But what happens on February 3rd?

It's always February 2nd - ThisIsAuthentic.com

If, like me, you are a fan of redemption movies—and of Bill Murray—then today you tuned into AMC and watched Groundhog Day…again…and again…and again….


My favorite part of this time-warp movie comes near the end, when Phil (also the groundhog’s name) Connors finally gets it. He starts living in the ever-present moment, the only way we can experience earthbound time. Even before he learns how to escape from the time loop he’s caught in, he starts to accept his fate and begins learning how to live a perfect day that only infinite re-dos make possible.

But what is a “perfect” day, anyway? The message of the film is that this Scrooge-like guy becomes his best self through learning compassion for others—all with a comic and romantic twist (not unlike Bill’s other redemption movie from 1988, Scrooged). And his reward for living a perfect February 2nd is? Ta-da: February 3rd.

However, on the other side of the screen, we don’t get infinite re-dos. We need to learn as we go through linear time, not when we’re stuck in an endless loop designed to help us evolve. So how do we do it? 

My personal February 2nd, so to speak, was in 2014. At this time last three years ago, I was in the middle of my vaginal radiation treatments (brachytherapy) following a total hysterectomy for uterine cancer on December 13, 2013. Still in the “glow” of having survived a brush with death, I had begun to learn the lesson that all moments of life are precious, if not eternal.

leslie-howard_berkeley-square_1933

Or are they? This is a topic for another day, but perhaps all moments of time exist somewhere, in some treasure vault that we can revisit…and revisit… and revisit…if we learn the combination or find the key.  In other words, perhaps all time—past, present, and future—are one, existing harmoniously on some continuum we just don’t know how to access. For a fascinating metaphor that helps explain this concept, see the 1933 film Berkeley Square (move the time marker to 23:55).

But what if we can’t unlock all the secrets of the universe? (And who knows—maybe it’s only one secret.) These thoughts took me back to a special key mentioned in the lyrics of the 1967 song by the Youngbloods, “Get Together,” which I always thought held the deepest human secret:

You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command

In an awesome and happy coincidence, a quick search for the lyrics took me to the February 3, 2015, post on the Huffington Post blog, where the song was featured that day: “Daily Meditation: Get Together.” infinite-loveSuch coincidences seem to point to a cosmic connection, one that I don’t yet understand. Yet these occurrences whisper to me that perhaps we do hold a key that unlocks the secrets to at least our private universe.

In the afterglow of that “Whew! Narrow escape!” feeling post-op and post-radiation three years ago, I am still figuring out how to incorporate the lessons of my February 2nd into the February 3rd I share with everyone—my reward for having survived. Learning how to do this will require me to be awake, aware, and appreciative in all the days that follow until I run out of time as we know it.

Tomorrow, on February 3rd, I think it will be enough for me to realize that aftermaths and interims are just as important as great events. Or maybe they are the great events. Life is still happening in an amazing way even when we can’t quite feel the miracle of it after the emergency or major event has melted into the rest of our experience.

transitions

Life transitions often feel shallow, muddy, confusing, unfocused, unimportant. But without the respite from urgency that we experience during exciting or traumatic times, we wouldn’t have the chance to dive deeper into our own being. These times spent in semi-mist may actually be mystical. Change is creative. So transition isn’t really a dark place to be feared or avoided, but a space offering a chance to learn and become your own next great thing. As earth transits around the sun, we can pause to realize that transition is, after all, how we experience the time of our lives.

I will celebrate February 3rd, knowing that the bare limbs will soon bear leaf buds, apparently in another six weeks according to Punxsutawney Phil’s 2017 prediction.

punxsutawney-phil_2017-02-02

And I hope you won’t get stuck indefinitely in your own February 2nd and that you will have a quietly wonderful February 3rd, too. As the earth turns, I am thankful that life gives us a chance at renewal so we learn to grow into our best selves.

