Essays

The leaves are falling, falling as from far,
as though the orchards were dying high in space;
they fall with a denying attitude.

And night by night, down into solitude,
the heavy earth falls far from every star.

We are all falling. This hand’s falling too –
all have this falling sickness. None withstands.

And yet there’s One with gently-holding hands –
this universal falling can’t fall through.

–Rilke

 On Belonging

“…I’d been stricken down with some mystery of modern science that no specialist could even identify, let alone treat. Frustrated, enraged, baffled, I wondered: with whom did the fault for my unfortunate illness lie? Was it the Western medical establishment? Was it the fault of the whole of modern industrial society? Or did that insidious, infuriating fault begin and end solely with me? The answer seemed as though none of them, or perhaps all of them. It didn’t matter. The details of my misfortune were of no consequence compared with the fact that it simply existed and that it was my burden alone to carry. And soon, once I learned to detach the selfish wants and desires of my own ego, I realized that my illness didn’t need to be a curse; perhaps it was the greatest gift I would ever receive…”

Thoughts on Education on the Outset of Life

“…I’m just as interested in Calculus and Number Theory as I am in John Donne and William Faulkner, and I find supply-side economics just as fascinating as string theory… Few have the temerity to assert that all knowledge is actually a single, unified whole, that what a farm boy learns butchering hogs will help him as a president abolishing slavery, or that our most advanced scientific concepts are so esoteric they can only be expressed in simple poetry…”

Solitude in the Writing Life

“…solitude became a difficult thing to maintain when I left high school and moved onto the top floor of a nine-story college dormitory with a thousand other freshmen. With walls rumbling with the sonic disturbances of grungy guitar amplifiers and soccer balls bouncing in the halls, quieting my thoughts was difficult…. I knew, as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke did, that “your solitude will be a hold and home for you even amid very unfamiliar conditions and from there you will find all your ways…”


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