zimmythegeek in reply to MollieCue: MollieCue, long-distance running is the one sport where you don't need talent or coordination. You just show up every day and push your boundaries a little bit farther, and soon enough, you can run marathons.
zimmythegeek: When he was 40, the renowned Bohemian novelist and short story writer Franz Kafka, who never married and had no children, was strolling through Steglitz Park in Berlin, when he chanced upon a young girl crying because she had lost her favorite doll. She and Kafka looked for the doll without success. Kafka told her to meet him there the next day and they would look again.
The next day, when they still had not found the doll, Kafka gave the girl a letter written by the doll that said, “Please do not cry. I have gone on a trip to see the world. I'm going to write to you about my adventures."
When they would meet, Kafka read aloud his carefully composed letters of adventures and conversations about the beloved doll, which the girl found enchanting. Finally, Kafka read her a letter of the story that brought the doll back to Berlin, and he then gave her a doll he had purchased. “This does not look at all like my doll," she said. Kafka handed her another letter that explained, “My trips, they have changed me." The girl hugged the new doll and took it home with her.
A year later, Kafka died.
Many years later, the now grown-up girl found a letter tucked into an unnoticed crevice in the doll. The tiny letter, signed by Kafka, said, “Everything you love is very likely to be lost, but in the end, love will return in a different way."
zimmythegeek: I miss living downtown. This is what the park where I walked my dog looks like in the spring.
zimmythegeek: A few years ago I and my fellow workers led a team of some of our older students in training for Philadelphia's ten-mile Broad Street Run. From left to right: Lindsay, Angel, Antoinette, and Elvire. I have some beautiful coworkers, no?
zimmythegeek: From the Philadelphia Triathlon, maybe ten years ago. L to R: I forget her name dammit, super nice woman, my partner in crime Jeff, Toni, Toni's son, Alina, Unai, Jim, Jeff our Controller, my boss Monika, and yours truly. I never noticed this before, but why does Monika have the same race number on her arm and leg as I do hanging from my waist?
zimmythegeek: Vladimir Nabokov's novel "Pnin" is the story of a Russian émigré professor living in America, and this passage always knocks the wind out of me. This is why he is my favorite writer:
"Pnin told Madam Shpolyanski he would follow her in a minute, and after she had gone he continued to sit in the first dusk of the arbour, his hands clasped on the croquet mallet he still held....
Timofey Pnin was again the clumsy, shy, obstinate, eighteen-year-old boy, waiting in the dark for Mira - and despite the fact that logical thought put electric bulbs into the kerosene lamps and reshuffled the people, turning them into ageing émigrés and securely, hopelessly, forever wire-netting the lighted porch, my poor Pnin, with hallucinatory sharpness, imagined Mira slipping out of there into the garden and coming toward him among tall tobacco flowers whose dull white mingled in the dark with that of her frock. This feeling coincided somehow with the sense of diffusion and dilation within his chest. Gently he laid his mallet aside and, to dissipate the anguish, started walking away from the house, through the silent pine grove. From a car which was parked near the garden tool house and which contained presumably at least two of his fellow guests' children, there issued a steady trickle of radio music.
'Jazz, jazz, they always must have their jazz, those youngsters,' muttered Pnin to himself, and turned into the path that led to the forest and river. He remembered the fads of his and Mira's youth, the amateur theatricals, the gipsy ballads, the passion she had for photography. Where were they now, those artistic snapshots she used to take - pets, clouds, flowers, an April glade with shadows of birches on wet-sugar snow, soldiers posturing on the roof of a box-car, a sunset skyline, a hand holding a book? He remembered the last day they had met, on the Neva embankment in Petrograd, and the tears, and the stars, and the warm rose-red silk lining of her karakul muff. The Civil War of 1918-22 separated them: history broke their engagement. Timofey wandered southward, to join briefly the ranks of Denikin's army, while Mira's family escaped from the Bolsheviks to Sweden and then settled down in Germany, where eventually she married a fur dealer of Russian extraction. Sometime in the early thirties, Pnin, by then married too, accompanied his wife to Berlin, where she wished to attend a congress of psychotherapists, and one night, at a Russian restaurant on the Kurfstendamm, he saw Mira again. They exchanged a few words, she smiled at him in the remembered fashion, from under her dark brows, with that bashful slyness of hers; and the contour of her prominent cheekbones, and the elongated eyes, and the slenderness of arm and ankle were unchanged, were immortal, and then she joined her husband who was getting his overcoat at the cloakroom, and that was all - but the pang of tenderness remained, akin to the vibrating outline of verses you know you know but cannot recall.
What chatty Madam Shpolyanski mentioned had conjured up Mira's image with unusual force. This was disturbing. Only in the detachment of an incurable complaint, in the sanity of near death, could one cope with this for a moment. In order to exist rationally, Pnin had taught himself, during the last ten years, never to remember Mira Belochkin - not because, in itself, the evocation of a youthful love affair, banal and brief, threatened his peace of mind...but because, if one were quite sincere with oneself, no conscience, and hence no consciousness, could be expected to subsist in a world where such things as Mira's death were possible. One had to forget - because one could not live with the thought that this graceful, fragile, tender young woman with those eyes, that smile, those gardens and snows in the background, had been brought in a cattle car to an extermination camp and killed by an injection of phenol into the heart, into the gentle heart one had heard beating under one's lips in the dusk of the past. And since the exact form of her death had not been recorded, Mira kept dying a great number of deaths in one's mind, and undergoing a great number of resurrections, only to die again and again, led away by a trained nurse, inoculated with filth, tetanus bacilli, broken glass, gassed in a sham shower-bath with prussic acid, burned alive in a pit on a gasoline-soaked pile of beechwood. According to the investigator Pnin had happened to talk to in Washington, the only certain thing was that being too weak to work (though still smiling, still able to help other Jewish women), she was selected to die and was cremated only a few days after her arrival in Buchenwald, in the beautifully wooded Grosser Ettersberg, as the region is resoundingly called....
Pnin slowly walked under the solemn pines. The sky was dying. He did not believe in an autocratic God. He did believe, dimly, in a democracy of ghosts. The souls of the dead, perhaps, formed committees, and these, in continuous session, attended to the destinies of the quick.
The mosquitoes were getting bothersome. Time for tea."
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zimmythegeek: Every person is in 3D. Nature is a cruel experimenter with variation. The variation is beyond our understanding. In trying to comprehend ourselves, we come up with 2D slices of ideology to try to explain patterns that we see. Then we write and read books about it. Eventually ideologies fail not because they are necessarily worthless, but because of their limitations. Staying open-minded and creating a tapestry of ideologies loosely sewn together can help a person make sense of what may be otherwise overwhelming. Everyone's tapestry is bound to be different. The problem with ideologies is their marriage to certainty. Beware of certainty. If you can understand a theory but not expect it to be the final answer, you can remain flexible and open to other points of view that also have value. They may even seem to contradict each other. Leave some room for uncertainty while knowing it goes against our nature. It's the irony of nature.
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