BookLit: “Victoria” – Tale of a Young Queen

victoria_novelVictoria is a novel by Daisy Goodwin, who also created and wrote the eight-part ITV/PBS drama of the same name currently airing in the US on Masterpiece.

Daisy Goodwin, author of the New York Times bestselling novels The Fortune Hunter and The American Heiress, is a Londoner who earned a degree in history at Cambridge, attended Columbia’s film school, and was Chair of the judging panel of the UK’s prestigious 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction (now known as the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction). In Victoria’s Acknowledgements (British spelling), Goodwin says that she wrote the novel simultaneously with the screenplay.

Having just finished the book before the first episode of the TV drama aired, I found this not at all surprising—the book is quite cinematic, relying as it does on personality- and emotion-based dialogue and action, as well as detailed descriptions of settings and costumes. At first, because of the lack of depth in character development and the short narrative arc, I thought this was the “companion book” to the TV production—except that it lacks photos. (A companion book that does contain lavish photography was written by Helen Rappaport, with a Foreword by Daisy Goodwin. Ms. Goodwin also managed to work herself into the TV production as the improbably named Lady Cecilia Buggins, real-life wife of the Duke of Sussex, one of Victoria’s many uncles.)

young-queen-victoria_318x367
Queen Alexandrina Victoria
jenna-coleman-as-queen-victoria_318x367
Actress Jenna Coleman

Romance, Impetuousness, Melodrama—Victoria? Queen Victoria?

The luscious tidbits whet your appetite for the rest of the meal.

 

As a historian, Goodwin obviously did her homework. The book (and teledrama) is quite well researched, and I learned about personages, plots, and parliamentary matters I hadn’t known much about previously. Yet this is partly an imagined, romanticized story, using third-person-limited point of view to get inside the mind and heart of the young queen, as well as to suggest the inner life of Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister. While this makes for quick, delightful reading (and sumptuous TV viewing), history rendered as soap opera leaves one wondering just what really went on in the world of this iconic monarch and her ministers, minions, and mate, Prince Albert.

Not being a Victorian scholar, I feel the need to investigate some of the themes Goodwin explores in her historical fiction, such as the implied but unrealized romance between Victoria and “Lord M” (Melbourne). Did the Queen really track him down at his ancestral home to propose marriage? Are decisions about which party forms a government actually determined by who serves as the Queen’s ladies? Doubtful. On the other hand, although there may not have been an invasion of vermin, the palace definitely had rats—particularly the plotting, scheming Duke of Cumberland and Sir John Conroy, who all but tore the crown off of Victoria’s head. And the Queen did have something to do with the demise of poor maligned Flora Hastings, one of her mother’s ladies, who did die of cancer—although the royal examination ordered by Victoria did not occur during her coronation.

While this is historical fiction and not biography, I still find myself objecting to rearranging the past for dramatic effect. (Read more fact vs. fiction here and here.) Goodwin even describes the young Victoria in more physically appealing terms than her portraits suggest—although most of us would likely prefer to picture pretty Jenna Coleman as Victoria than the plainer Alexandrina playing herself. One evidently accurate fact is that the very name “Victoria” had been more a descriptive honorific, much like “Gloriana” for Queen Elizabeth I, than it was an actual woman’s appellation until the new young Queen declared it so. Thus, Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria has prompted me to seek out an actual biography, and this one looks promising: VICTORIA THE QUEEN: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird.

Admittedly, many of us non-academicians probably enjoy learning history more through personalized, dramatic story-telling than by reading presumably drier biographies. But although I sympathize with the humanization of historical figures and events as a palatable means of digesting the past, “reimaginings” such as Victoria leave me hungry for more substantial fare—somewhat like eating dessert before the main course. Compare this with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, for example—although Hilary Mantel also reimagined Thomas Cromwell’s life and times, I felt fully satisfied—as if I’d had a complete meal and dessert—after finishing, so deep and keen were the psychological and political insights that were carefully inlaid within the rich layers of historical research. The Booker Prize and National Book Award committees agreed. And did you see that British drama? Stunning.

