When Guests Collide; Serendipitous Virality; Angelou's Advice to Us All; Millennials Won't Buy This; Tagore's Joyous Offering

Friday, July 25, 2014 - 5:04am
Photo by Laura Colomé

When Guests Collide; Serendipitous Virality; Angelou's Advice to Us All; Millennials Won't Buy This; Tagore's Joyous Offering

More wise thoughts from Parker Palmer this week on "sharing our loves and doubts" and this powerful poem by Yehuda Amichai.

After reading about my faux pas last week, he graciously offered me a bit of humorous counsel (on Facebook, no less):

"Hey, Trent! Not to worry about your minor typo when you wrote 'dulcimer' instead of 'dulcet.' In a book I published some years ago, I made several references to the Biblical story where — as I tell it — the Devil tries to tempt Jesus to perform the miracle of 'turning bread into stones.' When someone pointed this reversal out to me, and I got past my embarrassment, I thought, 'Hell, that's no miracle. I've done that myself!'"

Joanna Macy and Natalie Batalha with On Being listener Pancho.

How do a NASA scientist working on the Kepler Space Telescope and a translator of Rilke come together in this photo? By way of one of our listeners:

Pancho heard Joanna Macy and I in interviews with @kristatippett and brought us together. Gratitude. @Beingtweets pic.twitter.com/mPDCdrQsku

— Natalie Batalha (@nbatalha) July 18, 2014

This just made my day: two of our listeners' favorite guests brought together in unexpected ways. Makes me think we should create some sort of physical gathering or festival in which we bring together all of our alum — both past guests, listeners, and readers — for a kind of meet cute, if you will, in Loring Park. It'd be a "reunion" of sorts for all the people who have never met but are kindred spirits. What do you think?


"Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something."

Navigating among W.E.B. Du Bois' essays from Darkwater, Dale Mulfinger's Cabinology, and a plethora of science magazines, I happened upon this quotation from Thoreau. I posted it on Tumblr and discovered a few days later that it went viral, being reblogged and liked several thousand times. But by whom? And how? And when? Well, as this graphic reveals, it wasn't until the sixth degree of separation that it really flourished. The influencers? That Kind of Woman, for one. So much to learn!

Maya Angelou laughs at the Harlem Renaissance Day of Commitment in 2004 in New York City.

(Scott Eells / Getty Images.)

As I was showing Lily (senior producer) and Julie (summer intern) this data and some of the quotations we're posting, Lily pulled out her O magazine and read these edifying words from Maya Angelou:

"You don't need another person, place, or thing to make you whole. God already did that. Your job is to know it."

Last September, Krista conducted a panel at The Nantucket Project with two big names in the financial industry: Jeff Walker and Bob Diamond. For The Civil Conversations Project, we've produced excerpts of this audio and crafted some conversation starters. We hope you'll use them in your own conversations on ethics and economic life. If you do, will you share your experience with us? Email me at tgilliss@onbeing.org.

Rather than a favorite Instagram to end this newsletter, I'll offer this fascinating article by Jacob Davidson for Money magazine, "Ten Things Millennials Won't Spend Money On":

1.  Pay TV
2.  Investments
3.  Mass-market beer
4.  Cars
5.  Homes
6.  Bulk warehouse club goods
7.  Weddings
8.  Children
9.  Health insurance
10.  Anything you tell them to buy

You must read the details to truly appreciate this list. It offers a lot of hope, and a better understanding of the next great generation.

(Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images.)

Oh, but wait, how could I not share this joyous scene paired with the words of Rabindranath Tagore:

"Joy is everywhere; it is in the earth’s green covering of grass; in the blue serenity of the sky; in the reckless exuberance of spring; in the severe abstinence of grey winter; in the living flesh that animates our bodily frame; in the perfect poise of the human figure, noble and upright; in living; in the exercise of all our powers; in the acquisition of knowledge; in fighting evils; in dying for gains we never can share. Joy is there everywhere."

Reach out to me with any questions, criticisms, or contributions you may have. I'm on email at tgilliss@onbeing.org and Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.


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Trent Gilliss

is the cofounder of On Being / KTPP and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. 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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I just recently began reading these blog posts online after listening to On Being via Podcast. I find these articles as a great addition to the literature of 'how to live' or should I say 'how to live better.' I just wanted to quickly comment on the "Ten Things Millennials Won't Spend Money On" as it personally struck a cord for me.

