On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright piloted the Wright Flyer on its first flight. He travelled 120 feet over the course of 12 seconds. A little more than 60 years later, Apollo 11 would become the first craft to land on the moon.
More than a hundred years later, we bring down planes instead.
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
We’re sitting at some table, the whole group, or some configuration of the group, at one of those countless tables that we sat around and chattered endlessly, as we came together and played games and shared meals and celebrated birthdays, as we drank wine, argued about politics and had falling outs that didn’t matter even as they were happening. And in this aggregate memory of who knows how many nights over the course of, god, it’s upsetting even to guess how many years, I think of the two of us. Though we’re not sitting beside each other, maybe we’re even at opposite ends of the table. But something has been said, some comment by Laura about a boy of hers, or by Faisal about that dog, that fucking dog of his, and I’ve looked up at you and found you already looking at me, and you roll your eyes and smile.
It’s like lying in bed in a stretch of sunlight on a freshly laundered Sunday morning.
I think of those moments, how we’d hold them between us, until the sling of our gaze would pull apart, and they would drop.
We knew each other’s thoughts without having to speak them. We were just held in the curve of the same wave, and we lived there for years, without ever thinking it was something special. It’s only now that we’ve been carried apart that I realise just how special it was, and I begin to worry that I’ll never have it again