Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Recent Existential NYT Reads

Grant the sufferers the dignity of their own process. Let them define meaning. Sit simply through moments of pain and uncomfortable darkness. Be practical, mundane, simple and direct.

From The Art of Presence, an eloquent and deeply touching how-to-guide for those seeking to help people who are suffering. It is equally difficult to support with quiet steadfast presence as it is to be the one in pain.

"The first year was really hard. I went through what I can only describe as withdrawal — waking up at nights panicked about running out of money, scouring the headlines to see which of my old co-workers had gotten promoted. Over time it got easier — I started to realize that I had enough money, and if I needed to make more, I could. But my wealth addiction still hasn’t gone completely away. Sometimes I still buy lottery tickets."

A brave and honest look into the love of money by former "wealth addict," Sam Polk, who left his job on the Wall Street trading floor and went on to establish Groceryships, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged families feed themselves real, whole food. 

"In a way, though, the certainty of death was easier than this uncertain life. Didn’t those in purgatory prefer to go to hell, and just be done with it? Was I supposed to be making funeral arrangements? Devoting myself to my wife, my parents, my brothers, my friends, my adorable niece? Writing the book I had always wanted to write? Or was I supposed to go back to negotiating my multiyear job offers?"

What happens when a neurosurgeon receives a lung cancer diagnosis? He becomes a powerful storyteller, sharing in his own words the truth of what it means to live through the acute discomfort of oblique uncertainty. 

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