I have a short story up at Storytellers Unplugged.
The youngest ones are down with the latest cold sweeping through the area. Rough night. More coffee, please.
While I was catching up on Storytellers — I like the site’s new look, and I thought Thomas ‘Sully’ Sullivan’s piece one of the month’s highlights — I came again to John Skipp’s October essay, in which he makes a point not unlike an observation from Tom Perotta in my last post, one you can never hear too many times, in too many variations, and of which I’ve been in special need this month in particular:
If you want to live a creative artist’s life, you are gonna take a lot of whacks. And they will whack you hard. It’s a lot like being a boxer of the soul, where the fisticuffs are less physical than mental, emotional, and spiritual.
If you manage to keep from being beaten down, stubbornness is key. But so is resilience: the ability to adapt to the circumstances that actually present themselves, and roll with them. Whether you like it or not.
To be the willow that bends with the wind, AND the rock that never stops being who it is.
This is the best advice I will probably ever give you.
Of course, there’s nothing like going to hear this guy speak and reading about desperate third world poverty in his book to have your own little struggles put so brutally in perspective. Throw in a little discussion about global warming over cocktails while you’re at it, such as the widespread concern about how certain diseases could thrive and travel in increased temperatures. The producer of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, back from a conference of scientists on the subject, was also telling me about potential diseases that could come out of Africa as people build roads to get deeper into the forest to cut down the trees for logging, places where no humans have been before, and the roads bring the hunters, and the hunters come into new kinds of animal-human contact and then bring the results of that contact out into the wider world, including, possibly, a new (or very old) kind of virus that travels from animal to another animal to human, much like the HIV virus mutated from monkey to chimpanzee to human.
Pondering such issues, however, will still leave you time to wonder what kind of deal one of the event’s co-hosts, Sharon Stone, made with the devil to look so amazing at age 49? (And by this I mean she does not have that kind of obvious-plastic-surgery, swollen-lipped, trying-to-turn-back-the-clock-even-though-I’m-not-fooling-anybody kind of look you see all the time on the westside. She looked slender and elegant and fine-boned, drop-dead gorgeous in a sensual yet entirely appropriate black dress. Plus she was wearing cool boots. I want those boots.) I suppose that’s a bit of a problem Ms Stone encounters regularly: she gave a very poised, heartfelt speech, that was less a speech than a dramatic monologue, her head lifted high, and you can barely hear what she’s saying because you’re too busy thinking, What kind of deal…? Sharon, honey, I fear for your soul!…And, uh, how can I strike a deal like that myself?
A notable moment of the night was meeting, however shake-their-hands briefly, Daniel Pearl’s parents, who have started The Pearl Foundation.