Thursday, May 14, 2009

gut in the best sense of the word

Spring. Change. Seedlings into blossoms with a few puddles along the way.
I walked out of my cousin's oasis with lightness in my step, along Lorimer Street, past the Sette Pani bakery that smells like Italian cookie heaven and loved the sweet rain. Tonight, warm and wet I remembered the month this fall when I lived there and did this walk every day. Then I came out of the train and walked through Times Square. Where I have been living for the past month. All bright lights and theater and commerce and tourists. I listened to The Walkmen and Sunset Rubdown and Erica and my own head and tried to make some decisions. Fortunately I came upon this article my cousin wrote. It's pretty great I think. And since I bet you are facing some decisions too-- here it is, for you.

Does God Blink? -- From Malcolm Gladwell to St. Ignatius, the science and spirituality of how we decide
by Kate Clancy
Some call it intuition. Divine insight. Animal instinct. God’s Will. Whatever we label this natural ability to tune in to a deeper inner voice, the question remains: How do we develop discernment in the middle of chaos and indecision?

He may not call it the voice of God, but according to pop-sociologist Malcolm Gladwell, best selling author of The Tipping Point, relying on your first gut reaction is a good way to gamble when it comes to making hard decisions.

In his follow-up book about how we make decisions, Blink, Gladwell looks at a team of firefighters interviewed about their decision-making process during moments of emergency. He concludes that when these professionals make decisions — like evacuating their entire team seconds before a burning ceiling collapses — they don’t logically compare all available options. Instead, they draw on impulse and previous training to assess the situation quickly and act.

What Gladwell is driving at, and what has baffled scholars for ages is: How do we decide? His premise, basically, is that we subconsciously process information more quickly and more efficiently than we might think. This leaves a question of context: If we really are evaluating millions of facts very quickly, how can we move toward a more intentional process? .

[click here to read more]

Monday, May 11, 2009

a birthday and a thought

dear reader,
I just want to thank you for reading this. It has now been a little over two years since I've been at this, and though I'm not the most consistent contributor, I am indeed still at it. I love talking to you. At times I feel like you are a trusted friend and/or a curious stranger-- and both have their places in helping me to 'keep coming back.'
With my birthday last week I had the lovely opportunity to assess pretty much all things in my life and celebrate the good stuff, and, inevitably, be a little too hard on my self about the rest of it. In the past month I got to see two old friends, of 10+ years-- and in both instances I caught myself saying lots of "remember the time..." or "oh, that's where..." and they were both stunned by my memory. A great comedian once used the elephant simile on me. [Fascinatingly enough-- I think elephants REALLY DO have AMAZING memories.]
I just put myself through the great experience of reading Daphne Merkin's 8-page memoir on Depression in this week's New York Times Magazine and one line stood out to me quite a bit. In debating whether to use Electro-Convulsive Therapy (today's update of Electro-Shock Therapy) or not Ms. Merkin highlighted the value of her memories. "I may have hated my life, but I valued my memories — even the unhappy ones, paradoxical as that may seem. I lived for the details, and the writer I once was made vivid use of them."
I love writing this blog. I love writing letters, but I especially love writing when I am not conscious of what the 'tone' of the thing should be. Who it's aimed at. What they may or may not want to hear.
It feels very freeing-- like the greatest old friends-- to be able to say whatever is on my mind without recrimination or much potential for misunderstanding.
Thank you for coming back, whoever you are.