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Life Lifter (283 posts)
Last Tuesday, when Diana Nyad gave up her quest to swim—without a shark cage—to Cuba at age 62, we all cried. We cried even more when the New York Times reported that Nyad said she had no regrets and that she had concluded that the combination of her injured shoulder and the asthma attack made continuing impossible.
So we moved over to her blog to grieve with her, where her supporters Candace Lyle Hogan and Elaine Lafferty said, "This was always about the importance of reaching beyond your grasp. Of course, a shore-to-shore success would have been nice—it was what Diana wanted, passionately. There’s no sugar coating for that; her disappointment is real. But for her contemporaries whom she so specifically addressed, this was always about the attempt, about the courage to risk wanting anything passionately again—or maybe even for the first time.... "
And we agreed, sobbing over our keyboards (okay, that was just me). Then we stopped. Because, the glory of Nyad's efforts was about her passion and willingness to try, but, geez, it was also about what she accomplished. As one Twitter fan so insightfully pointed out, "[She] 'only' made it halfway to Cuba?"
Fifty-eight miles of open ocean isn't exactly nothing. Which serves as a little reminder: sometimes what we achieve is something other than what we dreamed, but that doesn't mean it's failure.
My toddler has a blue fabric banner that hangs on the wall at home. On the banner is a little bear with a blank face. Below him are little pockets, containing all the different faces you can stick on the blank one: the sad face, the happy face, the silly face, the sick face, the angry face. This is supposed to teach my son about emotions (as if life doesn’t do that already). However, one face is missing: the movie-sad face.
A good movie-sad, as we all know, is totally different than a regular sad—in that you get all that sorrow and grief without having to actually lose or break up with anybody. Movie-sadness will stay with you over time,too, causing you to cry openly, should you remember a certain scene while spacing out a work or should you hear the theme song by accident (The Way We Were? Love Story? Anybody? Everybody?)
A few weeks ago, Scientific American reported on the film clip most used during psychology experiments to inspire tears. The winner...drumrolll...is the final scene in the The Champ. Even thinking about this scene makes me want to cry. I can hear Ricky’s scraped little voice, see an earlier image of his dad carrying a stuffed animal that he won for Ricky at carnival but was unable to give him because of some tragic plot twist that now escapes me since 30 years have passed since I’ve seen the film.
The doctors in charge of selecting the scenes say that finding the right scene is tough: “Some film scenes were rejected because they elicited a mixture of emotions, maybe anger and sadness from a scene depicting an act of injustice, or disgust and amusement from a bathroom comedy gag. The psychologists wanted to be able to produce one predominant, intense emotion [sadness] at a time."
Perhaps they need some help from a woman with absolutely no qualifications save for the ability to weep madly into box of popcorn slathered in butter-flavored oil byproducts.
Check email. Get the new window screens. Pay the $10 co-pay for the emergency room trip last spring. Members' night at the museum (take kids?). Milk, milk, milk.
Mental lint. It drifts around in our brains—all those tiny bits of thought fluff that get in the way of our focusing on the stuff that really matters. How can we reduce these endless, minor to-dos and worries—or even, one day, get rid of them? We asked top productivity experts to give us their 9 most effective strategies.
When the hilarious, heart-warming book Unlikely Friendships came out this month—documenting a rhino and a goat that were best buddies, as well as an orangutan and a tiger cub—we were instantly reminded of very human "odd couples" we've observed at restaurants, befriended on vacation or even been in ourselves. For example, the Cheetah and the Anatolian Shepherd.
The Animal Version: "The dog—calm, loveable, adaptable—helps the cheetah relax and accept unfamiliar situations."
The Human Version: She's the head of a massive real-estate company. He's a carpenter who dabbles in guitar. During dinner at a restaurant, she gets upset about their table and asks the hostess to move them. When it's time to order, she gets the tacos without tortillas and the salad with extra, extra, extra ripe avocado. Then she requests three lemon slices in her water. Meanwhile, he sits there, humming a random tune and playing with his fork.
When her water arrives with two lemon slices, she openly fumes. He smiles very politely at the waiter but asks for the third one, plus gives her his slice from his glass. By now, you might be thinking, "This guy spends his life running around after this woman, cleaning up after her demands. He's the nice one but...maybe kind of a wimp?" Then the tacos arrive with tortillas. A look of outrage and panic crosses the woman's face. She opens her mouth, just as he pats her hand—tenderly but firmly. She shuts her mouth and smiles at him, as if nobody else exists. There it is: the comfort of being reminded that somebody knows who you are...and who you want to be.