Episode 1 of the dramatized Victoria ended as Melbourne agreed to remain prime minister after a brief resignation in order to prevent court schemers from promoting Victoria’s German mother and despised uncle to co-regents on the grounds that Victoria was psychologically unstable. Except she wasn’t. She was young. And despite her innocence caused by a sheltered life, she is depicted here as a sometimes impulsive, full-of-life, headstrong, clever, talented, and emotionally volatile and vulnerable young woman—somehow remaining regal through it all.

At this same dramatic point in the televised story, we are already halfway through the book, providing (unneeded) motivation to watch the remaining seven highly entertaining episodes that extend beyond the book pages, as well as a desire for the heft of a real novel. Some differences, however, distinguish the two media, such as the subplot surrounding Skerrett, Victoria’s dresser, and Francatelli, the palace chef. While this could have been worked into the book, the author chose not to digress very much from her portrayal of Victoria and her relationships, primarily with her men—Melbourne and later Albert just before their marriage.

Now that we’ve looked at the content, let’s talk briefly about the writing. I found it animated, sensuous, and literate, but done with a light touch. I did learn a new word or two: passementerie (elaborate trimmings or edgings on clothing and furniture). And I also encountered some comically delicious euphemisms: “criminal conversation” (adultery), “nunnery” (whorehouse), “retiring room” (let’s just say these places contained chamber pots).

And, as an editor, I need to say a few more words about those British spellings. Peculiarly, but not so uncommonly these days, American punctuation is mixed with British orthography. Originally published in Great Britain by Headline Book Publishing, the American version of the novel was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2016. Many British authors sequentially publish in this country, but the industry has yet to apply consistent style standards—some books retain British punctuation and spelling, some are converted to American, and others, like this one, are hybridized/hybridised (to what purpose, I don’t know).

My preference would be to leave British style firmly in place—after all, dialogue and diction are not translated into Americanese, so why should any of the rest be? I for one hear British-accented voices in my head as I read, although my mind has created some amalgam of English/Welsh/Irish/Scottish regional voices that I’ve homogenized for my own pleasure.

I have a few other small complaints about publishing errors, such as occasional omissions of a word or uncorrected punctuation, as well as a few misspellings that would be wrong on either side of the Atlantic (“bear garden” instead of “beer garden”). But these occur in every book, and I didn’t find too many occurrences.

Recommendation: Read (and Watch) for Pleasure, Expect to Do Further Reading

victoria-melbourne

Readers who like “history light” and don’t mind dramatic license in place of recorded fact, will find Victoria a quick-paced, highly enjoyable, absorbing read, especially if their taste runs to the machinery behind relationships, whatever the level of society. If Goodwin writes another novel extending Victoria’s story past her extreme youth, I know it will find its way into my hands. But it will be supplemented by additional reading.

And DO watch the PBS series—your fact-checking can wait until after you luxuriate in the gorgeous cinematography, sets, costumes, and characterizations. The acting is expectedly good, the storytelling enticing, the experience charming. View the trailer.

Living Her Life in “Jeopardy” Before Colon Cancer Claimed Her

Updated from the original post on The Patient Path – December 16, 2016


Acknowledging the Sad Passing of Someone Who Had Time Enough to Live Her Dream: Cindy Stowell, “Jeopardy!” Champion

JEOPARDY PRODUCTIONS, INC., VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

Last Friday, it was announced that “Jeopardy!” champion Cindy Stowell died at age 41 of Stage 4 colon cancer on December 5, 2016, about a week before her episodes aired. She had a total of seven wins before losing on tonight’s broadcast, taped in August. At the end of the program this evening, Alex Trebek paid his respects to her in memoriam and sent condolences to her family.
But Cindy’s real victory was that she got to live her dream—she was able to tape her appearances in August 2016 while she was still well enough. Not only that, but she may have helped unknown others live their dream as well: she donated her winnings—more than $100,000—to the Cancer Research Institute.

