How Do We Nurture the Potentialities of Creating Our Own Lives? On Running, Motherhood, Sexuality, and The Treasures We All Hold Within

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 2:42 pm

How Do We Nurture the Potentialities of Creating Our Own Lives? On Running, Motherhood, Sexuality, and The Treasures We All Hold Within


Have you subscribed to our Letter from Loring Park? It’s a free, weekly newsletter offering a refuge for interestingness and reflection in an Internet land of distraction. Each Saturday morning, your will receive a rich digest of visual beauty, aspirational quotations, and links to some of our executive editor’s favorite articles. Try it out for a few weeks!


As you may have noticed, social media feeds were flooded with pictures and notes of love and admiration for our mothers last week. So, I’ll kick off this week’s Letter from Loring Park with a gritty reflection on Mother’s Day!

“This cult of motherhood reduces women to the function of motherhood. I wonder if we are honoring women as women, women as fully human, or if it reduces women to the functions of reproduction and child-rearing.”

Do we place women on an unrealistic pedestal when we celebrate Mother’s Day? Omid Safi on honoring motherhood in its fullest, most human sense, and moving to an ethics of care for all, whether family or fellow human beings.

(Amanda Tipton / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

I intentionally excerpted that quotation from Omid, as it intersects with Courtney Martin’s observations on pregnancy in a strangely resonant (contradictory?) way:

“Sure, we see pregnant women on the street. We register, cognitively, that their bellies are bulbous because they’ve got a baby growing in there. But how often do we, particularly those who aren’t in the midst of the experience, as I am, stop to consider just how wild that really is? How wild our universal origin really is? No matter how you feel about your mother, no matter what your relationship to her now, you were once inside of her abdomen. Mind sufficiently blown?”

Sex Talk for Muslim Women. Another fabulous commentary from Mona Eltahawy, a voice I greatly admire, on why she shares her experience of moving away from abstinence to sex positivity:

“We barely acknowledge the sexual straitjacket we force upon women. When it comes to women, especially Muslim women in the Middle East, the story seems to begin and end with the debate about the veil. Always the veil. As if we don’t exist unless it’s to express a position on the veil.”

Anne Rice signs books while Sarah Smarsh waits in line at a bookstore in Kansas.

The desire to write and to read isn’t always handed down, but a single encounter may be all it takes to propel one forward. Our newest columnist Sarah Smarsh recollects meeting novelist Anne Rice as a teenager in a Kansas bookstore — and finding possibility in encounter:

“Our familial origins propel us, of course, but so do other encounters: the teacher who took extra care, the neighbor who complimented a jump shot, the old woman who endowed a scholarship fund, the master who encouraged a novice… The deeper the need, perhaps, the more crucial the meeting.”

(Kent Kanouse / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“I come here to recover the past, but it escapes my grasp. It is like trying to hold water in my hand. I cannot prevent the passage of time any more than the lake and river can avoid their flow out to sea.”

As part of our occasional Murmurations series, Christine Cleary on the sweet tension of remembering and letting go.

Maria Popova speaks for Do Lectures USA.

Looking for a more bite-sized installment of On Being? Sign up for the Becoming Wise podcast. In her latest post, Krista talks to Maria Popova on mapping meaning in a digital age:

“So much of culture deals with what is urgent right now and not what is important in the grand scheme of things. And there is this sort of time bias or presentism bias that happens.”

(Rachel So / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

It appears that it will be Clinton versus Trump for the presidency of the United States. Parker Palmer proposes a Hippocratic oath for politicians, something he thinks of as good medicine for the body politic:

“To be human is to be imperfect — I should know! — so I’m glad to cut politicians at least as much slack as I cut myself. I do not withhold my respect or affection from those who truly aspire to authentic public service even when they fall short, as we all do, of the Hippocratic virtues. But I do withhold respect and affection (as well as my vote) from politicians who speak and act with arrogance and without empathy…”

Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Raouf, guard of the German cemetery stands inside the room dedicated to German general Erwin Rommel at the cemetery where some 4,200 German soldiers are buried in El Alamein town, Matrouh province, north coast of Egypt. (Chaoyue 超越 PAN 潘 / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Our cultural treasures of music, art, and literature can bind us together. But in an era of interconnectedness, our art can also be perversely woven together with our statecraft. Mohammed Fairouz on the arc of history bending toward radiance:

“The only thing that has changed with the advent of increased interconnectivity is that there is even greater potential for us to have positive impacts on one another in our ongoing human conversation. May it ever continue.”

On May 20th we’ll be releasing Creating Our Own Lives (yes, that abbreviates to C.O.O.L.!), a new podcast inspired by the Your Audio Selfie project. Each episode features the voice of one guest, uninterrupted, responding to a single, clarifying question. And it’s hosted by our senior producer Lily Percy. The first series focuses on running as a spiritual practice, followed by humor as a tool for survival, and movies as church. Listen to the preview on iTunes first, and then subscribe if you dig. The first episode with ’64 Olympian Billy Mills is epic!

I wish you all a pleasant spring and a prosperous summer. Thanks so much for reading. Until next week, please feel free to contact me with any advice, criticism, feedback at trentgilliss@onbeing.org, or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.
May the wind always be at your back.
Trent


Have you subscribed to our Letter from Loring Park? It’s a free, weekly newsletter offering a refuge for interestingness and reflection in an Internet land of distraction. Each Saturday morning, your will receive a rich digest of visual beauty, aspirational quotations, and links to some of our executive editor’s favorite articles. Try it out for a few weeks!

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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