The Wisdom Report
Posted on January 28, 2010
I’ve learned that some of the world’s best wisdom comes from preachers and curmudgeons.
First, the preacher wisdom: Sometimes stuff has to die off so something better can be born in its place. Now, the preacher in question wasn’t necessarily talking about people dying when he said this. He said this death could be the loss of a job, a relationship, a preconceived notion about yourself or someone else. This death could actually be a major life change that turns everything you thought you knew on its head. Maybe it’s the so-called death of publishing. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever the case, as with any loss, you have to go through a period of mourning. But then, you have to let go and have faith that something great is going to bloom.
It’s good to remind yourself of this in challenging times.
Second, the curmudgeonly wisdom: “In your late thirties, you’re looking at what you’ve done and whether you’ve done everything you’d hoped to do. But what you need to realize is that you have a lot of living left to do and that will get it done and you will be fine.”
It’s good to remind yourself of this in your most neurotic moments.
Why do I tell you this? Because I think that sometimes we need to be reminded to sit back and get ready for new growth.
Forcing things does you no good at all.
So says Meryl Streep at least in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair. Streep told Vanity Fair writer Leslie Bennetts: “I’m sort of like the girl at the dance who waits to be asked…I don’t seek out material, I don’t buy books, I don’t curry favor with producers—I just wait.”
Waiting seems to have worked for her. I’m learning to make it work for me too.
What’s some of the best wisdom you’ve heard recently? Share it in comments.
Shifting gears, here are some stories and posts that have interested me over the past few days:
Colorful lives French cultural icons fascinate me, in part because they say things like this Catherine Deneuve gem: “When you get older, you have to be ready to trade your ass for your face.” This week, TIME features stories on French singer Serge Gainsbourg and his daughter, the singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. The elder Gainsbourg (who died of a heart attack in 1991) is the subject of a big screen biopic called Gainsbourg (Vie Héroïque). The singer of “Je t’aime…moi non plus,” Gainsbourg was known for his cool guy stubble, his ever-present cigarette and his relationship with British singer/actress Jane Birkin. Exploring how Gainsbourg’s childhood shaped his life, the movie also uses cartoon-ish alter egos that speak to the French icon in times of extreme angst. As for the younger Gainsbourg, who has recovered from a 2007 brain hemorrhage, there’s much ado about her recent musical collaboration with Beck, her role as muse for Balenciaga’s new perfume, and her part in the thriller Antichrist. In Antichrist, Gainsbourg plays a woman who loses her mind (and bangs her head on a toilet, and pleasures herself in a forest and mutilates her own…lady parts) after her son dies. When asked whether it was harder to sing or, um, conduct the forest scene, Gainsbourg told TIME that it was harder to sing “because there’s more of myself. I feel more responsible.” Interesting family, those Gainsbourgs. Me, I’d rather sing.
The Camus To-Do Speaking of French icons, writer-philosopher Albert Camus is being honored this month because it is the 50th anniversary of his death. NPR reports that this celebration turned political once President Nicholas Sarkozy recommended moving Camus’ remains from their current resting place in Provence to the Pantheon in Paris, alongside greats such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Emile Zola, Louis Braille and Victor Hugo. The suggestion raised the hackles of Frenchmen who felt Sarkozy was using Camus — a self-proclaimed outsider who fought in the French resistance – to give him some “intellectual sparkle.” Olivier Todd, a Camus biographer, told NPR “Sarkozy may have felt that he needed Camus, but Camus certainly doesn’t need Sarkozy.” Sacre Bleu.
Yoga for Foodies As you can probably tell, I love to eat. But the last the thing I want after an hour and a half of Bikram is dinner served on my sweaty yoga mat. This New York Times story about yoga classes with a foodie element is a fun look at both trends and the inevitable culture clash that happens when you try to merge the two.
Stop Doing List I spoke up above about wisdom and change. Danielle Laporte adds to that wisdom base with this post, which says that it’s just as important to write a “stop doing” list as it is to write a “to do” list. How is that? Because when you stop doing certain things, you have more time to do the things that are important to you. Is there something that should be on your “stop doing” list? If so, what is it?
Tomorrow: A recipe for Daube Provencal (a to-die-for beef stew infused with orange zest) and maybe something else good. We’ll see…