Back when I was a little girl in day camp, we used to wrap long strands of multicolored yarn around crossed popsicle sticks. Our counselors called these "god's eyes." I never understood that name. It seemed to me that the craft ought to be called "your counselors are bored teenagers who care very little about art projects."
Thirty years later, I've been tracking the much celebrated Life in A Day film, which opens in theaters this week. Life in Day presents a multi-faceted perspective on the world—created with videos submitted by people across the globe who shot images of their lives on July 24, 2010.
Meanwhile, Good Media recently reported on a very similar project called One Day on Earth. For this film, people from every country on the planet simultaneously captured aspects their lives on October 10, 2010. (You can pre-order it online, or sign up to make your own film on the next upcoming shoot on November 11, 2011.)
I thought back to childhood and that then-mysterious yarn-denoting phrase. I still have no idea what it means in terms of crafts, but in terms of these two films, God's eye is the ideal moniker, because both documentaries let us experience the astonishing, infinite variety of lives being lived all over the planet—as well as reflect the beauty of our own.
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Stephen Colbert breaks character for Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project. [It Gets Better via The Daily What]
* Want to catch a good mood? When Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon reprise their roles as hip-hop chroniclers in "History of Rap, Take 2," their enthusiasm is positively contagious. [Vulture]
* "The magic of the relationship between the baseball field and its beyond is such as to invite the grandest mythical and metaphorical projections."—Herschel Farbman in "Baseball Fans and the Ball in the Stands" [The Awl]
* This old time sling shot is guaranteed to be a hit with any guy who is on good terms with his inner child. [Hicoree's Hard Goods]
* And if you're worried you might eventually regret gifting a weapon that has the potential to destroy both your favorite lamp and your vision, you can still satisfy the boyish curiosity of men and children alike with this neat study about how suits of armor influenced medieval battles. [BBC]
* "In our crucial human capacities to think, to create, to work, to love, I do not see men and women as different."—Robert Olen Butler, author of A Small Hotel, in O's Twitter chat with him.
I wish these friends had been on my cross-country team. It was a small group, and one of my teammates had the name of a cheerleader--and the hunched shoulders and whispery voice of a mathlete. I thought that Buffy needed a nickname that better suited her tentative personality. So I gave her one. My best friend and I always referred to her as Myrtle behind her back. Myrtle had a funky, shuffly gait and breathed heavily.
Myrtle had goals, and one of them was to speed up. The other, I believed, was to beat me. She lifted weights and ran extra laps after practice, and before long, I stopped laughing when I said, "Old Murt was tough to shake today." In races, Myrtle and I were often neck and neck.
I am the crazy lady in pumps racing down the street after work to get home to my kids...only to burst through the door to find them splayed out on on the floor watching Toy Story 3 for the tenth time. The problem: how to have the kind of traditional school-is-out family summer fun--say, a trip to the beach or a monopoly marathon--when you don't have the full day to spend together?
Our solution: Make your fun happen a little faster with some quirky, original, 2-hour projects like....Making A Planetarium Out of a Pringles Can.
Click here to find out how the delightful deed is done, plus discover 41 other unexpected family activities, many involving: watermelons, tarps, grandparents, pajamas, whipped cream, clouds, and mailboxes. Not to mention laughter.
When Claudia Kincaid, heroine of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, grew tired of the injustice of having to both empty the dishwasher and set the table on the same night and bored of the sameness of every week, she devised a plan to break free from the monotony of everything. That plan involved running away from home to hole up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and for many readers of E.L. Konigsberg's 1977 children's classic--I include myself among them--a museum-based slumber party has long represented the ultimate escape fantasy.
I still haven't figured out a way to sleep in a bed that is also an 18th-century work of art, but the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is offering an opportunity Claudia Kincaid would have schlepped across the country for.
Some stories need no introduction. This 2:25-minute-long trip to dreamland (filmed entirely on a Nokia phone) had us at the double brrrring....an alarm going off simultaneously in Paris and New York. You might suspect the ending, but as with any good to romance, that's part of the delicious squeal that utters from your lips during the few final seconds.Watch--and sigh.
Tales of real-life romance.