Between Mathematics and the Miraculous: The Stunning Pendulum Drawings of Swiss Healer and Artist Emma Kunz

Emma Kunz (May 23, 1892–January 16, 1963) was forty-six and the world was aflame with war when she became an artist. She had worked at a knitting factory and as a housekeeper. She had written poetry, publishing a collection titled Life in the interlude between the two World Wars. … | Continue reading | 20 hours ago

The New Science of Plant Intelligence and the Mystery of What Makes a Mind

"Every thought that has ever passed through your brain was made possible by plants." | Continue reading | 2 days ago

No One You Love Is Ever Dead: Hemingway on the Most Devastating of Losses and the Meaning of Life

"We must live it, now, a day at a time and be very careful not to hurt each other." | Continue reading | 5 days ago

The Messiah in the Mountain: Darwin on Wonder and the Spirituality of Nature

Here we are, matter yearning for meaning, each of us a fragile constellation of chemistry and chance hurtling through a cold cosmos that has no accord for our wishes, takes no interest in our dreams. “I can’t but believe that all that majesty and all that beauty, those fated and … | Continue reading | 7 days ago

On Giving Up: Adam Phillips on Knowing What You Want, the Art of Self-Revision, and the Courage to Change Your Mind

"Not being able to give up is not to be able to allow for loss, for vulnerability; not to be able to allow for the passing of time, and the revisions it brings." | Continue reading | 9 days ago

John Gardner on the Key to Self-Renewal Across Life and the Art of Making Rather Than Finding Meaning

"The potentialities you develop to the full come as the result of an interplay between you and life's challenges." | Continue reading | 11 days ago

Nothing: The Illustrated Story of How John Cage Revolutionized Music Through Silence

"We make our lives by what we love." | Continue reading | 13 days ago

What It’s Like to Be a Falcon: The Peregrine as a Portal to a Way of Seeing and a State of Being

"You cannot know what freedom means till you have seen a peregrine loosed into the warm spring sky to roam at will through all the far provinces of light." | Continue reading | 17 days ago

Flowers for Things I Don’t Know How to Say: A Tender Painted Lexicon of Consolation and Connection

“To be a Flower is profound Responsibility,” Emily Dickinson wrote. From the moment she pressed the first wildflower into her astonishing teenage herbarium until the moment Susan pinned a violet to her alabaster chest in the casket, she filled her poems with flowers and made of t … | Continue reading | 18 days ago

Nature’s Oldest Mandolin: The Poetic Science of How Cicadas Sing

“The use of music,” Richard Powers wrote, “is to remind us how short a time we have a body” — a truth nowhere more bittersweet than in the creature whose body is the oldest unchanged musical instrument on Earth: a tiny mandolin silent for most of its existence, then sonorous with … | Continue reading | 21 days ago

The Work of Art: Inside the Creative Process of Beloved Artists, Poets, Musicians, and Other Makes of Meaning

“The true artist,” Beethoven wrote in his touching letter of advice to a young girl aspiring to be an artist, “is sad not to have reached that point to which his better genius only appears as a distant, guiding sun.” The choreographer Martha Graham called this particular shade of … | Continue reading | 26 days ago

The Universe in Verse Book

"We need science to help us meet reality on its own terms, and we need poetry to help us broaden and deepen the terms on which we meet ourselves and each other. At the crossing point of the two we may find a way of clarifying our experience and of sanctifying it." | Continue reading | 26 days ago

The Wild Iris: Louise Glück on the Door at the End of Your Suffering

"Whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice." | Continue reading | 27 days ago

The Paradise Notebooks: A Poet and a Geologist’s Love Letter to Life Lensed Through a Mountain

"Each world bears all the worlds we might find within it. If you understand one outcropping of stone, or one wildflower, or one hummingbird — if we see our way along the tracery of cause and effect, the mystery of change and recreation — then we are led to everything we see, and … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

How to Tell Love from Desire: José Ortega y Gasset on the Chronic Confusions of Our Longing

"Loving is perennial vivification... a centrifugal act of the soul in constant flux that goes toward the object and envelops it in warm corroboration, uniting us with it and positively affirming its being." | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The Merger Self, the Seeker Self, and the Lifelong Challenge of Balancing Intimacy and Independence

