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Some things just seem too momentous to keep in mind. Squatting on a floe of eight-foot-thick sea ice at the North Pole, drifting on the 14,foot-deep Arctic Ocean hundreds of miles from land, with everything in every direction south and the sun circling the horizon, you absolutely feel you are on a planet.
Another momentous thing we hardly ever think about is the thing we think with: I think about mine now quite a bit, ever since a hot July day in when my eyes started telling me conflicting stories about the nature of the world as I huffed and strained to keep up with my far fitter son running up a steep trail in the woods near my home.
My left eye told me the world was paisley. The right eye insisted all was well. I called out; we returned home.
I took a shower and some aspirin, wondering if I could be having a stroke.
My son drove me to the hospital. By the next morning, it was. The stroke made me confront that critical human operating system in my skull for the first time. Turning to journalism allowed no emotional space for absorbing the jarring reality that the white spots in my brain scan showed I was breakable—that something as basic as dexterity, let alone a long healthy life, was no longer a given.
Fortunately, I recovered fully, but there was no guarantee that would be the case. Reporting on my stroke as a medical and health care problem allowed me to treat it as an intellectual puzzle rather than an emotional crisis—to levitate above my mortality instead of confronting it, deeply feeling it, embracing it.
Some challenges are so grand and momentous that anxiety seems, at best, a waste of time and energy in confronting them. It occurs to me, looking back, that my approach to my stroke parallels, in a strange way, my approach to another almost incomprehensibly large challenge: In essence, we have been learning, as uncomfortably as we navigate puberty, that our only planet is somewhat breakable.
Science can help clarify which is which. With that mix in mind, in both making the most of a finite life and limiting regrets related to global climate change, it seems necessary to integrate two seemingly incompatible traits: I used to think of my reporting as a thousand separate stories.
But I can see, as I age, that it is in fact one story—a single meandering learning journey with more than a few wrong turns, surprises, and reversals, starting with a dancing bivalve and scribbled death threat in the late s.
Charmed into the undersea world by Jacques Cousteau, I was taken by surprise one summer while snorkeling where a small river meets the sea not far from my Rhode Island home.
A bay scallop, trying to evade me, jetted through the sea grass by castanet-clapping its corrugated shells, which were surreally fringed by fleshy curtains flecked with tiny glinting blue eyes.
I quickly moved from embracing nature to defending it. A small patch of woods and fields behind our house remained untouched amid the expanding suburban grid of streets and lawns. Around age fourteen, on one of my regular after-school walks through the trees, I encountered a bulldozer parked in a fresh-cut clearing near my favorite spruce.
I placed a scribbled warning on the seat, something like Whoever chops down this tree will suffer a horrible death. A few decades would pass before I reflected back on that bulldozer encounter and realized I had never considered that a bulldozer, just a few years earlier, had cleared the tract our house occupied.
In high school, a teacher let me and a friend build and refine a crude wave tank in lieu of writing a paper. I loved reshaping the cardboard baffles I taped over an aquarium until the airflow from a fan blew across the water in the tank just right, forming perfect waves breaking on our artificial beach.
The experience helped ignite my interest in science. Finding my path I shifted to journalism after winning a traveling fellowship just before graduation.
Three months in, I ended up studying my own relationship to the sea after encountering a Crew Wanted sign on a pier in Auckland, New Zealand, and signing up as first mate on a circumnavigating home-built sailboat, the Wanderlust.
That journey exposed me to the wonders and ills of a fast-changing world, including the sight of dozens of leopard skins piled on a street corner in Djibouti, at the base of the Red Sea, to entice French Foreign Legionnaires stationed there.
I felt a mix of anger and mission as I photographed the remains of those slaughtered cats, determined to tell their story. Where were they being killed? How could this be tolerated?
A week or so later, riding a strong southerly wind up the Red Sea, we sheltered for a day or so in the lee of an uninhabited island off the coast of Yemen. Hiking to the windblown south-facing shore, I stumbled upon a random assortment of intact light bulbs—presumably cast from passing ships over many years—piled in drifts just above the tide line.
Small inconsequential wounds to the world, building inexorably.Reflective essays describe an event or experience, then analyze the meaning of that experience and what can be learned from it. What makes an essay reflective is that the writer is analyzing a .
College Essay Three. The winter of my seventh grade year, my alcoholic mother entered a psychiatric unit for an attempted suicide. Mom survived, but I would never forget visiting her at the ward or the complete confusion I felt about her attempt to end her life.
Can you imagine having the passion, drive, talent, and focus to labor not only weeks or months, but sometimes years (and often with nominal financial reward), to create something others can pick up, open, ignore, digest, savor, critique, enjoy, and experience in the form of a published book?
COMMUNIQUE #3 Haymarket Issue "I NEED ONLY MENTION in passing that there is a curious reappearance of the Catfish tradition in the popular Godzilla cycle of films which arose after the nuclear chaos unleashed upon Japan.
February When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity. This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of . Antony would like to respond to the article in El Pais yesterday: "I would just like to say that I suspect the translation of my interview was a bit rough, and the artistic statement I made was in reference to myself: "As a transgendered person, I am like a wild animal, beyond the realm of Christians and patriarchies.".