Edit this post

The On Being Project

Meeting Truth with Focus and Humility

Krista talked wisdom and social courage with Maria Shriver while in LA. And she launched the paperback release of Becoming Wise with Intimate Wisdom Tour events in Princeton (NJ), Cambridge (MA), Portsmouth (NH), Raleigh (NC), Lancaster (PA), and San Francisco (CA) too.

What Our Columnists Are Thinking About

Our columnists had a lot to say this week, and their words really appealed to our readers. I’ve selected some of my favorites below.

( Ars Electronica)

Omid Safi | The Prayer of the Heart
Omid’s lyrical language turns us toward an omnipresent truth — albeit a bracing one — that our petitions must be met with “a presence in the heart”:

“So much of our lives are spent in a fractured state of heart. We are, too often, scattered. We speak about being scatterbrained. The truth of the matter is that the scatteredness is much more systematic. We are scattered at every level: body, soul, mind, spirit.

We do this to ourselves. We throw ourselves to the past, often clinging to a past pain and trauma. Or, we hurl ourselves towards the future, attaching ourselves to a hope for the future, or fear of losing something. We are in the past, or in the future, everywhere but here.

To pray with the heart, to have presence in the heart, is a remedy. It is a healing, an un-scattering. Presence is simply to have our heart be where our feet are.”

(Helgi Halldorsson / Flickr / Attribution-ShareAlike)

Parker Palmer | Withering Into the Truth
Our eldest columnist recently turned 78. As a kind of gift to himself, Parker shares six lessons about his personal evolution during a life well-lived: embracing aging, the redemptive nature of poetry, saying “enough” to anything not life-giving, caring for one’s own well being, jettisoning one’s own “psychological junk,” and “withering into the truth of death” as ultimate truth:

“I have no idea what, if anything, I will learn from dying. This is all I know for sure: I have no bad memories of wherever I came from when I arrived on this planet, so I have no good reason to fear where I’m going when I depart.”

(Brandon King / Flickr / Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs)

Courtney Martin | What Women Without Kids Are Teaching This Mom
The response to Courtney’s column last week was strong and wide-ranging. Some readers told her that she’d overestimated her understanding of those women who chose not to have children. So she opted to reach out to readers and friends who made that decision, willingly or involuntarily, and asked:

“What is the best part about not having kids? The worst? Have you chosen not to have kids for the long haul? What was making that choice like for you? What is the biggest surprise for you about being child-free?”

The result? A lovely piece of writing highlighting some of those responses. Courtney has unlocked a conversation that’s not happening nearly enough.

What We’re Reading and Listening To

The Paris Review | The Alley Cats of Istanbul
Reporting and producing from Istanbul several years ago, I was taken aback by the number of stray cats wandering about the city. They’ve become a source of identity and pride for many, and a nuisance to others who think about modernizing an ancient city. Such an interesting blog post full of astute observations.

Jewish Journal | Searching for Truth in an Age of Lies
Marty Kaplan’s take on “old school truth” and its existential threat provides some fascinating examples about the uncertain lines we walk in a digital age, whether a movie studio “manufacturing fake fake news,” Facebook’s algorithms standing in for morality, or President Trump’s recent news conference.

The New York Times | Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?)
I was raised on the premise that multitasking was absolutely necessary in order to do more and be successful. But it’s come at a cost, so lately I’ve been focusing on paying attention to people with singular purpose. It’s been really helpful. I guess it’s called monotasking!

“The more we allow ourselves to be distracted from a particular activity, the more we feel the need to be distracted. Paying attention pays dividends…the ability to monotask might be most valuable in social situations.”

Guest Writer of the Week

(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Miguel Clark Mallet | On Echo Chambers and Everyday Americans
What if we considered our nation not as factions at war, but as members of a broken family? Miguel gives us a new way to think about how to step out of the echo chambers of our public life:

“Those of us who bear and know and live that third story, the story of brokenness that lives beside the beauty, have to tell it. And tell it again. And keep telling it. Not to save our national family, though it does offer that possibility. Not to ‘win’ or ‘be right.’ Not even just because it’s true. We have to keep telling it because that’s the only way we can keep our sanity.”

Writing this newsletter each week is an exercise in bringing some of the best of our worlds to you. And it’s written for you. Tell me how I’m doing — whether it be critical (I can take it!) or laudatory (I can handle praise, too!). You can reach me at [email protected] or via Twitter. My handle is @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back!

Share Your Reflection