gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Monthly Archives: March 2014

Gone

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A whole life, gone.

When a person dies, their whole life goes away, which may not seem very significant because people die all the time and it is a natural part of life, but it is actually a tremendous loss. Say a person lives for 90 years,  when that person dies, those 90 years go away along with the person. This is a tragic loss, especially if the person lived a rich life and offered a big portion of themselves to other people. Everything that they accomplished during those years goes away, and sometimes, it means the end of a family. Their struggles go away, and sometimes even their culture and their history go away. But what if we try to incorporate that person and the things that were important to them into our lives, and by doing so, feel as though we incorporate ourselves into them? If we do this, we can honor that person and carry on their legacy. Furthermore, we allow that person to stay with us and always remember them.

Can’t get enough of this song

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Lazy

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Sometimes I think I’m lazy because I have such trouble pin-pointing what it is that I want to do in life, and I wonder if part of the problem is that I’m too lazy to really delve deep into one particular thing. The word ‘lazy’ has a negative connotation, but maybe it’s just misunderstood in some contexts. I would say that I am lazy,  but not because I am not curious to explore different fields, but because I am indecisive about what to explore and uncertain of how to go about doing so. I feel lazy as I struggle to figure out where my passion lies and how to pursue it, which makes me feel badly since being lazy is thought of in such a negative way. But then I have to remember what is causing this ‘laziness’ and attempt to overcome the cause rather than the effect.

Place

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It’s interesting how your familial connections can take you to different physical places. For me, par example, I was born in Rome, Italy and lived there for the first eight years of my life because my dad worked there, then we moved to South Bend, Indiana, again because of my dad’s job, and now I’m living in a small town in Massachusetts because my grandparents lived here. It’s just interesting that the place where you are born is certainly out of your control, as is the place where you grow up while you are under your family’s care, and then even when you go out on your own you sometimes end up somewhere because of your family’s influence, as I did. Of course, some people choose to go somewhere completely unrelated to where they have familial connection, but not all. Those that are very close to their families tend to stay close to home or move someplace else where they have family (like myself). But I suppose that those who are not so close to their families, or those who place their career above all else, may move far away from family. These observations may seem rather obvious, but I have recently been struck by the influence that one’s family can have on where one lives throughout one’s lifetime.

Invitation to the Voyage by Charles Baudelaire

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In honor of my grandpa

Invitation to the Voyage

My child, my sister,
Think of the rapture
Of living together there!
Of loving at will,
Of loving till death,
In the land that is like you!
The misty sunlight
Of those cloudy skies
Has for my spirit the charms,
So mysterious,
Of your treacherous eyes,
Shining brightly through their tears.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

Gleaming furniture,
Polished by the years,
Will ornament our bedroom;
The rarest flowers
Mingling their fragrance
With the faint scent of amber,
The ornate ceilings,
The limpid mirrors,
The oriental splendor,
All would whisper there
Secretly to the soul
In its soft, native language.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

See on the canals
Those vessels sleeping.
Their mood is adventurous;
It’s to satisfy
Your slightest desire
That they come from the ends of the earth.
— The setting suns
Adorn the fields,
The canals, the whole city,
With hyacinth and gold;
The world falls asleep
In a warm glow of light.

There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure.

“Joie de vivre”

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Some people just have more ‘life’ in them than others – more things they’ve done, more things they want to do, and more creative minds that take them to different places. My grandfather was such a person, and upon his recent death, my mother and I have been examining his life as we’ve been trying to write his obituary. I’m just amazed by all that he has done – not that everything he did was terribly significant, although some things certainly were, but it’s the little things like his hobbies and interests that add up to a remarkable life. He was a fantastic photographer (although not professionally trained) and set up his own darkroom in his house to develop pictures, he was an accomplished pianist (which ran in the family), he traveled extensively throughout Europe with my grandmother, he had several careers as a teacher, journalist and professor, he had an intellect that I haven’t seen surpassed by anyone else that I’ve encountered (although I’ve had some fantastic professors that have come close), and was an art collector & chess player. He fled his homeland due to political unrest and left his family behind, never to see them again, lived in four countries ranging two continents, and knew four languages. He wrote several scholarly books and articles and, most importantly, he had a tremendous sense of humor. He made fun of people, criticized everything, and had very strong opinions regarding politics; but now, looking back, it was all in good fun (maybe). As I think about all these things that my grandfather has done and accomplished, I just can’t fathom that someone could have the enthusiasm to do all those things with and the heart to survive some of the things that he has. It’s really amazing to me. Like I said, some people just have more ‘life’ in them than others.

Experiences as works of art

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John Dewey believes that certain extraordinary experiences can be works of art – the kinds of experiences that make us feel completely in the moment and that are really memorable. I have to agree with him because there are certain experiences that stand apart from others because there is a certain feeling of genuineness about them – things like a Sunday drive or an outing to a place you’ve never been before that you end up thoroughly enjoying even though you had no expectations.

Many of the experiences that we have on a day-to-day basis do not possess an extraordinary quality. However, some experiences seem to evolve in a way that is very satisfying to us and perhaps we learn something from the experience that helps us makes sense of our lives or enlightens us in some way, giving us direction.

Likewise, many things in life are constantly evolving, which is why it is so important for us to fully immerse ourselves in an experience so that we do not miss the evolution of the experience. Dewey argues that it is when we are fully immersed in an experience that we are living most artfully. If one focuses on an experience and becomes part of the experience and directly involved with it, rather than standing outside the experience looking in on it, one can have a truly magnificent experience. On the other hand, if one goes through life not paying much attention to his experiences, therefore preventing the possibility of an extraordinary experience, this would be an indifferent stance toward life and not recommended by Dewey, or myself. Clearly, the former attempt of truly immersing oneself in an experience in order to have a unique, extraordinary experience is the better path through life, as it is richer and more fulfilling. 

Used bookstores

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Walking through a used bookstore is like a scavenger hunt. You’re always on the lookout for a great find because there are surely many hidden all over. It can be overwhelming since there is far too much to look at, but it’s mesmerizing and you just keep sifting through all the books in search of the perfect find. It can be tedious, but also thrilling when you do find what you’re looking for.

Introvert

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Interacting with people can sometimes be exhausting. Trying to be polite, think of things to say, read how the other person is feeling/what they’re thinking, etc. can be very tiring. Sometimes it’s just easier to be alone with your own thoughts and not have to worry about conversation with others. I think this is due to the introvert in me, but I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot to be said for dedicating time to one’s thoughts because ultimately I think it leads to a better understanding of oneself and, in turn, of the world around us.

Sea change

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I have just received my first admission to a graduate school! When I first found out, I was so excited and happy and I couldn’t sit still…I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents, who were out to dinner when I called and had to wait an hour until they got home to tell them. During that time I was so anxious and thrilled, but relieved when I finally got to tell someone! Now that a couple of days have gone by since I found out, I have felt such a mixture of emotions ranging from excited, happy, thrilled to nervous, intimidated, self-doubtful, anxious, and worried. A lot goes into deciding whether or not you attend a certain graduate school – i.e. if you actually want to go there, if the program is a good fit for you, whether or not you can handle it, what that degree will lead to, the expenses, giving up your current life for something different, etc. So I am not making any rash decisions, but I have to say that I am extremely happy to have gotten in to such a magnificent institution and am excited about what it could potentially lead to in life.