A Farmer Calls the Cows Home; Tagore's Modern Resonance; The Act of Forgetting; A Banjo to Rival Angus; Spirits and the Spirit

Monday, August 18, 2014 - 3:53am

A Farmer Calls the Cows Home; Tagore's Modern Resonance; The Act of Forgetting; A Banjo to Rival Angus; Spirits and the Spirit

by Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss),  Executive Editor / Chief Content Officer

Unexpected joy. This unassuming video requires a bit of patience. At first, it appears that a lone cowboy is having some fun in a lawn chair in the middle of the prairie. But, stick with it. Music always delivers.

The man seated next to Einstein in the photo above is little known to most Westerners. His name: Rabindranath Tagore. He debated the deepest nature of reality with Einstein and he bestowed the title “Mahatma” on Gandhi. But he was also championed by William Butler Yeats and Ezra Pound to become the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. In this exclusive episode we're only posting online, Krista talks to novelist Anita Desai and scholar Andrew Robinson about the modern resonance of Tagore and pulls back the "dusty veils" that have hidden his memory from history.

The author creates kolam drawings on the floor as part of "Honoring Tagore: Sacred Earth" at On Being on Loring Park. Kolams are rice flour designs made each morning by women in southern India as conscious offerings to Mother Earth.

Credit: Courtney Perry

On this note, check out this essay by dancer and choreographer Ranee Ramaswamy. She reflects on the ancestral and the contemporary and how she lives forward the art and imagination of Tagore through the classical tradition of Bharatanatyam.

Two men share a laugh on the street in Toronto.

Credit: Kat Northern Lights Man License: Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Forgetfulness. It's one of those things that creeps in as we age. And then we second-guess ourselves and the root of what went wrong. It can take us to dark places, non? Well, Parker Palmer offers poignant verse from Billy Collins and some good humor on the subject:

"A man about my age was walking down the street when he saw another man approaching. As they got face-to-face, the first man said, 'I'm sorry. I know we've met. But for the life of me, I can't remember your name.' The second man looked at his shoes for a moment. Then he looked up and said, 'How soon do you need to know?'"

In a culture with too few rituals, what role do spirits play in the contemporary rituals of our times? Our new columnist Courtney Martin follows up her debut post with this provocative commentary on our need for ritual, communal moments, and the potential for a true suspension of self. My hope is that Courtney's essay encourages some productive dialogue.Finnish band plays AC/DC's Thunderstruck

Our website was down for a few hours on Wednesday so that we could upgrade the look and feel and functionality. So our Tumblr carried the load with this amazing musical rendition of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck." I can see your eyes rolling... but just give it a chance. It's got a Finnish folk twist (yes) with a mean banjo that'd give Angus Young a run for his money!

I'll sign off with these words from a 96-year-old lady featured in Portraits of Boston, a project by photographer Ivan Velinov being showcased on WBUR:

“I never smoked, and I never had any stress. I was dumb and worked low-level jobs with no responsibility. I worked until I was 84, with two jobs. I worked at an office until five o’clock, and then I went to work as a waitress — it was a happy job, feeding people. Then you take your uniform off, and your job is done. But somebody has to do the stressful jobs, too.

Oh, I’ve made lots of mistakes.

[With education and jobs?]

No, no. With people. And that hurts the most — the things you’ve said to people.”

Me too. Time to say we're sorry. I know I will.

I welcome all your feedback and insights. Reach me at tgilliss@onbeing.org and on Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.
Trent

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Trent Gilliss is executive editor of On Being and chief content officer of Krista Tippett Public Productions. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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