February 18, 2011: Let Go, Let God?

Okay. True confession:

I’ve been reading The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson. Like Wilkerson, herself, and countless readers of that amazing book, I have completely fallen in love with Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, one of the three people featured in the book.

BUT: Having read of Ida Mae’s hard life from small child in Jim Crow Mississippi to great-grandmother in cold, racist Chicago, I know that much of the hardships she’s had to endure have to do with the color of her and her family’s skin. Yet when something terrible happens, Ida Mae always says, “God don’t make no mistakes.”

I am just having such a hard time accepting that.

February 11, 2011: Let Go, Let the Years

If you might be tempted to ask, “Did you like the Beatles?” of someone you’d just met, as one character does in “Another Year,” then you just might love Mike Leigh’s new film.

I do and did. And found how the film’s four middle-aged characters—two aging pretty gracefully, two not so much—enormously touching.

february 10, 2011: Let Go, Let Gravity

Yesterday I discovered that a different route to where I needed to go—Davis Square and Porter Square—was 98% smooth sailing; sidewalks were mostly cleared, mostly easy to walk on. Yet this morning, about to walk to Porter Square again, hesitated to take off my YakTrax.

Whoa, I realized. I am really, really scared to fall. Even when I know my journey will involve, tops, a couple of yards of ice.

Time to reconnect with Learning to Fall, I advised myself, striding along.

May I suggest you do, too?

July 13, 2010: “I wrote a book about it!”

Last night at Porter Square Bookstore, twenty-nine year old Melissa Febos read from her amazing book, Whip Smart, a beautifully written, insightful, totally honest, redemptive memoir re being a dominatrix and drug addict—until she wasn’t. (Full disclosure: She’s the daughter of a dear friend.)

More than once during the Q & A, when to further explain something she’d touched upon during her reading, she’d answer, in effect: “Humans are incredibly complicated, I’m complicated, sadomasochism is complicated. Please don’t ask me to give you a quick answer to complex topics. None of this is easy or facile. That’s why I wrote a book about it. Because after four years of being a dom, I know stuff. About power. About shame. About ‘God-shaped holes.’ Read my book.”

Yes. Do.

April 6, 2010: This one’s for you, Sarah “Reload” Palin

This month’s history theme came up because my dear friend Lissa gave me a copy of Richard J. Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich (if you know Lissa, you know that such a book is a pretty typical offering. If you know me, you know how grateful I am to have a friend like Lissa.)

“Gripping,” “Comprehensive,”  Magisterial,” “Definitive,” claims the paperback’s covers. All true.

That I was reading this gripping, . . .  book the weekend Barney Frank and John Lewis were verbally abused made this page-turner even more compelling.

Today’s lesson: One reason the Nazis  rose to power? A pervasive, ominous, well-publicized threat of violence. Yes, certainly the Brownshirts and the Stormtroopers outright attacked  newspaper offices, union headquarters, assaulted Jews, university professors, Communists.

But for the exhausted Germans, debilitated by war and hyper-inflation and shame (I am becoming more and more fascinated by shame; more anon), that this violent, might-is-right movement (in its earliest days, Nazis called themselves a movement, not a political party) had been unleashed [great word, huh] was enough. Even if the Brownshirts hadn’t burned any books in your town, you were likely to think and act and vote as if they had.

So listen up, Sarah Palin. As a Quaker, I “utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons.” (That’s from our Peace Testimony which we announced “to the whole world” in 1661.) And now that I’m hip to how incredibly effective just threatening violence can be, well, I’m asking you to cut it out. Okay?