2017-4-21 09:37

Passage 46 When Heaven and Earth Kiss
For my money, a good sunset is the cheapest shot of wonder out there.
Think of it —bursts of incandescent energy that can curl your toes,
warm your soul, and prove cost effective all at the same time.
The iciest hearts on the planet can be thawed by the heaven’s burnished flame.
Countries sitting down for peace talks ought to begin
with a joint viewing of rose-dipped hues and golden halos
merging into growing flowers of light.
And for romance, this daily dose of celestial seduction
is just what the love doctor ordered.
When first meeting the incredible woman who is now my wife,
I quickly caught what Bonnie was about when I asked the age-worn question,
“So, what do you do?“
“I chase sunsets,“ she replied. I was a goner.
I’m not sure if that was the exact moment when I fell in love,
but it was, at least, the start of my descent.
Cut to our honeymoon and one of my favorite settings in the world
—Ireland, the Emerald Isle.
One day we were traveling from the city of Galway toward the Ring of Kerry.
Late in the afternoon we discovered that a boat up ahead
could ferry us across a tributary and save some four hours’ driving time.
I made for the last launch, a mere ten minutes and eighteen kilometers away.
With luck, and no livestock crossings, we would just make it.
All of a sudden Bonnie called out, “Stop!“
Dutifully, I pulled over.
Bonnie pointed to the sky.
It was the sunset.
Not just any sunset.
This clearly was a masterpiece.
Getting out, we drank deep of a heavenly show of amber and golden hues,
rose finger clouds painting the broad canvas of sky.
The bridge would wait another day.
The Ring of Kerry wasn’t going anywhere.
Bonnie and I inhaled the magnificent sunset like ambrosia.
Sunsets, and sunrises for that matter, are gifts served up in plentiful procession.
It’s one of life’s ways of taking a simple pause, marking the day.
If we’re too busy, caught in the whirlwind of our own manufacturing, we miss the magic.
What is required in order to drink the heady miracle of morning or evening light
is a consciousness of how we use the time allotted to us each day.
Pausing for a moment, we willingly open our spirits to the gifts of the universe.
These are indeed the gifts that help make life this good.

Passage 47 Disrupting My Comfort Zone
I was 45 years old when I decided to learn how to surf.
They say that life is tough enough.
But I guess I like to make things difficult on myself, because I do that all the time.
Every day and on purpose.
That's because I believe in disrupting my comfort zone.
When I started out in the entertainment business,
I made a list of people that I thought would be good to me.
Not people who could give me a job or a deal,
but people who could shake me up, teach me something, challenge my ideas about myself and the world.
So I started calling up experts in all kinds of fields.
Some of them were world-famous.
Of course, I didn't know any of these people and none of them knew me.
So when I called these people up to ask them for a meeting,
the response wasn't always friendly.
And even when they agreed to give me some of their time,
the results weren't always what one might describe as pleasant.
Take, for example, Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb.
It took me a year of begging and more begging to get to him to agree to meet with me.
And then what happened? He ridiculed me and insulted me.
But that was okay.
I was hoping to learn something from him—and I did,
even if it was only that I'm not that interesting to a physicist with no taste for our pop culture.
Over the last 30 years, I've produced more than 50 movies and 20 television series.
I'm successful and, in my business, pretty well known.
So why do I continue to subject myself to this sort of thing?
The answer is simple:
Disrupting my comfort zone, bombarding myself with challenging people and situations
—this is the best way that I know to keep growing.
And to paraphrase a biologist I once met,
if you're not growing, you're dying.
So maybe I'm not the best surfer on the north shore, but that's okay.
The discomfort, the uncertainty, the physical and mental challenge that I get from this
—all the things that too many of us spend our time and energy trying to avoid
—they are precisely the things that keep me in the game.

