Other Graceful Moments

Gracefulness manifests itself as an effortless, subtle harmony between a subject and its environment. — Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Examples:

Enjoy, dear blog readers.

A Surgeon’s Life

Fascinating review by Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker of 18 May 2015 (Self is sooo behind in her reading!) of a memoir by London neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. It’s an unflinching look by Marsh at his medical career and the failures that haunt him (“It’s not the successes I remember, but the failures.”) Incredibly, so much of his success or failure depends on, not training, not intelligence, not skill, but luck.

Rothman compares a neurosurgeon’s life to a soldier’s. Both are “deeply shaped by” something called “moral luck.” To perform under the burden of this awareness is impossible unless Marsh can successfully control “his own emotions. If he can’t control how a surgery turns out, he will control how he feels. He tries not to let his feelings add to his patients’ fear and unhappiness; at the same time, he tries never to lie. He yearns for feelings that are strong but realistic, fully voiced but even-keeled.”

In writing his book, “Marsh has seemingly violated his code; he expresses many of the feelings that he’s worked very hard to keep hidden.”

Fascinating.

Marsh’s book is called Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery.

Subsequent research on Goodreads shows that it’s garnered a number of nominations and one prize: the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography.

Stay tuned.

To the Last

Obama:  How do we make sure that we don’t change, even as we protect our people?”

— quoted in The Economist, 26 November 2016

Hillary

“I think that if you live long enough, you realize that so much of what happens in life is out of your control, but how you respond to it is in your control. That’s what I try to remember.”

#amreading: All Day, Poetry

The Sublime

by Joshua Gottlieb-Miller

(An excerpt)

He was worried he was growing
immune to his anxiety
medication when the bank called
to tell him his identity

had been stolen. He did some
quick calculations, then
They can keep it, he said,
and hung up. The sublime

is kindled by the threat
of nothing further happening,
the painter wrote, and he liked that
so he thought about it as he walked

into the woods. Creditors
from other branches of the bank
called to ask when he would put
more money in his checking account.

He was delinquent, they explained,
so he explained it was only
the account that was delinquent.
Not after Zen, not after quiet

determination, or equilibrium —
just a view from the overlook,
and to enjoy it, the forest being new
to him. He keeps going. Leaves

— published in Indiana Review, Vol. 34, No. 2

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston, where he was a poetry editor for Gulf Coast.

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