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The On Being Project

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When Our Sadness Is More Than Just a Silly Feeling

When Our Sadness Is More Than Just a Silly Feeling

An unexpected surprise: Gimlet Media’s Sampler podcast featured our conversation with Nikki Giovanni in their latest episode. Awesome. With that good news, let’s jump right in!

Prince’s death has a had a profound impact on our home city of Minneapolis. There’s a collective grief that’s drawn people together into a strange, sacred place. Siri Liv Myhrom artfully describes what the passing of this beloved celebrity is teaching us about becoming fully and uncompromisingly ourselves:

“That grief, however and whenever it shows up, is the constant reminder of the unfilled spaces that still live in us — and that reminder holds immense transformative potential for us. It brings into our awareness again, for brief moments at at time, what we all know we could be, if we dared.”

The Jesuit poet and antiwar protester Daniel Berrigan in 1972, appearing on Meet the Press, a week after being released from prison. (Bettmann Archive / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

The towering figure who was Fr. Daniel Berrigan left this world this week. Much had been written about him, and I found myself at an editorial loss to find a way to honor his memory in a fresh light. But, of course, Omid Safi comes through. He builds on Siri’s idea of collective sadness by mourning a man — a saint, in Omid’s words — he never met and wasn’t aware of until his death:

“I weep for him because I yearn for the presence, the touch, the glance, the teaching of people like him, people who keep us in traditions. I worry that without them, we lose our connection to all that is lovely and beautiful.”

(For another loving tribute, read our contributing editor Paul Elie’s postscript on Daniel Berrigan in The New Yorker.)

Mangroves spread in fractal patterns along the remote Keep River in Australia. Image courtesy of Planet Labs. (Planet Labs / )

“The world is being built. It is growing. It is on fire. It is collapsing. It is in bloom. It is in decay. And it is all these things at once.”

Andrew Zolli’s guest post is a tapestry of marvelous satellite images of Earth interwoven with ideas on how we can feel something new and see the world whole.

(taquiman / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“If our inner struggles were more visible, more compassion would flow.”

Fear and anxiety are key drivers in decision-making. We all know it. We all want to overcome those internal battles that rage within. But that’s easier sad than done. Parker Palmer, once again, with some guiding words on crafting a more empathetic imagination for those whose battles we can’t see.

(On Being / Some Rights Reserved)

Our second installment of our new podcast, Becoming Wise (subscribe on iTunes), features the late Irish poet-philosopher John O’Donohue. In this post, Krista draws on his poetic approach to beauty’s true grit, and how we can create our own inner landscapes of beauty:

“Beauty is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and a homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”

The author’s mother in the United States with her first daughter, niece, and nephew. (Adrienne Minh-Chau Le / © All Rights Reserved)

“When I ask what you remember most vividly from the day that Saigon fell, you remember people’s sad eyes.”

In last week’s Letter from Loring Park, I recommended Frontline’s powerful portrait of a Syrian refugee family. Adrienne Minh-Chau Le, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, brings that struggle and resilience to life right here in the U.S. Adrienne reminds me of my own immigrant heritage and the sacrifices our predecessors make for generations to flourish.

(Harmon Li / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“13. Notice, in her, the ‘bad behavior’ of humanity, unfiltered. Let it teach you about the dark parts of yourself.

14. Realize that you have nothing to do with any of this.”

A number of my colleagues said they shared Courtney’s column with their mothers after they read her 32 rocky steps on the rocky road of parenting. I highly recommend you share this list with your mothers too. And see what they say!

For those of you with limited time, a few things worth taking in this weekend when you have a few extra moments:

  • Master Class: Krista Tippett on the Art of Conversation. PlusAcumen, a not-for-profit online school working to tackle problems of poverty, crafted this 20-lecture course with Krista. In this class, she shares how conversations are more than a means to an end but an opening to the “imaginative possibilities” and “practical possibilities” that can change everything.
  • What The #MoreThanMean Viral Video Didn’t Tell You. Julie DiCaro’s captivating piece reflects on why she took part and builds on the momentum of a video I found incredibly difficult to watch.
  • 4 Men with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford. From a father just on the poverty line to a millionaire CEO, Esquire shows that answers to questions about money and satisfaction vary wildly but share some similarities too.
  • Thanks so much for reading. Until next week, please feel free to contact me with any advice, criticism, feedback at [email protected], or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.
    May the wind always be at your back.

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