Passage 48 The One Way to Become an Artist
Pupils in all the schools in this country are now exposed to all kinds of temptations
which blunt their feelings.
I constantly feel discouraged in addressing them
because I know not how to tell them boldly what they ought to do,
when I feel how practically difficult it is for them to do it.
If you paint as you ought, and study as you ought,
depend upon it the public will take no notice of you for a long while.
If you study wrongly, and try to draw the attention of the public upon you,
—supposing you to be clever students—you will get swift reward;
but the reward does not come fast when it is sought wisely;
it is always held aloof for a little while;
the right roads of early life are very quiet ones,
hedged in from nearly all help or praise.
But the wrong roads are noisy, —vociferous everywhere with all kinds of demand upon you for art
which is not properly art at all;
and in the various meetings of modern interests, money is to be made in every way;
but art is to be followed only in one way.
Our Schools of Art are confused by the various teaching and various interests
that are now abroad among us.
Everybody is talking about art, and writing about it, and more or less interested in it;
everybody wants art, and there is not art for everybody,
and few who talk know what they are talking about;
thus students are led in all variable ways,
while there is only one way in which they can make steady progress,
for true art is always and will be always one.
Whatever changes may be made in the customs of society,
whatever new machines we may invent, whatever new manufactures we may supply,
Fine Art must remain what it was two thousand years ago, in the days of Phidias;
two thousand years hence, it will be, in all its principles,
and in all its great effects upon the mind of man, just the same.
Observe this that I say, please, carefully, for I mean it to the very utmost.
There is but one right way of doing any given thing required of an artist;
there may be a hundred wrong, deficient, or mannered ways,
but there is only one complete and right way.

Passage 49 Book and Life
Books are to mankind what memory is to the individual.
They contain the history of our race, the discoveries we have made,
the accumulated knowledge and experience of ages;
they picture for us the miracles and beauties of nature, help us in our difficulties,
comfort us in sorrow and in suffering, change hours of weariness into moments of delight,
store our minds with ideas, fill them with good and happy thoughts,
and lift us out of and above ourselves.
Many of those who have had, as we say, all that this world can give,
have yet told us they owed much of their purest happiness to books.
Macaulay had wealth and fame, rank and power,
and yet he tells us in his biography that he owed the happiest hours of his life to books.
He says, “If any one would make me the greatest king that ever lived,
with palaces and gardens and fine dinners, and wines and coaches, and beautiful clothes,
and hundreds of servants, on condition that I should not read books,
I would not be a king;
I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who didn’t love reading.“
Precious and priceless are the blessings which the books scatter around our daily paths.
We walk, in imagination, with the noblest spirits,
through the most solemn and charming regions.
Without stirring from our firesides we may roam to the most remote regions of the earth,
or soar into realms when Spenser's shapes of unearthly beauty flock to meet us,
where Milton's angels peal in our ears the choral hymns of Paradise.
Science, art, literature, philosophy,
—all that man has thought, all that man has done,
—the experience that has been bought with the sufferings of a hundred generations,
—all are garnered up for us in the world of books.

Passage 50 Snow and the Passage of Time
Any snowfall which brings traffic to a standstill
and closes schools takes me back to one particular storm in my youth on the shores of Lake Area.
On that day, schools and stores were closed because of the weather.
What resonates for me is a six-block walk I took with my father from our house to the post office.
He bought me stamps for my recently started stamp collection.
I already had a wild assortment of cancelled stamps from around the world.
He brought me brand-new stamps.
I can retrace the route in my mind, walking on snow-covered sidewalks and streets.
It was unusual to be going for a walk with my father on a weekday and so close to home.
In the following years, I never talked about that walk with him,
I never even thought about it until it appeared to me about a decade ago.
A winter memory now returned to the forefront.
The elderly are said to be in the winter of their lives,
and winter is synonymous with the end of life.
That does not make the winter the Grim Reaper; rather,
it is a time of reflection in those for whom childhood is long gone.
My father died in the summer of 1997.
For me, his final months resembled the patterns of settling in for winter,
a turning inward and slowing down.
In the end, his breath grew shallower until there was just the quiet.
There are emotional powers that accompany the season,
a blanket of white ties the landscape into a continuous and undulating hall.
The curve of hillsides in the foundations of houses all is connected.
The season keeps us indoors.
Our thoughts and feelings turn inward.
I'm visiting Southern California as I write this,
a place where winter expresses itself as rain.
It would be easy to live in a climate where there are no freezing temperatures snow,
but I would still define the shape of the year by winter
as I knew it from my childhood.





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