Cheryl Wright-Watkins

49 Added | 6 Magazines | 4 Following | @cw012001 | Keep up with Cheryl Wright-Watkins on Flipboard, a place to see the stories, photos, and updates that matter to you. Flipboard creates a personalized magazine full of everything, from world news to life’s great moments. Download Flipboard for free and search for “Cheryl Wright-Watkins”

A Graphic Cosmogony: Artists Imagine How the Universe Was Born

Humanity’s history of mapping the cosmos is as long as our margin of error in explaining the universe is wide. We have been wrong about so much so often and so staunchly stubborn in admitting our errors. But we have also produced works of immeasurable beauty in giving form to our awe, however …

Books

Why Bees Build Perfect Hexagons

After half a lifetime as a schoolteacher, my grandmother retired and promptly became a beekeeper. I spent large chunks of my childhood observing these extraordinary creatures, but no part of their intricately orchestrated existence mesmerized me more than the tiny, perfect cells of their hives — …

Bees

A Vintage Illustrated Love Letter to Books and How They’re Made

Zen monks in 12th-century China bemoaned books as a perilous distraction to be avoided at all costs, and yet we’ve come to embrace that singular medium of immersive contemplation as one of life’s greatest joys. <i>“A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another,”</i> Rebecca Solnit wrote nine …

Books

Why Not to Put a Raincoat on Your Dog: A Cognitive Scientist Explains the Canine Umwelt

“If we want to understand the life of any animal, we need to know what things are meaningful to it.”<p>In <i>Anna Karenina</i>, Tolstoy’s Levin observes his dog Laska one evening — <i>“she opened her mouth a little, smacked her lips, and settling her sticky lips more comfortably about her old teeth, she sank into</i> …

Anna Karenina

Joan Didion on Driving as Secular Worship and Self-Transcendence

Many years ago, an imaginative campaign for Mini Cooper reframed driving, something drudgerous, as <i>motoring</i>, something joyful. It became an instant success and received every major industry award, including a Cannes Lion. The young creative director who dreamed it up — Steve O’Connell, an old friend …

Literature

The Art of Tough Love: Samuel Beckett Shows You How to Give Constructive Feedback on Your Friends’ Creative Work

If it is the duty of friends to hold up a mirror to one another, as Aristotle believed, and if true friendship is the dual gift of truth and tenderness, as Emerson eloquently argued, then it is a chief task of friendship to hold up a truthful but tender mirror to those things which the friend holds …

Literature

Susan Sontag on the Trouble with Treating Art and Cultural Material as “Content”

“Our task is not to find the maximum amount of content in a work of art… Our task is to cut back content so that we can see the thing at all.”<p><i>“There are no facts, only interpretations,”</i> Nietzsche wrote in his notebook in the late 1880s. Nearly a century later, <b>Susan Sontag</b> (January 16, 1933–December …

The Wisdom of No Escape: Pema Chödrön on Gentleness, the Art of Letting Go, and How to Befriend Your Inner Life

“Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.”<p><b>Pema Chödrön</b> (b. July 14, 1936) — a generous senior teacher in the Buddhist contemplative tradition of Shambhala, ordained Buddhist nun, and prolific author — is one of …

Meditation

How Jane Goodall Turned Her Childhood Dream into Reality: A Sweet Illustrated Story of Purpose and Deep Determination

A heartening testament to the power of undivided intention.<p><i>“One should want only one thing and want it constantly,”</i> young André Gide half-observed, half-resolved in his journal. <i>“Then one is sure of getting it.”</i> More than a century later, Werner Herzog wrote passionately of the “uninvited duty” that …

Literature

The Paradox of Intellectual Promiscuity: Stephen Jay Gould on What Nabokov’s Butterfly Studies Reveal About the Unity of Creativity

“There is no science without fancy, and no art without facts.”<p>The history of human culture is rife with creators hailed as geniuses in one domain who also had a notable but lesser-known talent in another — take, for instance, Richard Feynman’s sketches, J.R.R. Tolkien’s illustrations, Sylvia …

How to Merge Money and Meaning: An Animated Field Guide to Finding Fulfilling Work in the Modern World

The six psychological pillars of a satisfying life.<p><i>“To not have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself,”</i> wrote Charles Bukowski in his magnificent letter of gratitude to the man who helped him quit a soul-sucking day job to become a full-time writer. But …

Charles Bukowski

Peanuts and the Quiet Pain of Childhood: How Charles Schulz Made an Art of Difficult Emotions

“[Charlie Brown] reminded people, as no other cartoon character had, of what it was to be vulnerable, to be small and alone in the universe, to be human — both little and big at the same time.”<p>J.R.R. Tolkien adamantly asserted that there is no such thing as writing “for children” and Neil Gaiman …

To Paint Is to Love Again: Henry Miller on Art, How Hobbies Enrich Us, and Why Good Friends Are Essential for Creative Work

“What sustains the artist is the look of love in the eyes of the beholder. Not money, not the right connections, not exhibitions, not flattering reviews.”<p>One particularly icy winter day not too long ago, I reluctantly retired my bike, took the subway into Manhattan, and gave up my seat to a kindly …

Mary Oliver on What Attention Really Means and Her Moving Eulogy to Her Soul Mate

“Attention without feeling … is only a report.”<p><b>Mary Oliver</b> is one of our era’s most beloved and prolific poets — a sage of wisdom on the craft of poetry and a master of its magic; a woman as unafraid to be witty as she is to wise. For more than forty years, Oliver lived on Cape Cod with the love of …

