Pilgrimage, Poetry, and Qualities of Kindness

Saturday, January 21, 2017 - 5:30 am

Pilgrimage, Poetry, and Qualities of Kindness

To the many folks who wrote over the past few weeks, my deepest gratitude for your edifying words and heartening encouragements for the year to come. Please keep writing us at mail@onbeing.org. And, with the paperback release of Becoming Wise on February 28, and live events in Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco, this spring’s schedule is turning out to be a full one!

U.S. President Barack Obama jokingly mimics U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” expression while greeting members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams in the Oval Office November 15, 2012 at the White House in Washington, DC. (Pete Souza / The White House / © All Rights Reserved)

Presuming a Reservoir of Goodness
Courtney Martin

Drawing on a line from President Obama’s farewell speech, our columnist ponders the danger of one’s own blindness in both presuming good and ill intent in our political figures:

“I wonder if what’s an even bigger risk than ‘presuming a reservoir of goodness in others’ is presuming a reservoir of malevolence. Because that’s where I’m at.”

In Search of Kindness
Omid Safi

“I am grateful for any and every encounter — yes, even the ones that left me brokenhearted. Now I know that even the brokenness made me seek the healing. We cannot seek water without thirst. And when I come across people who carry their own pain and suffering — which is all of us, each and every single one — having had my own pain makes it so much more real, more personal, more immediate to sit with them and their pain. We are rarely more human than we are when we see the suffering in one another.”

Qualities of relationship in our romantic lives take on many expressions, morphing and evolving over time. Above all else, Omid writes, seek kindness in your partner — a quality one might nurture in oneself throughout time.

(Naomi Pincher / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

The Paths We Take Tumble Together
Sharon Salzberg

“…a constant movement through constant change.”

This phrase describes how many folks are feeling these days — unmoored and uncertain, like electrons jumping orbitals. But how might we navigate and respond “to these inevitable shifts”? Sharon looks to the tradition of pilgrimage as a means of reframing “the journey into the unknown.”

A woman looks at documents as she gets ready to cast her ballot during municipal elections at a polling station on August 3, 2016 in Soweto’s Freedom Park, South Africa. (John Wessels / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Things Could Have Been Otherwise
Parker Palmer

A poem from the late Jane Kenyon inspires Parker to have “gratitude for the ordinary”:

“I got out of bed / on two strong legs. / It might have been / otherwise…”

What Else We’re Reading

Philosophy Can Teach Children What Google Can’t
from The Guardian

Charlotte Blease, a cognitive scientist and cofounder of Philosophy Ireland, makes a compelling case for flexible thinking in a robotic world — not because teaching the subject will bring back lost jobs but because it equips future generations “to build immunity against careless judgments and unentitled certitude.” (Hat tip to Pádraig Ó Tuama for the heads-up.)

Signs You Need to Leave Your Startup
from Medium

This essay shouldn’t just be limited to founders of organizations or CEOs; it provides useful points applicable to almost anybody who has worked a job. Al Doan, a tech entrepreneur and cofounder of the hugely successful Missouri Star Quilt Company who just relinquished his role, makes himself vulnerable and offers a list of indicators that just might help you become a better colleague at work, whether you’re an intern, a middle manager, or the leader of the free world.


Music for the Moment: “Keep Moving”

The work we do introduces us to creative people and burgeoning scenes all over the world. Pratapaditya Deb, a 30-year-old musician from New Delhi, reached out to say thank you for our podcast. But we are the fortunate ones. Listen to his song about “the quietly devastating experience of being lost in the belly of the whale.” A really beautiful way to start out your day.

May the wind always be at your back!

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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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