Each time I see a sparrow inside an airport, I am seized with tenderness for the bird, for living so acutely and concretely a paradox that haunts our human lives in myriad guises — the difficulty of discerning comfort from entrapment, freedom from peril. It is a paradox rooted in … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Facts about the Moon: Dorianne Laux’s Stunning Poem about Bearing Our Human Losses When Even the Moon Is Leaving Us

“Hearing the rising tide,” Rachel Carson wrote in her poetic meditation on the ocean and the meaning of life, “there are echoes of past and future: of the flow of time, obliterating yet containing all that has gone before… of the stream of life, flowing as inexorably as any ocean … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Shame and the Secret Chambers of the Self: Pioneering Sociologist and Philosopher Helen Merrell Lynd on the Uncomfortable Path to Wholeness

"Experiences of shame throw a flooding light on what and who we are and what the world we live in is." | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: Uncommonly Lovely Invented Words for What We Feel but Cannot Name

"Despite what dictionaries would have us believe, this world is still mostly undefined." | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Home: An Illustrated Celebration of the Genius and Wonder of Animal Dwellings

“There’s no place like home,” Dorothy sighs in The Wizard of Oz. But home is not a place — it is a locus of longing, always haunted by our existential homelessness. “Welcome home!” a cheaply suited broker once exclaimed at me, swinging open the door to a tiny studio as my foot fe … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

The Parts We Live With: D.H. Lawrence and the Yearning for Living Unison

"We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos." | Continue reading | 1 month ago

But We Had Music: Nick Cave Reads an Animated Poem about Black Holes, Eternity, and How to Bear Our Lives

How, knowing that even the universe is dying, do we bear our lives? Most readily, through friendship, through connection, through co-creating the world we want to live in for the brief time we have together on this lonely, perfect planet. The seventh annual The Universe in Verse … | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Marie Howe’s Stunning Hymn of Humanity, Animated

"It began as an almost inaudible hum..." | Continue reading | 1 month ago

William James on Love

"If it comes, it comes; if it does not come, no process of reasoning can force it. Yet it transforms the value of the creature loved." | Continue reading | 1 month ago

Between Psyche and Cyborg: Carl Jung’s Legacy and the Countercultural Courage to Reclaim the Deeply Human in a Posthuman Age

"A reanimated world is one in which spirit and matter are not just equally regarded but recognized as mutually dependent." | Continue reading | 1 month ago

An Ecology of Intimacies

At its best, an intimate relationship is a symbiote of mutual nourishment — a portable ecosystem of interdependent growth, undergirded by a mycelial web of trust and tenderness. One is profoundly changed by it and yet becomes more purely oneself as projections give way to presenc … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Love Anyway

You know that the price of life is death, that the price of love is loss, and still you watch the golden afternoon light fall on a face you love, knowing that the light will soon fade, knowing that the loving face too will one day fade to indifference or bone, and you love anyway … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Awakened Cosmos: Poetry as Spiritual Practice

"Poetry is the cosmos awakened to itself." | Continue reading | 2 months ago

We Are Free to Change the World: Hannah Arendt, the Power of Defiant Goodwill, and the Art of Beginning Afresh

"It is when the experience of powerlessness is at its most acute, when history seems at its most bleak, that the determination to think like a human being, creatively, courageously, and complicatedly, matters the most." | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Something About the Sky: Rachel Carson’s Lost Serenade to the Science of the Clouds, Found and Illustrated by Artist Nikki McClure

A version of this essay appeared in The New York Times Book Review. A cloud is a spell against indifference, an emblem of the water cycle that makes this planet a living world capable of trees and tenderness, a great cosmic gasp at the improbability that such a world exists, that … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

George Saunders on How to Live an Unregretting Life

"At the end of my life, I know I won’t be wishing I’d held more back, been less effusive, more often stood on ceremony, forgiven less, spent more days oblivious to the secret wishes and fears of the people around me." | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Cordyceps, the Carpenter Ant, and the Boundaries of the Self: The Strange Science of Zombie Fungi

"It is likely that fungi have been manipulating animal minds for much of the time that there have been minds to manipulate." | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Moonlight and the Magic of the Unnecessary