Colon Cancer Statistics & Information

According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. Estimates for 2016 are:

  • 95,270 new cases of colon cancer
  • 39,220 new cases of rectal cancer

Of these, 49,190 deaths from colorectal cancer are anticipated this year.

There is some good news: The death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. One probable reason is that colorectal polyps are being found more often by screening and are removed before they can develop into cancers. Another is that these cancers are being found earlier when the disease is easier to treat. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last few decades, resulting in more than 1 million survivors in the US.

Colon cancer has also touched my family—my father had it when he was in his mid-fifties. Although he didn’t die of it, he could have if he had waited any longer to get treatment: his tumor was just about to perforate beyond his intestine into his abdominal cavity.

Family History & Genetic Testing for Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is also significant to me because it is genetically linked with uterine (endometrial) cancer, for which I was I successfully treated three years ago. As I discussed briefly in my December 14, 2016 post, my gynecologic oncologist recommended that I have genetic counseling. Genetic tests can help show whether family members have inherited a high risk of colorectal cancer due to family cancer syndromes and other risk factors.

In some family cancer syndromes, a few types of cancer seem to go together. For example, breast cancer and ovarian cancer run together in families with “hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome” (HBOC). What is of greater interest to me personally is that colorectal and uterine (endometrial) cancers tend to go together in a syndrome called “hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer” (HNPCC), also known as Lynch syndrome. People with Lynch syndrome are also at increased risk for some other cancers, such as cancers of the ovaries, stomach, small bowel, pancreas, kidneys, brain, ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder), and bile duct.

I will be diving deeper into the link between colon and uterine cancer in the near future. In the meantime, you can read about my three-year journey with uterine cancer here. And I strongly urge women to become aware of the uterine cancer risk factors—this is the most common gynecologic cancer, affecting more than 60,000 women in the US per year and killing more than 10,000 of them. I will also be updating the risk factor post very soon to include additional information on genetic testing for colorectal cancer and Lynch syndrome.

Contact Me

I welcome people to contact me with questions, comments, and stories of their own using this form.

Gwen Ifill, PBS Reporter, Dies of Uterine Cancer

Reposted from ThePatientPath.net – Coping with Women’s Cancers


Gwen Ifill - DIed of Uterine Cancer

Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for “Meet The Press”

I was Gwen Ifill’s age when I was diagnosed with uterine (endometrial) cancer three years ago. Today, the world lost an astute, inspiring reporter, whom I’ve followed on the PBS NewsHour  for a number of years.


More than 60,000 American women will develop uterine (endometrial) cancer in 2016—and 10,000 of them will die of it. Most of this disease’s victims are over age 60, but it can strike women of any age—mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, other family members, and friends.

Uterine cancer doesn’t get much media attention compared with, for example, breast cancer—or even other forms of gynecologic cancer, such as ovarian. (See, for example, the many organizations supporting ovarian cancer here.) And if women do not learn to recognize the risk factors and symptoms and get timely treatment for uterine cancer—which, like ovarian cancer, has no reliable screening test—their lives may be compromised, and even shortened. And more young women are being stricken with this disease and may never bear children.

By raising awareness of this fourth most common cancer in US women, and the most common gynecologic cancer, we can catch it early and improve the survival rate—the earlier the stage of the cancer, the longer the life of the patient.

On January 28, 2017, The Patient Path will be doing its first live event to enlighten women about uterine cancer. More information about this will be forthcoming.

Please visit again soon. And in the meantime, take some time to learn more about this disease—and how we can help stop it from killing the organ that gives us life.

Start with a review of the risk factors. Then find much more information in my story.


Also see the update post on 11/17/16 on gynecologic cancers and the memorial service on 11/20/16.

Photo Credit: AL DRAGO/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Thousands of Mourners Celebrate Gwen Ifill’s Tenacity and Grace

Michelle Obama and noted journalists attended a memorial service at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church for Ms. Ifill, the PBS anchor, who died of cancer on Monday.

