And Words Are All I Have


The hero of a Joseph Conrad novel, a sailor named James Wait, stricken with tuberculosis on a long sea voyage, is asked by a fellow sailor why he chose to sail abroad, knowing that he was unwell.

"I must live until I die -- mustn't I?" Wait replies.

We all must.
If Once You Have Slept on an Island

If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,

You may bustle about in street and shop;
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.

You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.

Oh, you won’t know why, and you can’t say how
Such change upon you came,
But – once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same.

~~ Rachel Field
This plaque I spotted in a store window down South got it right. And it’s not just a cozy aphorism. I just read the landmark book Blue Mind by marine biologist Wallace Nichols, where he documents through startling neuroscience that being near, in, or under water makes us happier, smarter, calmer, more connected, and better at what you do. Nichols says nothing about it improving your karaoke skills but I might have missed it.

Here's a reading of a poem written by my friend and poet Jena Schwartz, who I have worked with exhilaratingly through the years. It is delivered via a collaboration of poets - myself included. I guarantee it will blow some dust off your day, no matter how trying.

Best News This Week.

Well, besides production resuming on double-stuffed Golden Oreos.

A brain implant can now treat severe depression by electrically stimulating certain brain regions. The cutting-edge experimental implant monitors neural activity for the biomarkers flagging the onset of depression and – this is what is so astonishing - in real-time it zaps a key brain region to disrupt the cycle and improve the mood.

Thirty six year old Sarah is the first patient to be successfully treated with the new therapy. She had childhood onset, severe, treatment-resistant depression and after trying every possible remedy – from multiple antidepressants to electroconvulsive therapy - she was ready to give up.

“I was at the end of the line,” she said. “I could not see myself continuing if I could never move beyond this. It was not a life worth living.”

The discovery offers new hope for those like Sarah. It also helps dismantle the persistent, draconian stigma that this illness is somehow the patient’s fault.

There is no fault to be had. Only science stepping up, yet again, teasing out ways to help return us to our full and best selves.

Here’s a two minute video on this prodigious discovery.


The music was contrast and balm. It is with me still.

In this poem by Anne Whitehouse, she tells of a woman on her way home after a difficult day on a jury, who is restored by an unexpected gift on the subway.

Wonderful - sometimes magical - how in our lives these moments come along and somehow save us. It can be a kind look or word, or an exquisite late afternoon slant of light that seems meant only for us. And we catch our breath and find the strength to move on.

One Summer Day on the Number One Train

When the doors of the express opened at 72 Street,
the local was waiting. She entered with me,
tall and angular as a crane, her expression alert,
violin poised against her clavicle like a wing.
The train was half-empty, the passengers dozing
or absorbed in their smartphones.
She stood at one end of the car, her gaze
swiftly appraising us, while the doors slid shut.
Closing her eyes, she lifted her bow
and dipped her chin, and into that pause
went all the years of preparation
that had brought her to this moment.
The train accelerated in a rush of cacophony,
her music welled up, and I recognized
a Bach concerto blossoming to fullness
like an ever-opening rose. Suddenly
I was crying for no reason and every reason,
in front of strangers. I thought of the courtroom
where, an hour ago, I’d sat listening to testimony
with fellow jurors, charged to determine the facts
and follow the law. But no matter how we tried,
we couldn’t reverse damage or undo wrong.
The music was contrast and balm, like sunlight
in subterranean air. The tears wet on my cheeks,
I broke into applause, joined by fellow passengers.
We’d become an audience, her audience,
just before the doors opened and we scattered.
Making my offering, I exited, too shy to catch her eye.
But she’d seen the effect her music had wrought.
Its echo resounded in my memory, following me
into the glory of the summer afternoon.
It is with me still.

subway 2
pencil drawing red heart
I am here, listening. Share your own stories with me, gentle reader.
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For all of the girls and the women who trusted too much... those found and never found, the lost ones, the lonely ones, whose stories go untold, their heartache entombed alongside them. Last Text from Gabby Petito No service here, but at least I’m free from the cage bars of my body; remember what I’d blogged in observation of …
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