Every night, for every human being that ever was and ever will be, the Moon rises to remind us how improbably lucky we are, each of its craters a monument of the odds we prevailed against to exist, a reliquary of the violent collisions that forged our rocky planet lush with life … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

The Middle Passage: A Jungian Field Guide to Finding Meaning and Transformation in Midlife

"Our task at midlife is to be strong enough to relinquish the ego-urgencies of the first half and open ourselves to a greater wonder." | Continue reading | 2 months ago

The Ecstasy of Eternity: Richard Jefferies on Time and Self-Transcendence

This is the great paradox: that human life, lived between the time of starlings and the time of stars, is made meaningful entirely inside the self, but the self is a mirage of the mind, a figment of cohesion that makes the chaos and transience bearable. A few times a lifetime, if … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

The Other Significant Others: Living and Loving Outside the Confines of Conventional Friendship and Compulsory Coupledom

"While we weaken friendships by expecting too little of them, we undermine romantic relationships by expecting too much of them." | Continue reading | 2 months ago

Jonathan Franzen on How to Write About Nature, with a Side of Rachel Carson and Alice in Wonderland

I grew up loving Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. My grandmother read it to me before I could read. I read it to myself as soon as I could. I loved the strangeness of it, and the tenderness. As a child mathematician, I loved knowing that a grown mathematician had written it. But … | Continue reading | 2 months ago

How Emotions Are Made

"Emotions are not reactions to the world; they are your constructions of the world." | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Hermann Hesse on Discovering the Soul Beneath the Self and the Key to Finding Peace

"Self-hate is really the same thing as sheer egoism, and in the long run breeds the same cruel isolation and despair." | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Endling: A Poem

I turned the corner one afternoon to find my neighborhood grocer gone. No warning, just gone — padlocked and boarded off, closed for good, a long chain of habit suddenly severed. We know that entropy drags everything toward dissolution, that life is a vector pointed at loss, but … | Continue reading | 3 months ago

The Secret Life of Chocolate: Oliver Sacks on the Cultural and Natural History of Cacao

Without chocolate, life would be a mistake — not a paraphrasing of Nietzsche he would have easily envisioned, for he was a toddler in Germany when a British chocolatier created the first modern version of what we now think of as chocolate: a paste of sugar, chocolate liquor, and … | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Maira Kalman on How to Live with Remorse and Make of It a Portal of Creative Vitality

Each time we have tried to elevate ourselves above the other animals by claiming singular possession of some faculty, we have been humbled otherwise: Language, it turns out, is not ours alone, nor is the use of tools, nor is music. Elephants grieve, octopuses remember and predict … | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Anne Morrow Lindbergh on Embracing Change in Relationships and the Key Pattern for Nourishing Love

"All living relationships are in process of change, of expansion, and must perpetually be building themselves new forms." | Continue reading | 3 months ago

The Art of Allowing Change: Neurobiologist Susan R. Barry’s Moving Correspondence with Oliver Sacks about the Blessed Overwhelm of Transformation

There is a thought experiment known as Mary’s Room, brilliant and haunting, about the abyss between felt experience and our mental models of it, about the nature of knowledge, the mystery of consciousness, and the irreducibility of aliveness: Living in a black-and-white chamber, … | Continue reading | 3 months ago

The Warblers and the Wonder of Being: Loren Eiseley on Contacting the Miraculous

"The time has to be right; one has to be, by chance or intention, upon the border of two worlds. And sometimes these two borders may shift or interpenetrate and one sees the miraculous." | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Thich Nhat Hanh on True Love and the Five Rivers of Self-Knowledge

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks… the work for which all other work is but preparation,” Rilke wrote to his young correspondent. The great difficulty of loving arises from the great difficulty of bridging the abyss between … | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Between the Infinite and the Infinitesimal: A Scientist’s Search for the Fulcrum of Faith

"The universe is not a place where evolution happens, it is the evolution happening. It is not a stage on which drama unfolds, it is the unfolding drama itself." | Continue reading | 3 months ago

Time and the Soul: Philosopher Jacob Needleman on Our Search for Meaning

"The real significance of our problem with time... is a crisis of meaning... The root of our modern problem with time is neither technological, sociological, economic nor psychological. It is metaphysical. It is a question of the meaning of human life itself." | Continue reading | 3 months ago