The New York Times

Thanksgiving Day and Globalization

REPOSTED WITH THANKS FROM THE ARTICLE ON GLOBALBUSINESS.ME BY FAROK J. CONTRACTOR, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY

© 2015 Prof. Farok J. Contractor, Rutgers University

See the updated post: Second Helping, November 24, 2016

“Freedom from Want” – Norman Rockwell, 1942

As Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving Day repasts each year, they are taught to recall the story of the “Pilgrim Fathers,” who in 1620 founded one of the first English settlements in North America at what was then Plimoth Colony in the State of Massachusetts. But the story of the English settlers seeking religious freedom in the New World was not, initially, one of gratitude. On arriving, they found nothing but “. . . a hideous & desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men.”[1] It was almost as if the settlers had landed on an unexplored frontier, like the Americans landing on a pristine moon more than three centuries later.


Early Globalization and the New World

Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth Mass

Recreation of Plimoth Colony, Plymouth, Massachusetts
See More at Plimouth Plantation

In fact, the very survival of Plimoth Colony, which evolved into the town of Plymouth, as well as the turkey that sits on the center of American tables on the fourth Thursday of each November, are testaments to more than a prior century’s globalization and trans-Atlantic travel. After 1492, when Cristoforo Colombo (re)discovered the Americas (the Norse had already settled in Canada around the year 1,000 under Lief Erikson), the Spanish and Portuguese had crossed the Atlantic thousands of times before the English settlers arrived in 1620; but they had concentrated mainly on the warmer and more fertile colonies in Mexico and Latin America. The English were left with the frigid, seemingly inhospitable remains—the North American forests, which appeared to have little economic value.

The Turkey


goulds turkey

Meleagris gallopavo mexicana–Ancestor of the North American Thanksgiving Bird

Most Americans at their Thanksgiving Day table do not realize that the large bird they are consuming is not native to America . . . and certainly not to Turkey. Its origin is Mexico, descended from a fowl that the Spanish exported to Europe a century before the English colony in the New World was established. By 1530, this bird could be found abundantly in European and British farms. However, in Europe it was confused with the guinea hen (an African fowl) that had previously been imported into Europe via Ottoman Turkey. Apparently, the taste, and the economics, of the Mexican bird were superior, and thus it displaced the African bird from European farms and tables. It is most likely that what Americans know today as the turkey is the Mexican bird, consumed by Europeans and then later re-imported back to North America on English ships. The Plimoth Colony settlers did hunt fowl, but if their catch included turkeys, it was the North American wild turkey (Meleagris Americana), not the Southern Mexican variety (Meleagris Mexicana)[2] that evolved into today’s turkey. (Of course,  today’s factory turkey is so genetically modified from its Mexican original that it is bland and likely much more tasteless, a far cry from its Mexican progenitor.)

“Squanto” and the Survival of Plimoth Colony

220px-Squantohowwellthecornprospered
Tisquantum (“Squanto”), Amazing Young Man of the Patuxet Tribe

Nine months after their arrival, more than half of the 102 individuals that disembarked from the Mayflower had perished of hunger and disease. The utterly unprepared and amateurish Pilgrims had arrived too late in the autumn of 1620 to plant crops, had underestimated the severity of the New England winter, and, to their surprise, found that their landing spot near the Cape Cod peninsula was unpopulated—so no human help or local advice was available. In another example of the effects of globalization, the Native American population in the area had been wiped out just a few years earlier through small pox and other diseases introduced by previously arriving English trading ships. One of these earlier ships in 1608 had sweetly proposed to exchange English metal goods for beaver and other animal skins, but then had captured and enslaved some of the natives and transported them to Europe.