Literature

Bertrand Russell on the Vital Role of Boredom and “Fruitful Monotony” in the Conquest of Happiness

“A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men… of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers, as though they were cut flowers in a vase.”<p>Between the time Kierkegaard contemplated boredom and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips made his bewitching case for why the capacity …

Bertrand Russell

What to Do When Your Wife Is More Successful than You: Wise Advice from Tchaikovsky’s Father, 150 Years Ahead of Its Time

“Married happiness is based upon mutual respect, and you would no more permit your wife to be a kind of servant, than she would ask you to be her lackey.”<p>Eastern Europe is not exactly a region known for empowering women and promoting gender equality. When I was growing up there in the 1980s, the …

Control, Surrender and the Paradox of Self-Transcendence: Wisdom from a Vintage Scandinavian Children’s Book

“It’s a pity that exciting things always stop happening when you’re not afraid of them anymore and would like to have a little fun.”<p><i>“It is the first thing any one has to learn in order to live,”</i> Henry Miller wrote in comparing the art of living to dance, driven by rhythm into which the dancer must …

Hans Christian Andersen’s Daily Routine

From coffee time to bedtime, via ample walks and a necessary stretch of royal tedium.<p>I have a longstanding fascination with the daily routines of writers — most recently, those of C.S. Lewis, Charles Bukowski, and Anne Truitt — which is, of course, underpinned by an interest in the psychology of …

The Principle of Infinite Pains: Legendary Filmmaker Maya Deren on Cinema, Life, and Her Advice to Aspiring Filmmakers

“The love of life itself… seems to me larger than the loving attention to a life. But, of course, each contains the other…”<p>Russian-born American filmmaker, poet, photographer, choreographer, and critic <b>Maya Deren</b> (April 29, 1917–October 13, 1961) endures as one of humanity’s most significant …

Little Tree: An Uncommonly Beautiful and Subtle Japanese Pop-Up Book about the Cycle of Life

“No one notices such a small presence…”<p>Pop-up books have a singular magic, but even the pioneering vintage “interactive” picture-books of Italian graphic designer Bruno Munari can’t compare to the beauty, subtlety, and exquisite elegance of those by Japanese graphic designer and book artist <b>Katsumi</b> …

Books

Emerson on Talent vs. Character, Our Resistance to Change, and the Key to True Personal Growth

“People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.”<p><i>“Cut short of the floundering and you’ve cut short the possible creative outcomes,”</i> Denise Shekerjian wrote in contemplating the capacity for “staying loose” that many MacArthur geniuses have in common. <i>“Cheat</i> …

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Quiet Book: An Illustrated Love Letter to Life’s Meaningful Pauses

A sweet celebration of the nuanced stillnesses that comprise aliveness.<p><i>“There is the dumb silence of slumber or apathy… the fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul… the silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos,”</i> wrote Paul Goodman in his sublime taxonomy …

How Lewis Carroll’s Rules of Letter-Writing Can Make Email More Civil and Digital Communication Kinder

“If your friend makes a severe remark, either leave it unnoticed, or make your reply distinctly less severe.”<p>I have a friend who writes me wonderful letters. He sends them via email, but they are very much <i>letters</i> — the kind of slow, contemplative correspondence that Virginia Woolf termed “the …

Anne Lamott on How We Endure and Find Meaning in a Crazy World

“The world is always going to be dangerous, and people get badly banged up, but how can there be more meaning than helping one another stand up in a wind and stay warm?”<p>We live in a culture of dividedness and fragmentation of the self. When we contemplate what it takes to live a full life, we extol …

Emily Dickinson

The Absurdity of Infinity: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Explains Whether the Universe Is Infinite or Finite in Letters to Her Mother

“The simpler the insight, the more profound the conclusion.”<p>In 1998, while on the cusp of becoming one of the most significant theoretical cosmologists of our time, mathematician-turned-astrophysicist <b>Janna Levin</b> left her post at Berkeley and moved across the Atlantic for a prestigious position at …

Sloth, Sissiness, and the Search of Self: Young Tolstoy’s Diaries and the Problem of Compulsive Intentional Organization

“This is the entire essence of life: Who are you? What are you?”<p>Some of humanity’s greatest writers championed the creative benefits of keeping a diary, but hardly any literary titan has explored the medium’s spiritual and existential value more intimately than <b>Leo Tolstoy</b> (September 9, …

Literature

Pulitzer-Winning Poet Mark Strand on the Heartbeat of Creative Work and the Artist’s Task to Bear Witness to the Universe

“It’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention.”<p>In the 1996 treasure <b>Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention</b> (<i>public library</i>) — the same invaluable trove of insight that demonstrated why “psychological androgyny” is essential to creative …

Rilke on What It Really Means to Love

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation.”<p>The human journey has always been marked by our quest to understand love in order to reap its fruits. We have captured that ever-shifting understanding in …

Literature

How Playing Music Benefits Your Brain More than Any Other Activity

“Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout.”<p><i>“Each note rubs the others just right, and the instrument shivers with delight. The feeling is unmistakable, intoxicating,”</i> musician Glenn Kurtz wrote in his sublime meditation on the pleasures of practicing, adding: <i>“My attention</i> …

How to Listen Between the Lines: Anna Deavere Smith on the Art of Listening in a Culture of Speaking

“Some people use language as a mask. And some want to create designed language that appears to reveal them but does not.”<p>In his exquisite taxonomy of the nine kinds of silence, Paul Goodman included “the silence of listening to another speak, catching the drift and helping him be clear.” And yet so …

Literature