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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Late-evening work, thinking of my wife and boys, and listening to this hauntingly beautiful mix from My Brightest Diamond.

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The perfect conversation for summer on the value of play throughout our lives.

What’s so fascinating is how Dr. Stuart Brown first come to study play — by studying mass murderer Charles Whitman:

"In 1966 when I was just beginning to take over and office as an assistant professor of psychiatry, a young man by the name of Charles Whitman went up to the Texas Tower in Austin, Texas, after killing his wife and mother. He perpetrated what was then the largest mass murder in the history of the United States, killing 17 additional people and wounding 41. And because I had done some studies of violence in the course of my residency in neurology and psychiatry, and because in August in Texas most people who are important are elsewhere, I was put in charge of the behavioral aspect of trying to figure out why Charles Whitman did this horrendous crime. And we brought in the world’s experts to try to figure out the motivation of Charles Whitman, even though he had been killed by vigilante crossfire at the top of the tower.

And so for a very intense period of time, in addition to doing very detailed toxicologic and — studies of his body, we retrieved as much information as possible from his prenatal area all the way up to the last hours before he died. And without going through that entire story, one of the major conclusions, which struck me and has certainly stuck with me since, was that a remarkably systematic suppression of any free play — which was largely the result of his father’s overbearing and intense personality — prevented Charles Whitman from engaging in normal play at virtually any era of his life, including his early infancy.

We thought at the end of the Whitman study that this was such a bizarre aberration in human behavior that it probably was not something one could generalize from. So as a result of the funding available and the availability of research subjects in the prison system in Texas, a team of us then studied all the young murderers whose crime was essentially homicide without their being career criminals, and we did an in-depth study of them, their families, and compared them to as well-matched a control and comparison population as we could. And, lo and behold, we discovered that the majority of them — in fact 90% level — had really bizarre, absent, deficient, seriously deviant play histories.”

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So celebrate your obstacles! Don’t fear them or fight them — flow around them.
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There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
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Wendell Berry, from Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms”

Saw this quoted in Parker Palmer’s excellent reflection on celebrating one’s obstacles.

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The National Women’s Law Center published this clickable map that allows you to see:
The share of minimum wage workers who are women
The next scheduled increase in the minimum wage
Any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature
It looks like my home state of North Dakota has an even split of men and women as minimum wage earners.
~Trent Gilliss, executive editor

The National Women’s Law Center published this clickable map that allows you to see:

  • The share of minimum wage workers who are women
  • The next scheduled increase in the minimum wage
  • Any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature

It looks like my home state of North Dakota has an even split of men and women as minimum wage earners.

~Trent Gilliss, executive editor

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Hatred and non-hatred. Transforming our relationships with our own selves and those we’re at odds with. Most everybody thinks about these things during the day. But how do we do it? How do we work with our outer and inner enemies?

A few months back I picked up a book. The title, Love Our Enemies. It’s quite remarkable because of the friendship of the two authors, Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman. They ground each other in usefulness and big-picture thinking. 

So I pitched them for the podcast. But only as a pairing. It worked. Brilliantly. Listen in and I guarantee they’ll bring you joy and some solutions to breaking the cycle of hurt, anger, and revenge.

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A woodworker installs Doug fir frames in On Being’s new sound studio. Next pieces are car glass canted at off angles. Yay!
(via trentgilliss)

A woodworker installs Doug fir frames in On Being’s new sound studio. Next pieces are car glass canted at off angles. Yay!

(via trentgilliss)

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Wally is the electrician who has wired every square inch of On Being’s new offices on Loring Park. He’s always upbeat, never kvetches, and has a can-do attitude. Take this photo, for example. Here he is on a lift 17 feet in the air changing the location of an electrical box for the third time. (The HVAC installer ran his duct work right over the top of where a pendant light is supposed to hang.) Not a word. Just a slight smile and he forges ahead.
(at On Being on Loring Park)
(via trentgilliss)

Wally is the electrician who has wired every square inch of On Being’s new offices on Loring Park. He’s always upbeat, never kvetches, and has a can-do attitude. Take this photo, for example. Here he is on a lift 17 feet in the air changing the location of an electrical box for the third time. (The HVAC installer ran his duct work right over the top of where a pendant light is supposed to hang.) Not a word. Just a slight smile and he forges ahead.

(at On Being on Loring Park)

(via trentgilliss)

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Wally is the electrician who has wired every square inch of On Being's new offices on Loring Park. He's always upbeat, never kvetches, and has a can-do attitude.
Take this photo, for example. Here he is on a lift 17 feet in the air changing the location of an electrical box for the third time. (The HVAC installer ran his duct work right over the top of where a pendant light is supposed to hang.) Not a word. Just a slight smile and he forges ahead. Deep respect.

Wally is the electrician who has wired every square inch of On Being's new offices on Loring Park. He's always upbeat, never kvetches, and has a can-do attitude.

Take this photo, for example. Here he is on a lift 17 feet in the air changing the location of an electrical box for the third time. (The HVAC installer ran his duct work right over the top of where a pendant light is supposed to hang.) Not a word. Just a slight smile and he forges ahead. Deep respect.

