Creativity is a crushing chore and a glorious mystery. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.
Now that young girls like my twelve-year-old friend Mai are being exposed to modern Western women like me through crowds of tourists, they're experiencing those first critical moments of cultural hesitation. I call this the "Wait-a-Minute Moment" - that pivotal instant when girls from traditional cultures start pondering what's in it for them, exactly, to be getting married at the age of thirteen and starting to have babies not long after. They start wondering if they might prefer to make different choices for themselves, or any choices, for that matter. Once girls from closed societies start thinking such thoughts, all hell breaks loose.
The philosopher Odo Marquard has noted a correlation in the German language between the word zwei, which means 'two,' and the word zweifel, which means 'doubt' - suggesting that two of anything brings the automatic possibility of uncertainty to our lives. Now imagine a life in which every day a person is presented with not two or even three but dozens of choices, and you can begin to grasp why the modern world has become, even with all its advantages, a neurosis-generating machine of the highest order. In a world of such abundant possibility, many of us simply go limp from indecision. Or we derail our life's journey again and again, backing up to try the doors we neglected on the first round, desperate to get it right this time. Or we become compulsive comparers - always measuring our lives against some other person's life, secretly wondering if we should have taken her path instead.
I equal parts loved him and could not stand him. I couldn't wake him to share in my distress.
I also get that we women in particular must work very hard to keep our fantasies as clearly and cleanly delineated from our realities as possible, and that sometimes it can take years of effort to reach such a point of sober discernment.
The Buddha taught that most problems - if only you give them enough time and space - will eventually wear themselves out.
Psychologists suggest that we must reach back at least three generations to look for clues whenever we begin untangling the emotional legacy of any one family's history.
There was no better path to autonomy for an ambitious young businesswoman than to be married off to a respectable corpse.
All too often, those of us who choose to remain childless are accused of being somehow unwomanly or unnatural or selfish, but history teaches us that there have always been women who went through life without having babies.
ceremony is essential to humans: It's a circle that we draw around important events to separate the momentous from the ordinary. And ritual is a sort of magical safety harness that guides us from one stage of our lives into the next, making sure we don't stumble or lose ourselves along the way. Ceremony and ritual march us carefully right through the center of our deepest fears about change…