We each have a litany of holiday rituals and everyday habits that we hold on to, and we often greet radical innovation with the enthusiasm of a baby meeting a new sitter. We defend against it and - not always, but often enough - reject it. Slowly we adjust, but only if we have to.
Who's counting? It was, of course, the minority who were counting. It always is. Most of the women I know today would dearly like to use their fingers and toes for some activity more enthralling than counting. They have been counting for so long. But the peculiar problem of the new math is that every time we stop adding, somebody starts subtracting. At the very least (the advanced students will understand this) the rate of increase slows. ... The minority members of any group or profession have two answers: They can keep score or they can lose.
I vote because it's what small-d democracy is about. Because there are places where people fight for generations and stand for hours to cast a ballot knowing what we ought to remember: that it makes a difference. Not always a big difference. Not always an immediate difference. But a difference.
I am a member of a small, nearly extinct minority group, a kind of urban lost tribe who insist, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, on the sanctity of being on time. Which is to say that we On-timers are compulsively, unfashionably prompt, that there are only handfuls of us in any given city and, unfortunately, we never seem to have appointments with each other.
What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are. Summer is my period of grace.
Without even knowing it, we are assaulted by a high note of urgency all the time. We end up pacing ourselves to the city rhythm whether or not it's our own. In time we even grow hard of hearing to the rest of the world. Like a violinist stuck next to the timpani, we may lose the ability to hear our own instrument.
The average parent may, for example, plant an artist or fertilize a ballet dancer and end up with a certified public accountant. We cannot train children along chicken wire to make them grow in the right direction. Tying them to stakes is frowned upon, even in Massachusetts.
There is so much more information about the scientific world than there was a generation ago that we have all increased our opportunities for ignorance. There are more things not to know. ... The machinery that we deal with is so much more complex that it is possible to become dysfunctional at a much higher level of performance.
Every thing, even the so-called timesaving device and energy-efficient machine, comes these days with an elaborate set of instructions for its care and feeding. Buying a machine has become more and more like buying a pet. ... We are time-crunched. Not just by the number of things we have to do, but the number of things we have. In the late twentieth century, things have become our new dependents.
The central paradox of motherhood is that while our children become the absolute center of our lives, they must also push us backout in the world.... But motherhood that can narrow our lives can also broaden them. It can make us focus intensely on the moment and invest heavily in the future.
I wonder whether our adoption of Shrink-ese as a second language, the move from religious phrases of judgment to secular words of acceptance, hasn't also produced a moral lobotomy. In the reluctance, the aversion to being judgmental, are we disabled from making any judgments at all?
I am a political recidivist. An incorrigible, repeat voter. A career lever-pusher. My electoral rap sheet is as long as your arm. Over the course of three decades, I have voted for presidents and school board members. I have voted in high hopes and high dudgeon. I have voted in favor of candidates and merely against their opponents. I have voted for propositions written with such complexity that I needed Noam Chomsky to deconstruct their meaning. I have been a single-issue voter and a marginal voter. I have even voted for people who ran unopposed. Hold an election and I'll... Read more »