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Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia is what you need on this Saturday morning. He says what so many others are saying nowadays: make mistakes, enjoy the journey, break the rules, make good art. But, he says it better than most, and I believe him.

Often I half-jokingly tell my friends, “Fake ‘til you make it.” So it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite Gaiman nuggets parallels this line of thinking:

"Be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise pretend to be someone who is wise — and then just behave like they would."

~Trent Gilliss

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"When you live in a city like Detroit, it’s not just buildings that have become ruins. It’s that a way of life, a way of thinking has died and something else has been born — a new culture, a new spirit. And I think that’s what you get in Detroit if you are able to look past the ruins. What an opportunity. What a time to be alive."

Here’s a different story about Detroit. With the recent news coverage of its declaration of bankruptcy, we travel to a city of vigor where joyful, passionate people are reimagining work, food, and the very meaning of humanity. Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese-American philosopher and civil rights legend, is the heart and soul of this largely hidden story, which holds lessons for us all.

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Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do

Gary James

During the course of a week, I read so many lovely letters and responses to our public radio program. Oftentimes people extend a simple “thank you” or a humble “this show caught me at the perfect time.” But, we also receive more devoted notes from folks who offer a piece of themselves.

Gary James, a bartender who was born and raised in Jamaica, sent us this lovely essay in response to our interview with poet Christian Wiman:

"I was on the job today getting upset at all that has to be done and trying to find a good station on the radio. Being frustrated with the numerous commercials, I switched to NPR radio where I heard the subject of poetry being discussed.

It got my immediate attention, because I have missed poetry in more ways than I care to admit. I have tried a lot of other ways to generate my inner thoughts in order to inspire myself but, in most cases, I failed miserably. Staying away from poetry was something I did deliberately because I got frustrated with the competitive nature that the genre seems to take on when too many poets are gathered in one room.

But something hit me today here on the job. I guess you could say that my creative juices were flowing. A title came to my mind which read, “Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do.”

The title seems to sum up how I was feeling and it led me to think back on my days of intense writing. I had to ask myself a question, “Do you love writing?” Of course the answer was a resounding yes!

Then the next obvious questions would be, “What is it about writing that I love so much?” I found the answer to not be as obvious as I thought it would be. Poetry has always been my escape.

It came very natural for me and there are those who say when it comes that easy it is not you who manifests the talent but rather it is a gift that is given to you. I have heard stories where people said that they were many gifted people who did not take advantage of their gift and end up losing it. I guess that statement was always in the back of my mind, which I believe held me back somewhat.

Sometimes it takes being away from something to truly appreciate its value, and I am finding this truth to be very pronounced at this point in my life.

As I have stated above that my reason for not getting deeper into poetry was because of the competition. Now that I think about it, that statement may not be entirely true. I have to bear some of the blame. Every artist wants to be recognized for his work, and I am no different. But in trying to please everyone else, I have gone away from the very thing that I truly love.

I miss what this art form meant to me, how the words would magically appear in my head, how I would force myself to come up with the next rhyme, not wanting to move onto the next sentence until the present line matches the previous.

I blame myself for allowing my mind to be distracted from what was important and what gave me the most joy. Writing gives me the power to open closets that I have no business opening. It allows me to tell the stories that were not meant to be heard, and it provides me the ability to do this in a creative way. For that, I am very grateful.

With all this in mind, I have answered my own question, which is to get back to what I love, because that is where true happiness lives.”

This note makes it all worth the doing.

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"We’ve separated the idea of vocation from the fullness of life, and narrowed it to career. This impoverishes women and men.”
~Krista Tippett. Wisdom seeps out of Krista — even through her Twitter feed.
(Photo by Chris JL / Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

"We’ve separated the idea of vocation from the fullness of life, and narrowed it to career. This impoverishes women and men.”

~Krista Tippett. Wisdom seeps out of Krista — even through her Twitter feed.

(Photo by Chris JL / Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

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Never Give Up Doing What You Love
by Karen Albert, guest contributor
This is my dad’s canola field. At 82 he is doing what he loves, taking pride in growing healthy bountiful crops.
All his life he worked a demanding full-time job and farmed at the same time. He is retired from his job now, and some people say he should give up farming too. I say what does age have to do with it? Never quit doing what you love.

Never Give Up Doing What You Love

by Karen Albert, guest contributor

This is my dad’s canola field. At 82 he is doing what he loves, taking pride in growing healthy bountiful crops.

All his life he worked a demanding full-time job and farmed at the same time. He is retired from his job now, and some people say he should give up farming too. I say what does age have to do with it? Never quit doing what you love.

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For the marketer, the freelancer and the entrepreneur, the challenge is to level set, to be comfortable with the undone, with the cycle of never-ending. We were trained to finish our homework, our peas and our chores. Today, we’re never finished, and that’s okay.

It’s a dance, not an endless grind.

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Seth Godin, from his blog entry "Dancing on the edge of finished"

~Krista Tippett, host

Tagged: #work
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