A lesson in expectations, disappointment, and living forward tradition from our Hamilton-obsessed columnist.
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.
Sometimes we need to trick our hearts to make great art — and do the things that most scare us.
Literature has the unique power to make us feel less alone in the world by elevating our deepest stories and connecting us beyond the divides of time, space, and politics.
A young man becomes a listening nomad; a missing violin brings a musician closer to herself; a community of Detroiters meditates with Sylvia Boorstein; Courtney Martin mourns the freedoms of childlessness. Reflections on the unexpected places where we find deep truth in ourselves and each other.
The Japanese art of kintsugi — repairing cracks in pottery with gold — gives a new perspective on how healing and illuminating our own flaws can lead to a more nourishing wholeness.
Prescient words from Parker Palmer, Omid Safi, Courtney E. Martin, Broderick Greer, and recommended listens/reads from Tim Ferriss and The Economist.
A robust hope can be found in the work and life of Langston Hughes, infused with a visionary love for words and the world.
The struggle for soul in education and patriotism, the joy of marching in step, and reckoning with the legacy of our nation’s heroes and history.
A study of the mysterious alchemy of place — not merely somewhere to go, but something rich with the life and memory of those who know it well.
Leonard Cohen’s timeless lyrics are a beacon of hope for even the most broken among us. An expression of gratitude to our latest lost legend.
From the loss of Leonard Cohen and the victory of the Chicago Cubs, music and language inviting you to think differently about shelter, resilience, suffering, and harmony.
Meaning and learning present themselves to us in unexpected ways. Commentaries on keeping ourselves open to surprising lenses on life, and to how they can enrich our relationships, our work, and our play.
From the inspiration and discipline we learn from sport to opening up to the experience of strangers, a digest of interesting writings on the ways we evolve together: physically, spiritually, and creatively.
The Sufi tradition is infused with the beauty of art and song. Honoring singer Amjad Sabri, Omid Safi celebrates and gives thanks for the spiritual gift of the qawwali devotional.
In an information-saturated world, it’s the power of poetry and art that helps us transcend a steady stream of depressing news reports and partisan diatribes and process just how badly we’re hurting as a country.
Returning to the potter’s wheel, Jane Gross shares learnings on embracing uncertainty and lack of control, in ceramics and in life.
Physical presence and inner life are more integrated than we might imagine. Meditations on how we move through stress, our relationship with the body, and making meaning in the rhythms of everyday life.
To write is to bare your soul to a critical world. A writer reflects on the bravery to reject shame and pursue the creative crafts.
How do we cut through distraction to nurture our best selves forward? Our executive editor shares reflections on rediscovering the glory around and within us, from the journey of an olympic runner, to the lyrical labyrinth of rap, to healing the void of loss with art and memory.
Our cultural treasures of music, art, and literature can bind us together. But in an era of interconnectedness, our art can also be woven together with our statecraft. Mohammed Fairouz cautions against cultural appropriation by charting the story of our universal cultural heritage, from the court of ancients to the modern day.
Being a published writer, especially of books, is a celebrated marker of accomplishment in our culture. But is it the only way to leave our mark? Courtney Martin with some helpful advice for the struggling writer, or for uncovering a better channel for our creative drive.
An encouragement from our house sage to see what others don’t and not be afraid to show others that vision.
Life, like verse, contains beauty, grit, and uncomfortable truth. Inspired by a couplet from Thoreau, our columnist reflects on the journey of life as an artistic, creative craft, in the vein of lyrical composition.
In poesy and paint, artistic praise for holy birth in Jerusalem and beyond.
Familiar items are strangely comforting throughout life, much less in difficult times. A gay man discovers himself through his ongoing relationship with a Renoir painting.
The joy that we might normally feel in this season of Thanksgiving is tempered by sadness in the wake of violence. But the privilege and responsibility of gratitude may be the most powerful counter to these negative forces — whether embodied in a loving gesture, or through the appreciation of art.
Many seek the unique freedom only found in nature’s wide open spaces. A multimedia sculptor and photographer explores the roots of her artistic creations in her intimate connection with nature’s “unknowable infinity.”
The limitations of language can be a barrier to deep connection. But the metaphor of unity and interconnectedness found in a sculpture by Jaume Plensa reminds us of the power of art and poetry to traverse this boundary.
When age and experience dwindle our capacity for wonder, the books of our childhood may be our salvation and our “thin places” where the boundary between the material and the magical opens ourselves to wonder all over again.
An encouragement to be “children of the moment,” a people with the spiritual discipline of being fully present in the here and now.
Tagore took up painting late in life, in his 60s. But his prodigious aptitude produced nearly 2500 paintings and drawings in a span of just 15 years. In this essay, our guest scholar introduces Tagore’s technique and his place within the art world — featuring a curated collection of Tagore’s most evocative paintings.
The best of the week — including an invitation to our studios, a lesson in the uniqueness of humans, sage words from Parker Palmer on paradox, and an arresting collection of images that captures everyday life in Africa.
Pairing this photo of a modernist architectural wonder with words from Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, who instructs us to pursue our creative instincts.
Parker Palmer draws inspiration from the words of Wendell Berry on celebrating one’s obstacles and the impeded stream that sings.
Musing on the hidden lives and legacies of objects and how “heaven is being a memory to others,” our Twitter recap of a spacious conversation between philosopher-artist Dario Robleto and Krista Tippett.
Has the word grace fallen out of favor? Anna Deavere Smith’s Conversations on Grace offers a way for us to think of grace as a pluralistic universe and a guide for all of us on the art of dwelling here together, in the polis.
Don’t tweet. No problem. A compilation of our tweets of a wandering conversation with a maker on language, time, and life as a maker.
There’s something magical about the way Ann Hamilton inhabits space. This video will transport you to an extraordinary world of ordinary life observed by a maker.
The Zen master demonstrates the mindful art of calligraphy, and how it’s a practice of meditation.
Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech is exactly what you need. Make mistakes, enjoy the journey, break the rules, make good art.
A recap of our favorite bits of curiosity from this week, including epistolary correspondence, Krista re-entering the Twitter fray, and a revival post. And a whole lot more!
A community college professor responds to Seth Godin’s story with his student’s poetry.
A retired exec-turned-woodturner follows his compass to reveal the inner beauty of felled trees in massive, delicate works of art.
The unexpected response to last week’s sketchnotes of the Seth Godin interview prompted us to reach out to Doug Neill…
Watch this fabulous talk on Hubble and Rembrandt, Casablanca in psychological terms, how stars actually “evolve,” and why Malala Yousafzai’s bravery is “the best example of the power of curiosity.”
“I picked up a camera in journalism class, and it was truly spiritual.” We’ve had the honor of working with Ann Marsden many times over the years. Her passion for her craft inspired all of us at On Being, and we’ll miss her deeply.
An intimate video portrait of an artist who creates daily ritual by creating simple drawings with tea and ink.
“The trade of chemist (fortified, in my case, by the experience of Auschwitz), teaches you to overcome, indeed to ignore, certain revulsions that are neither necessary nor congenital: matter is matter, neither noble nor vile, infinitely transformable, and its proximate origin is of no importance whatsoever. Nitrogen is nitrogen, it passes miraculously from the air into plants, from these into animals, and from animals into us; when its function in our body is exhausted, we eliminate it, but it still remains nitrogen, aseptic, innocent.”
“I see my work as a vehicle for relationships. A great painting isn’t great until viewers come and engage with it.”