Thing one: I was overjoyed to learn that — if we can look at the glass half-full for a moment — the damage to Notre-Dame was much more limited than it could have been:
Even though I saw a bunch of disheartening photos of windows missing their glass, CNN reported that all three of the massive rose windows from the 13th century along with many of the other stained glass panels survived the fire. I was sure the glass would all melt away, and I am so happy to know that much of it held out.
The organ was also spared, as was much of the artwork.
Many of the statues had been removed just days before, in preparation for the renovation work, so they weren’t caught in the fire.
A bunch of priceless artifacts were rescued before they were destroyed, including the crown of thorns that means so much to Catholics.
Had the fire reached the towers, the whole thing would have come down soon after. It didn’t, and that seems miraculous.
According to the New York Times, almost 850 million Euros has already been raised towards rebuilding, which seems so fitting for Notre-Dame’s 850 years of history. Some have asked why money can be raised so much more easily for a cathedral in need than for people in need, but I choose to focus on the fact that there is a need and it’s being met. I think that is a wonderful thing.
Thing two: I realized that I had inadvertently already donated to the Notre-Dame rebuilding fund by responding to the World Monuments Fund‘s annual membership call the day before the fire. I gave $45 to become an Explorer-level member (usually $50 but there was a deal during the pledge drive). This means that a. I will receive a yearly magazine about the organization’s fascinating and important work to save and restore humanity’s architectural heritage, and that b. I have contributed to that work. You can, too!
Thing three: I just learned that the 2020 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. will “celebrate (and complicate) connections between Benin, Brazil, and the United States” through an exploration of their voodoo-inflected musical and cultural traditions. You know what that means?! If you can’t bring the girl back to the Vodoun Festival, you can bring the Vodoun festival back to the girl. See you in 2020, D.C.!
Thing four: The day before I left Senegal, I had breakfast with a French-Guinean journalist friend, Sarah. We caught each other up on where our respective lives had led us over the two years since we had last seen each other, and we exchanged our conjectures and semi-formed visions about where the future might take us. At some point we realized that we were both in a similar place of finally enjoying the present moment and accepting that life was not going according to our preconceived plans, but that it was working out really well anyway. Then she casually dropped the pearliest pearl of wisdom: “Life has more imagination than we do.”
I found it so profound and thought that only someone speaking a non-native language could express themselves so poetically in casual conversation. She later told me that she had actually heard the words from a friend many years ago, had held on to them, and had passed them on to me in that very apropos moment. Regardless of who said the words first, I now think of her as a poet-journalist.
I meant to post the quote sooner because I love it so much, but I’m glad I didn’t get around to it until now so that I could apply it to the horror-turned-to-wonder of Notre-Dame surviving a blaze that could have burnt it all down.
I haven’t posted an encouraging quote for awhile but I crossed paths with this one via Brain Pickings a couple of days ago and it seems eminently appropriate for the times we’re living in. To say the zeitgeist has been getting me down is an understatement. I keep coming back to the conviction that community, connection, and love is the only thing that can save me – us – from chaos and despair.
I have been saying it to myself in much less poetic and profound ways than Tennessee Williams does here, though. This is a beautifully wrapped reminder of what it means to be human.
About a year ago I saw a video from the 1979 World Disco Finals in my Facebook feed. During a period in which I was feeling increasingly disappointed in the human race, it cheered (and entertained) me immeasurably. So much so that I shared it on this blog.
The 1980 follow up was just brought to my attention, and it has likewise instilled in me fresh hope in the midst of deep worry and despair. Watch it, forget your cares, and fall back in love with living, guaranteed:
They may not attain the same heights of grandeur as the World Disco Finals, but here are some nevertheless interesting links to go into your weekend with:
I’m not sure whether anxiety and depression are feelings, or mental states that keep you at a distance from your feelings. Regardless, a big old ball of anxiety tinged with despair has been hanging over me like that little Zoloft cloud lately, and every which way I’ve tried to fight it – or not fight it and simply get through it – has failed miserably…
…including posting this quote. Oh well. Maybe it’ll work for you.
(I don’t know whether this rightly belongs in the “inspiration and encouragement” category, but I don’t have one called “let’s all feel like shit together,” so it’ll have to do.)
I just finished the childhood classic, “The Wind in the Willows,” and though its thematic focus is on the comforts of home, of course the quote that called out to me is all about the pleasures of taking off.
I made a decision this week that felt like a huge risk, moving me from a place of relative safety with no future, to a transitional (and incredible) next step without any security or commitment. Even though I feel 100% certain that I did the right thing, I’m still hugely anxious about opening the door to a world of unknowns.
It was in this context that, walking home last night, I stopped short at the sight of two humongous lines of text painted on a brownstone’s living room wall, which I spied through the curtain-less bay window (almost as though it were staged as a message for passersby). In bright white lettering against a dark blue background were the words:
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
It spoke to me in a visceral way – I was not exactly sure what it meant to me but my body responded immediately. I let out a noise halfway between a sob and an exclamation. I may have cocked my head to one side and nodded vehemently to no one in particular. I guess I just needed that affirmation that it’s okay to choose the less clear option when it nevertheless feels right. It’s empowering to think you can be confused and correct at the same time.
When I got home I looked up the line and found that the whole quote is even more apropos to my current situation:
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition.
I love everything about that. It may just become my mantra for the next few months.
I’m sort of cheating since it’s 12:06 on Thursday morning, but let’s just pretend it’s not daylight savings time yet and it’s still hump day for another 54 minutes… Because it’s never too late to be the inspirational quote-poster I want to be.