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, of New York’s Staten Island, will not be indicted for their acts.
Acknowledging the growing, widespread mistrust on police departments everywhere, the Justice Department has ordered a review of both cases, but haven’t been able, so far, to dispel the public perception that it’s already behind the curve.
While both cases share similarities aside their obvious racial overtones, there are also glaring differences between them. While witnesses may have offered diverse accounts of how Brown was shot, the fatal chokehold that asphyxiated Garner was captured on video.
Their deaths come at the tail of a long, disturbing string of police killings of unarmed black teenagers, that predates Garner‘s death on July 17, and includes the seven who were killed since August 9, when Brown was shot. To dare saying that this is not about race is just downright absurd.
Obviously, other factors should be also taken into account, from an unprepared and ill trained police force, to an increasing contingent of dispossessed and impoverish minorities in the U.S. Yes, income inequality is a big element underlining these tragedies.
But there’s also a need for a real hard, honest, and open-minded look at race relations in America, circa 2014, which is resembling every day more like the 1960s. We could as well take a page from that book on Civil Rights and check how much that we take for granted, we’ve actually forgotten.
Americans may have finally awaken to the shame of living in the richest country in the world while it’s being turned into a playground for the very wealthy, and a holocaust for those at the bottom, with the shrinking middle class Continue reading →
New Yorkers Sleep Where They Spend a Lot of Time: the Subway
It‘s quite possible that you’ve been ignoring for years one of the best advices you mother ever gave you: never fall sleep on a New York subway train. Now, as if to take your Mom to task, New York-Presbyterian Hospital Dr. Carl Bazil decided to actually see whether such naps are worth your trouble, and the risk of getting mugged while you’re at it.
As most tired New Yorkers know, a person goes through five sleeping stages a night, but on the subway, chances are your stop will come before you get too far down the list.
Riders do try it and often, though. Just take a look around and you’ll see at least one person, but usually more than that, closing their eyes between stations. Whether they really get some sleep is what the good doctor has tried to find out. WIRING THE SLEEPY RIDER
For that, the director of the Epilepsy and Sleep Division at the hospital’s Columbia University Medical Center wired a volunteer to Continue reading →
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Few quotes, such as the one often attributed to George Orwell, could’ve been better tailored to express what the Occupy Wall Street movement is going through right now. Whether he said it or not is irrelevant. But it does frame with accuracy and flair, the political risks and personal cost for those talking straight to power.
Last night’s raid of the Ground Zero of the movement that has since spread out globally, ordered by the Mayor of New York City and executed by the NYPD, only reinforced the old concept of history repeating itself, except that without the benefit of the farce.
The violent invasion of the Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, was, of course, no theatrical laughing matter. On the contrary, despite not having been so far as harsh or even lethal as elsewhere in the country, it was scary enough to remind everyone of infamous assault on the Bonus Army veterans camped at the Capitol lawn in 1932. Continue reading →