As part of America’s culture wars, the Right loves to go bananas over banalities, like the fact that, last week, Hasbro made Mr. Potato Head gender-neutral by dropping the “Mr.”
The only way to demonstrate your commitment to justice is to immediately sever all ties with Mr. Rosenstein, whose actions are diametrically opposed to the values you claim to espouse.
Cool breezes are pressing their feathery cheeks against the sail of my heart, sending me floating towards a horizon that smells of dew infused with flowers. Sunlight, as though poured from a faucet, moistens my skin with its bronze tint. […]
Being a poet, and writing poetry, requires that one be capable of touching the taut, electric rope that connects the valleys and hills of Earth with the horizons and vastness of sky and space, and that one do so without recoiling from the pain or being overwhelmed by the view.
Thinking about certain aspects my job for just a few minutes can induce a feeling of anxiety, a tightening of the chest and quickening of the heart; in contrast, reading a couple pages of a book on physics can release […]
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that were it not for his oratorical skills, Barack Obama would not be president of the United States; before his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention he was a complete unknown on the national stage. In the same vein, it’s hard to imagine the civil rights movement without the soaring rhetoric of Dr. King.
“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”—Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry
For the past few months I’ve been miserable at work and, what’s worse, unable to pinpoint the reason. To be sure, the constant struggle to raise funds and the endless hours seated before a computer screen wading through a sea of tedium expressed in ones and zeros hasn’t helped matters. Yet it has felt like something deeper is at play. After all, it isn’t like the nature of my job has suddenly changed. Sure, the amount I spend with clients has slowly and steadily diminished; and sure, the bigger we get, the more paperwork and reporting there is to do. But I’m not averse to hard work, and I fully understand that social change is about 1 parts warm and fuzzy to 10 parts roll up your sleeves and get shit done.
Yesterday Bianca and I saw the film Interstellar in IMAX. This is not a movie review, but suffice it to say that the stunning images of the planet and the stars, the story of our drive to explore and conquer and survive, reminded me of what has been missing. I am neither an entrepreneur, nor an athlete, activist, Jew, atheist, vegetarian or any number of other adjectives. No, I am a poet and, as such, I need poetry to thrive.
Last night my girlfriend Bianca and I left Montreal, where we had gone for a mini vacation, at around 11 PM. We then drove straight through the night and finally got home and to sleep in time to watch the sunrise at 6 AM. Given that I spent hours staring out a windshield at empty pavement stretching on for mile after mile, I had plenty of time to think, especially about the beauty we sometimes miss when we are exhausted and choose to go to sleep.
Stick with me here. Yes, I was extremely tired. Yes, sitting in a car for that long makes your body stiff and your mind numb. But there was also something gorgeous about that ride. At times a thick fog pelted me with its haze, and the world around me dripped into a puddle of light suspended in front of my car. The mountains of Vermont were like verdant dying embers, a flame that’s fallen asleep to dream pleasant dreams. There was a strident quiet pervading everything, this despite the fact that I was hurling through space at 65 miles per hour.
Finally, my drowsy and groggy mind began to form a question from the silence: If I could go without sleep, would I? How many more books could I read, bike trips could I take, poems could I write, things could I explore? Daylight reveals what is already there, but darkness makes the mysteries of life crawl out from under the rocks. Is it better to sleep and rest, or to stay awake and explore?
You can guess what the poet in me says! But what about the social entrepreneur? I’m not so sure. There’s no doubt that I wasn’t as productive today as I would have been had I had a full night’s rest. Still, maybe we are all too rested and too comfortable. Maybe there is a delicate dance between physical limits–the body needs sleep–and emotional ones–the soul needs mystery. And maybe the way we choose to dance dictates the way we lead our lives and the impact we have on the world.
So what will it be, then? When shall we shut our eyes to dream, and when will we force them open to see what is already there? Perhaps we do neither well enough, for to change the world we must both see things for what they are and dream up new ways for them to be.
Just some thoughts from a sleep-deprived mind.
“When I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.” – Vincent Van Gogh
A mystery consumes me. I pass the morning in ardent search of last night and furrow my brows as though dreams would return in the grooves of my forehead. That is not enough. Nothing is enough. I never can go faster or slower than one second at a time. My enthusiasm teeters between the unbearable and the blissful. I want to scale the heights of human knowledge, to create art, kisses, love, peace…but the next moment carries the enormity of my desire, and I fall upon the ground of my being like an electric charge in a puddle of amino acids. So I continue, neither collapsed nor elevated. Every sight I see, every thought, however subtle, every word I read or write only adds to the fury: nothing is enough.
It is raining out, a beautiful, insistent, driving sort of rain, the kind filmmakers recreate with machines, the kind that cuts through the minutia and inertia of the day so as to call our attention to our surroundings. Each heavy drop of water lands like a thimble upon the rooftops and the treetops of the city, stitching together the distracted minds of its inhabitants into a single web of humanity, stretched tautly over the chasm of injustice. That most are never aware of this web says more about humanity than it does about the rain, whose job is done as precisely and passionately as any employee of any company.
Today on the radio I hear talk of President Obama’s coming speech regarding Afghanistan, of protests in Syria, elections in the Bhutan and unemployment in the US. Sound waves laden with wrongs not yet righted, carrying the words of those that have been slighted, berate my ears with their incessant cry of “wake up!” I reply, meekly at first, then with all the strength I can muster, that everything from my blood vessels to my synapses have arisen, have thrown off the sheets and showered, and still I pause at the door, uncertain, peering out at a landscape transmogrified by precipitation.
I feel feeble in the presence of so much hunger, poverty, corruption and pollution. The injustice hems me in, a kind of negative New York skyline laced with vertigo. In every direction I turn there is work to be done–more work, to be sure, than can fit in my two hands, but even worse, more than my mind, that wonder of physics, can lift with the pulley of ingenuity or the fulcrum of planning. Everything tells me that the rational thing to do is to focus on one thing, conquer that, and move on, but each injustice cajoles me as fervently as the rain forces life to bloom. On my hands and knees in the midst of a deluge of atmosphere and emotion, I cannot choose between reason and passion. The ancient sorrow trapped in my heart like an insect in amethyst can neither be dismissed nor dislodged, and for all my awareness of the intelligent course of action, sorrow has a way of reaching out to sorrow, and love to love, so that I am forever compelled to be that worst of individuals: concerned for all, unfocused, and doomed to defy logic and obey the dictates of a sadness that predates me, my ideas and the injustice against which I fight.