As a millennial I can pretty much relate to all of these items except a few. I'm 24 with a wife and one-month old. I guess I've broke the mold pretty good doing those two things fairly early in life. I believe the decision of getting married young was instilled in me while growing up - my mom and dad were married at 19 and 23 respectively and had me a year later.

Although my wife and I planned on waiting a year before thinking about having children (our first anniversary is this August by the way) it turned out the universe had much different plans. After three months when we found out we were pregnant I lost my job and with a BA in Communications and no real dept weighing me down, dreams of owning a home are still far out of reach since finding a job is harder still along with having no credit... I currently work nightshift for a dairy as a delivery driver and it's not exactly living the dream or something I think of as a career; what is more, it barely get's my young family by.

Health insurance? The one perk about the dairy are the health benefits, but with the new health-care laws I didn't have much of a choice but to subscribe as the penalty taxes would be more expensive than the plan itself . . .

As for owning a car, well my parents bought us a Mercury as a wedding gift otherwise I really don't know how I'd be affording a car payment right now since my wife also stays at home; something we both would prefer as we plan to homeschool our daughter along with our future children we also plan to have.

From what I keep hearing about my generation I'm both really excited about being a part of something great, yet at the same time it can be really easy to get discouraged as it's a hard time for all of us right now...

Anyway, I'm hoping things get better in the next 10 years and I hope even more so that my daughter's generation can get a better leg up their time around. Granted I was able to go to school on a trust fund my great grandfather set up for me and my six siblings, it's still hard when I still don't have much training, experience, or further education to compete in an employer's market.

Anyway, thanks for the post. I look forward to reading more!

Trent Gilliss's picture

Robert, thank you deeply for sharing a bit of your experience. I'm a Gen X-er and 20 years your senior, I guess, but recall those years with a great deal of clarity. My wife and I got married in our early 20s too and have been married for nearly 17 years now. These are not easy financial times for many your age, but being married with a child makes it all the more challenging -- and rewarding.

After I received my undergrad, I worked many a job to make ends meet while my wife attended college and graduate school. I drove a Zamboni and cleaned an ice rink, waited tables, and worked the night shift at a home for disadvantaged children. I tell you all this not as a confessional but as a time that I remember with much of the angst of which you speak. I'm here to tell you that you will do well. Things will get better -- not always easier, but more clarifying.

Your dairy job may not seem like a career path. I understand that completely. It is though. All of your jobs and your paths are footings you are pouring for your future self -- and your growing family. It is stressful and it builds character that is often hard to find in many job applicants. You are doing what needs to be done. That is noble. When you are 20 years older, you will find yourself reflecting on a skill or a behavior that was developed through this position and all your subsequent ones. You will get discouraged, and you should, because that is the yearning inside you. Let your intuition drive you and nourish you; let necessity and obligation drive you too.

Ambiguity and uncertainty can be allies to you during this time. They offer themselves up as teachers in relinquishing control and discovering opportunity. When serendipity takes root, you will find yourself doing and accomplishing things of which you never dreamed. Look for the unexpected openings. They will be there. As Robert Bondi once said, "Sometimes you just have to show up."

I'm heartened by your generation's gifts. I'm heartened by your note. And please know that you will have a wonderfully messy life with a daughter and a wife that will center and ground you during these trying times. I forget that myself sometimes, but they always remind me. And your family will too.

I am a 70 yr old baby boomer, and read every word of these two posts with great interest and empathy. Your response to Roberts situation, Trent, was so wise and true. Each generation has it's own way of facing 'ambiguity and uncertainty' but the result of doing such, really facing them, is life-giving and so fully human. Easy living, where everything falls neatly in place is rarely, if ever, satisfying. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Thank you for a great morning !! Wow!!... Your heartfelt advice to a co listener has made my day !! What a hopeful and kind spirit you gave... I love you for your words...

we need to create an annual space for this. i know nyc would adore live on being happenings.

Trent Gilliss's picture

Fabulous. What do you think of the framing as a sort of reunion?

Where's the post on "Tagore's Joyous Offering?" promised in the headline? Tagore deserves further exposure.....

Trent Gilliss's picture

Hi Ernie. At the very end of the post, there's a photo of a nun with a quotation of Tagore's following. On August 7th, the anniversary of his death, we will be releasing a podcast and a website devoted to Mr. Tagore's spiritual legacy. Stay tuned!