Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some resolutions for the coming year

Have more courage; use my time more productively and meaningfully; worry less; meet any adversity with confidence, faith and resolve.

Have a happy, healthy, lovely, and successful New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yes it was uplifting...

And silly, and lovely, and absurd. Also really funny at times. Nudging you in the ribs a little - reminding you of life's possibilities.

Up, a great movie to watch on a winter evening with friends.

And some things that came to mind after it was over, when I was humming the theme music and feeling happy:

- Day to day life can be an adventure too

- You're not too old to have one (both an adventure and a day to day life)

- Don't shut yourself away from the world and other people

- Letting go is a poignant, painful but often necessary part of growing older

- Dream, don't stop dreaming, no matter where you are and what you can do about those dreams

- Have some balloons around; you never know when they'll come in handy

- Assist the elderly

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Of fire alarms in the middle of the night

My apartment building has a building-wide fire alarm system. Management routinely tests this fire alarm system. Said system repeatedly malfunctions, going off with no provocation at all. It sounds like a shrieking chorus of colossal crickets. Crickets that crop up at all hours of the day (or night), including 1:00 a.m., when you're sleeping and it's snowing outside and really all you want is to remain curled up in bed, but that alarm is relentless, and you need to escape.

So it's good to think of the positives. I appreciate that there isn't an actual emergency. I appreciate my bed more, and my blankets. I like how it's a bonding experience for the people in my building - standing outside on a snowy street, in pajamas and enormous coats. How there's beauty in the nighttime with snow falling, a kind of secret quietness to it (because really snow is something that tends to surprise you the next morning, as if it appeared suddenly and not after a night's quiet work).

So glad to be back in bed now though.

(Trying not to think of the safety implications of a fire alarm system that sounds repeated false alarms.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mozart urges love

Mozart. Digital ID: 1407559. New York Public Library

The following quote is attributed to Mozart:

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

What do you think, about love being the soul of genius?

What's this love that Mozart refers to - a love of what one does, a passion for it, a commitment to it that defies other considerations?

A love of life as well, and one's place in this world? A love of self and others, or perhaps a love of self at the expense of others (considering that geniuses are not always known for their kind and unselfish natures).

What do you do in life, that you love? And why do you love it?

(The words "love, love, love" also brought to mind the lyrics of "All You Need Is Love" and the thought that maybe The Beatles were inspired by this quote... or maybe not... I've had that song stuck in my head lately, courtesy of a Beatles-loving friend who sang it twice through while drunk.)

It's not that love is all you need... only that without it, your talents and gifts won't attain their fullest breadth, that there'll be something hollow and lacking in your endeavors. And you could also feel all the love there is to feel and not be a genius - but then, at least you'll have that love, that sense of joy and richness and possibility, and you'll take pleasure in whatever you can do with your life and your abilities; that's a kind of genius in and of itself.


A video of Gabrielle Chou, from the Youtube Channel "KidMusician"; she's playing the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 8:

and here, a piece she composed as an homage to Chopin, played with feeling and skill:

As Mozart well knew, this kind of love can appear at a young age too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Smokers a century ago...

... could find flag girls among their cigarettes.

America, golden and brisk:

America. Digital ID: 1572051. New York Public Library

Buxom Belgium:

Belgium. Digital ID: 1572055. New York Public Library

Greece, as graceful as one of the three graces (or nine muses):

Greece. Digital ID: 1572163. New York Public Library

Saucy Italy:

Italy. Digital ID: 1572079. New York Public Library

Japan, cautious and coy:

Japan. Digital ID: 1572081. New York Public Library

Proud Portugal:

Portugal. Digital ID: 1572229. New York Public Library

Abyssinia, in her lovely unfurling colors:

Abyssinia. Digital ID: 1572175. New York Public Library

Lots more at the NYPL digital archives (from Poland to India to Montenegro), as part of their collection of Cigarette Cards.