August 9, 2015

Cleaning out my box o' stuff. Part 1.

That is,  my box of posts waiting to be polished and posted. I'm posting one a day this week to clean out the box.

This recent Brainpickings post is such a lovely post and a sample of how Maria Popova on this amazing site melds together books, quotes, articles, and images topically and gracefully.

In her most recent post, she reminded us of an out-of-print book, Letters from Amelia, in which Amelia, who, before marrying Albert outlined her expectations of marriage (which included not adopting the last name of her husband), advised her sister Muriel, whose own otherwise decent husband was gambling away the family funds. Amelia and her sister grew up in a financially strained household under an alcoholic father; both as a child and adult, Amelia felt it her responsibility to guide and assist her younger sister.

Maria makes the point that through these letters, one observes that Amelia was quite thoughtful, independent, and philosophical at an early age. She has liberal views on education, human nature, and relationships.

To demonstrate Maria's ability to artistically blend resources, she moves to Anne Lamott, who she is reminded of in reading Amelia's writings decades earlier.  Maria links  us to an earlier BP review of Lamott's book on grief, passages, and the difficult times in our lives we must occasionally face. Although the topics are often difficult ones - grief and sadness - there is an uplifting spirit in her message.

"The worst possible thing you can do when you’re down in the dumps, tweaking, vaporous with victimized self-righteousness, or bored, is to take a walk with dying friends. They will ruin everything for you. ...
...They ruin your multitasking high, the bath of agitation, rumination, and judgment you wallow in...they bust you by being grateful for the day, while you are obsessed with how thin your lashes have become and how wide your bottom."

Here are some other quotes in the varied references of this post that resonated with me:

"but you know the more one does the more one can do...Despite my unusual activity I am very well organized to do more the more I do. You know what I mean. … I am not overdoing and all that is needed to bouncing health is plenty to eat and happiness. Consider me bursting, please." (Earhardt) 

"I felt a moment’s panic at the thought of Barbara’s impending death, and maybe also my own. We are all going to die! That’s just so awful. I didn’t agree to this. How do we live in the face of this? Left foot, right foot, push the walker forward." (Lamott)

And if you should find that you are the first woman to feel an urge in that direction, what does it matter? Feel it and act on it just the same. It may turn out to be fun. And to me fun is the indispensable part of work. (Earnhardt in her memoir The Fun of It: Random Records of My Own Flying and of Women in Aviation.)

It’s called having friends, choosing each other, getting found, being fished out of the rubble. It blows you away, how this wonderful event ever happened — me in your life, you in mine. (Lamott)

The two nonnegotiable rules are that you must not wear patchouli oil — we’ll still love you, but we won’t want to sit with you — and that the only excuse for bringing your cell phone to the dinner table is if you’re eagerly waiting to hear that they’ve procured an organ for your impending transplant.  (Lamott) 

Amelia Earhart was clear as glass and cloudy as milk at the same time, and she was marked for greatness. She rarely failed either in public or in private to live up to what she demanded of herself. She would not compromise with integrity, she did not quail before danger, and she brought honor by word and deed to her sex, her country, her kin, and herself. (Jean L. Backus, editor of Letters from Amelia, on Amelia Earhardt. )

"What if you wake up some day, and you're 65...and you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life?"

And to further illustrate my point that Maria Popova is a master of compiling and flowing interesting and relevant resources, I quote the last part of her Lamott post: 

"Small Victories is an enormously ennobling read in its entirety. Complement it with Lamott on how to handle those who refuse to welcome us, then revisit Aristotle on the art of human connection, Andrew Sullivan on why friendship is a greater gift than erotic love, and C.S. Lewis on true friendship."

Once again, I encourage you to put on your list of sites to visit regularly. Sign up for her weekly newsletter and donate a few dollars to keep it healthy and ongoing. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the richest sites on the aptly named worldwide web. 


Marylinn Kelly said...

I am a HUGE fan of Maria Popova, I even cancelled membership in an art group so the funds could go to Maria instead. So worthy. The threads she pulls together, as you point out, lead us in at least 5 directions. I have purchased more used books from Amazon on the strength of her mention than I can say. And Literary Jukebox - genius. What a brilliant and hard-working woman, making our lives and the world so much richer. xo

Diane Moline said...

Marylinn, you said it so well. That she isn't more well-known is a mystery to me. I would love to see the mind map of her mind. I agree with Literary Jukebox and am in awe that she pulled it all together. Maybe between you and me, we can build up her fan base and bank account. I'm certain my readers may be tiring of my references to Brainpickings cut she knocks me out every week!

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