“A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the word you first thought of. (Burt Bacharach, songwriter)”—As quoted in Book Reporter; appeared in the “Wit & Wisdom” sidebar of The Week: The Week, May 11, 2007, Vol. 7, Issue 309, p. 19.
From the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science & the Arts (LSA) Honors Program website:
The LSA Honors Program is community of individuals who are interested in ideas, discovery, and intellectual and cultural exchange. We seek academically talented students who want to be part of such a community. To help us determine whether you might thrive in the Honors community, respond to one of the following prompts. Your essay should be 500-1000 (please, no more than 1000 words).
Respond to one of the following prompts:
You arrive at one of your classes to find the room/lecture hall unexpectedly empty. In the room you find a potato, a book, and a tube of paint. Why are those things there, what is the connection, and where did everyone go?
Write a letter to the Nobel Prize committee in Sweden nominating your choice for the next recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Your nominee may be from contemporary life or from history, but may not be a Nobel laureate in any field already.
The national election of 2008 was widely regarded as a landmark election. Do you expect the national election of 2012 to be a landmark? Why or why not?
Grumblings, Angry conversations, and Sad, Sad Songs: The Art and Joy of the Lament
I scribbled notes during a session on lament at the Festival of Faith & Writing. If I’d used my laptop, I could feel more certain this was word-for-word (can’t keep up with pen and paper), but this is what I scribbled down.
"Underneath comedy is a lot of pain…I believe in the power of lamenting because a), you get a lot of jokes out of it…but there’s something about giving voice to it that takes away some of its power…lament is part of life on this planet. Adam sinned. That’s, like, in chapter three of the Bible. We’ve had crap rolling around on the planet since chapter three. We might as well acknowledge the reality of that.”
When Susan was unloading some of the pain and heartbreak of her life seven years ago, her writing group pointed out, “But you have great material!”
She replied, “I don’t want great material. I want to be happy!”
And, later, she added, “That’s the power of conflict and pain in our lives—it’s how we grow up.”
“What’s the story you can no longer *not* tell…that has you dying a little inside, failing to move forward? What’s the story only you can tell? If you died tonight…what stories would go with you that you would be sad no one heard—stories the world would be poorer for you not having told them? (Susan E. Isaacs, at the Festival of Faith & Writing 2012)”—
“One ingredient of creativity is open-ended time,” says Ann Lewin, Director of the Capital Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C…
“Children have the capacity to get lost in whatever they’re doing in a way that is much harder for an adult,” she says. “Children need the opportunity to follow their natural inclinations, their own particular talents, to go wherever their proclivities lead them.”
Unfortunately, children are interrupted, torn out of deep concentration; their desire to work something through is frustrated. Lewin explains: “Adults have the compulsion to march through and see everything. But there are hundreds of things that can deeply engross a child here, things they can spend hours with. And you see the adults pulling them away, tugging at them and telling them, ‘Enough, stop it, let’s go.’
“It’s a terribly frustrating thing to be stopped when you’re in the middle of the process. But we live in such a hurry-up way. So again and again children are stipped in the middle of things they love to do. They are scheduled. There isn’t the time for children to relax into their own rhythm. (p. 63)
“We adults are too pressured, too busy. I don’t think our children have enough time—they’re either overorganized or underorganized. You need the chance to stay with an activity for as long as it captivated your imagination, even if it lasts over days or weeks.
“A hurry-up culture means that again and again an adult steps in just at that creative moment when a child is heading toward mastery, and ends it. There are the bells at school, cutting off what you’re doing. There’s the pace of after-school activities. There are parents’ schedules imposed on children’s time. Children are hurried through their lives without the natural rhythm of unfolding. That, more than anything, will stifle creativity.” (p. 64)
The Creative Spirit, by Daniel Goleman, Paul Kaufman, and Michael Ray. PLUME, published by the Penguin Group, Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 10014, First Plume Printing, February 1993; copyright Alvin H. Perlmutter, Inc., 1992.
A companion book to a four-part PBS television series.
(1) Pursue what you love. (2) Do the hardest work first. (3) Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. (4) Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. (5) Take regular renewal breaks. (6) Ritualize practice
Since the beginning of the past century, track-and-field records have fallen in everything from sprints to miles to marathons. The performance arc is clearly rising, but no one knows how much higher it could climb. At some point, even the best-trained body simply has to up and quit. The question is, just where is that point, and is it possible for athletes, trainers and scientists to push it higher?
“Several years ago, the admissions director of an Ivy League university was asked for one or two high school activities that would give an applicant an advantage in being accepted to his institution, if they [sic] were on the waiting list. Without hesitating, he put cross-country at the top of the list. Cross-country runners, he said, have a special type of discipline and are willing to work very hard physically and mentally without receiving recognition. This combination of characteristics produced successful graduates who could handle the pressure-packed university culture.”—