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Featured Commentary

BY August 14, 2017

A reflection acknowledging that the injustice of suffering can’t be wrapped up in a neat bow of closure. Instead, we the author looks to her culture’s understanding of ancestry — in the responsibility we have to the loved ones we’ve lost.

On the Blog

Woman in a fishbowl
BY August 5, 2017

From a Hmong writer’s encouragement to Oprah’s advice on how to say no, our editor-in-chief serves up his favorite commentaries on grief and loss, intergenerational relationships, solitude in faith, judging the poor, and apologies.

BY August 3, 2017

In her cohousing community in Oakland, our columnist is experiencing something all-too-rare: deep friendships across generations. What if we turned more actively to the wisdom — and plain old good company — of our neighbors, older and younger?

BY August 2, 2017

The value of solitude isn’t simply in retreating from a chaotic world. It’s a discipline that’s different for all of us — and one that we can practice wherever we are.

A boy walks through a waterfall on July 25, 2016 while playing in the water at The Yards Park in Washington, DC, as a heat wave rolls across the area.
BY August 1, 2017

We can’t take wilderness retreats every time we feel caught up in the world’s madness, but a poem can be a momentary reprieve.

BY August 1, 2017

A NASA climate scientist wrestles with the story of the ocean’s “long slong to equilibrium,” the ease of modern life, and the whispers that continue after we’re gone.

Waves break off Sunset Beach, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
BY July 29, 2017

From remembering police captain and dharma teacher Cheri Maples to soliciting perspectives on solitude and being alone, our editor in chief’s list of the week’s most compelling commentaries on motherhood, solitude, eldering, male vulnerability, and exile.

Hands reaching into the abyss. Photo by Cristian Newman.
BY July 28, 2017

A tender, empathetic, and honest letter to an unknown friend about the anguish of grief — through a story of young love, the loss of a child, and the realization that pain marks an opening to a future where new life can take root.

BY July 27, 2017

Our columnist gets honest about missing true solitude as a mother of young girls, and reflects on how crucial it is for women to carve out space to nurture no one but themselves.

BY July 26, 2017

An ode to a sentence from the legendary poet on recognizing and honoring the sacrifices of generations past to get us where we are — and on “paying it forward” as the best way to pay them back.

Photo of waterfalls by Jack Smoter.
BY July 25, 2017

A poem on letting go of our “known way of being” and discovering the wisdom of letting things unfold around us.

(L to R) Marcelle Hoff, Michael Kirby and Shireen Malamoo are overcome with emotion as they watch Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a large screen deliver an historic apology to Aboriginal people for injustices committed over two centuries of white settlement, at The Block Aboriginal community in Sydney on February 13, 2008. Of the million indigenous people who are believed to have lived throughout the country before white settlement began in 1788, there are only about 470,000 Aborigines left, just over two percent of Australia's population of 21 million. AFP PHOTO/Torsten BLACKWOOD (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
BY July 24, 2017

Can nations apologize for harm they’ve caused? A human rights scholar delves into the philosophical quandary of collective atonement.

BY July 22, 2017

What’s your three feet of influence? Rumi’s renewed appeal thanks to Bey & Jay. Breaking open one’s heart. Happiness as human flourishing and more ideas from our editor-in-chief.

The author at her family's Beijing home (from L-R, host grandmother, sister, Solimine, father, and mother) during Mid-Autumn Festival, 1996.
BY July 21, 2017

Through the intimacy of chosen mother-daughterhood, a woman navigates the fraught territory of craving Chinese identity as a white American — and recognizes that some identities cannot be earned or learned, but are gifts passed on.

BY July 20, 2017

After reading Hanya Yanagihara’s novel “A Little Life,” our columnist grapples with the reality of suffering that doesn’t make us stronger.

Orüç Güvenç performs.
BY July 19, 2017

Learning of the great ethnomusicologist’s death, our columnist offers an “ocean of remembrance” in return for the Turkish Sufi master who embodied the poetry of Islam in both his music and his being.

John Thompson, a friend and former colleague of Philando Castile, is embraced after speaking on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol building on June 16, 2017 in St Paul, Minnesota.
BY July 18, 2017

A poem from Gregory Orr on the silver lining of a heart shattered open: the knowledge that our broken places are where beauty comes from.

BY July 17, 2017

A woman finds the gift of stories to ground us and give shape to our suffering — by teaching creative writing to in-patient adolescents on the psychiatry floor of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

BY July 15, 2017

Be the first to try out our new On Being discovery tool for exploring hundreds of conversations in our archives! And, excellent writings on privilege, solitude, and productivity to accompany your listening.

BY July 14, 2017

To make the world a better place is an intimidating challenge. But what if we focused on our immediate surroundings?

BY July 13, 2017

Can being lost be productive? Our columnist on lingering in the mystery of our purpose — and surrendering to the paths that choose us.

Three women at a cafe in Le Marais.
BY July 12, 2017

We can communicate with almost anybody at any moment and all the time. But are we losing our capacity to be alone, and therefore our ability to think anew? Rediscovering this ability just may be pivotal to the health of democracy.

BY July 11, 2017

An antidote from Margaret Atwood for the hubris that leads us to claim ownership over the living lands that nourish us.

BY July 8, 2017

Our Letter from Loring Park opens our application process for the inaugural On Being Gathering. And, articles on the complexities of family and love, giving up on the myth of perfection, grappling with inherited prejudice and being recognized for who we are, and on a revolution that starts within.

BY July 7, 2017

Rather than focusing on what’s beyond the limits of ordinary experience, we might be better served focusing on what’s within.

BY July 7, 2017

In a turning cultural tide, non-religious Millennials and the Christian church find themselves at odds. But do they have to be?