- INTERVIEWER: Do the journalist and the novelist have different responsibilities in balancing truth versus the imagination?
- GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ: In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.
- From the Paris Review
Rodney Mullen, unscripted and so full of life.
I remember being asked for the first time what I wanted to be when I grew up. My response? A clown.
I was in kindergarten and there was nothing I wanted more than to make people happy. I shared this at a school assembly and all the kids laughed at me. I still remember feeling embarrassed that I hadn’t said something like lawyer instead. Despite the reactions of the other kids, it’s probably one of the more serious and telling things I’ve said about myself.
However, very recently and very importantly, I realized that making people happy wasn’t a big enough aspiration; I had to learn to make myself happy (and that is a million times harder).
Beautiful photography and words from artist Daniel Zvereff.
I was fortunate enough to grow up with a mother who insisted that I write letters (mostly of the ‘thank you’ variety) from a young age. This means a few things; I always have stationary and stamps in my apartment, I have a favorite pen (can we all take a moment to thank the gods for MUJI?), my handwriting is bizarrely artistic (read: illegible), and I still believe in the value of physically mailing letters.
That being said, I also really love writing e-mails. Taking the time to craft messages that get pinged to family and friends near and far. My college roommate and I repaired a crumbling friendship the summer after our first year through emails alone - epic emails that I hope I can track down somehow, someday. My aunt, who has always lived a million miles away, and I ‘pen’ tomes of varying degrees of humor and seriousness regularly. And the list goes on from there.
The greatest value of these messages, whether handwritten or typed, is the time they allow me to consider the parts of my life that will bring the recipient of the message the greatest joy or pleasure. Someone else becomes the primacy of my life, even just for a moment.
A friend was recently waxing poetic about the value of creating and sharing (stories, songs, art); that the value was in the act itself, not it’s hypothetical or hoped for popularity or success. And I find that in an age where I’m constantly sharing to the unknown ‘follower’, letter writing is a fortress of focused attention on a single person.
I love reconsidering the value of one, in an age where ‘scale’ is over valued.
When life takes a swing at you and connects, it really does help to ‘walk it off’; metaphorically and in the true physical sense.
I’ve been grappling with some gnarly, tangled, but super important issues in my life recently. The kind of struggles that any 5 year old could solve in 2 minutes, but a 30 year old has to ruminate on for months and months during bone pounding runs or walks in frigid weather to sort out.
The only moments where I’ve had any clarity have been when I’m in motion; running across the Brooklyn Bridge, sprinting up a hill in Prospect Park, walking with coffee in hand alongside dog owners in the wee hours of the morning.
“We see in order to move; we move in order to see.”
Recently, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time considering how I spend my time.
As adults, one of our greatest freedoms is that we get to choose how we spend the hours of our day. You can argue that work dictates certain tasks but ultimately we have the ability to choose what we do for work. From the moment we wake up in the morning (thanks to an alarm we set), we can choose how to use every minute of the day. Will we lay in bed and read that New Yorker article that our friends keep talking to us about? Will we don our sweat-wicking workout clothing and do a 4-miler to chase away the demons? Will we crack open our laptops and start pounding out e-mails? Will we move closer to the person we’re sharing our life and our bed with and give them a kiss? Will we curse ourselves for setting an alarm for 5:30am?
Each minute we fill with action or inaction reflects who we are as an individual and what matters to us.
I re-read a commencement address that David Foster Wallace gave in 2005 at Kenyon a few weeks ago. In it he describes what he sees as the value of real education, “You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.”
This led me to start considering what, who, and how I worship - how do I spend the minutes of my day and what does that say about me as a person?
I try to spend as much of my day in conversation - with people, with myself - because I see what matters most in the world is what we offer others and what we learn in return. I worship relationships and the conversations that build and strengthen them.
The days when I feel like the best version of myself are the days where I spend my minutes listening to people, hearing them describe what is beautiful or difficult about their life at the moment, and taking the time to pay attention to them. The days when I feel worst are when I spend it staring at a computer screen having a one-way conversation with technology, disengaged from the environment I am part of and the people who inhabit it.
"The way we are living, timorous or bold, will have been our life." - Seamus Heaney
Pair with this excellent read on why human character is a constant evolution, not a fixed quality.
"What’s terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don’t need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you’re capable of better.”
Doris Lessing, born in Iran - then known as Persia - and brought up in the African bush in Zimbabwe, a Marxist-turned-Sufi, novelist, playwright, poet, author of ”feminist bible” - The Golden Notebook, librettist, sci-fi writer, and the eleventh woman to ever receive the Nobel Prize in Lit, dead at 94.