One of them was a young man of the Patuxet tribe named Tisquantum (later shortened to Squanto), who was sold as a slave to Spanish Catholic priests for £20. Freed in 1612, Squanto traveled to England and lived in London for six years, with what must have been a wild hope of returning to his native village. In fact, it was not so improbable an aspiration because globalization was by then well established. Each year English trading ships would travel to New England to trade, pillage, and enslave. In 1618, Squanto’s English-language abilities and general acumen were noticed by an English ship captain who offered to take him back to New England in return for his translation and intermediary skills. Landing somewhere near the State of Maine, it took Squanto three years to walk his way south and find his native village (the place called Plimoth by the Pilgrims).

Squanto-Wampanoag

Squanto Greets the Surprised English Settlers

In the spring of 1621, as despair and death faced the weakened remaining English settlers, to their utter amazement a Native American speaking English, as well as the area’s Wampanoag language, stepped into their settlement, offering them friendship, advice on what crops to plant, and how to hunt and trap animals. More importantly, Squanto served as an ambassador or bridge to the area’s Narragansett and Wampanoag Indians, so that for a remarkable half century there was an uneasy peace between the English and the natives.

But by 1675, with more than 22,000 English immigrants, the natives realized they were being displaced from their own lands, and they launched an attack under the leadership of Metacom. This is sometimes described as the First Indian War. Of course, the locals were no match for English guns and growing numbers of colonists. The English presence in North America was by now an unassailable presence, whose later growth would populate the continent from “sea to shining sea.”

Conclusion: Thanksgiving Is as Much a Globalization Story as It Is an American One

Americans who enjoy their Thanksgiving repast are mostly oblivious of the fact that the story of the very founding of the United States is very much a story of globalization. Squanto’s trans-Atlantic journeys, his role in enabling the English bridgehead on the American continent, and the export and re-importation of the Mexican bird known to us as the turkey are vivid examples that globalization was commonplace—and even routine—by the 17th century.


[1] From the diary of William Bradford (1590 – 1657), Governor of Plymouth Plantation Colony, Cape Cod, 1620: “A Hideous and Desolate Wilderness.” In History of Plymouth Plantation. In 1621, when only 50-odd half-starved survivors were left of the 102 that disembarked from the Mayflower, the word “governor” may have sounded far too grandiose a term. But with new annual arrivals, despite losses, the number of English grew to 180 by 1624, and had increased to over 1500 by 1650. (Patricia Scott Deetz and James Deetz, Population of Plymouth Town, Colony & County, 1620-1690.)
[2] John Bemelmans Marciano. On the origin of the species: Where did today’s bird come from? The answer may surprise you. Los Angeles Times, November 25, 2010.

 

What happens on February 3rd?

Reposted from The Patient Path FEBRUARY 3, 2015


It's always February 2nd - ThisIsAuthentic.com

If, like me, you are a fan of redemption movies—and of Bill Murray—then yesterday you tuned into AMC and watched Groundhog Day . . . again . . . and again . . . and again.


My favorite part of the movie is near the end, when Phil (also the groundhog’s name) Connors finally gets it and starts living—and giving—in the ever-present moment. He hasn’t yet escaped the time warp he’s found himself in; but he has accepted his fate and lives a perfect day that only infinite re-dos and learning the ultimate lesson could make possible. And yet . . .

What is a “perfect” day? The message of the film is that this Scrooge-like guy learns about becoming his best self through genuine interest in and compassion for others—all with a comic and romantic twist (not unlike Bill’s other redemption movie, Scrooged). His reward for a lesson well learned on February 2nd? February 3rd.

But on the other side of the screen, we don’t get infinite re-dos. We need to learn as we go through time, not when we’re stuck in an endless loop. So how do we learn to live a “perfect” day on February 3rd after learning the lessons of our own February 2nd?

My personal February 2nd, so to speak, was in 2014. At this time last year, I was in the middle of my vaginal radiation treatments (brachytherapy) following a total hysterectomy for uterine cancer on December 13, 2013. And I was still in the “glow” of having survived a brush with fatality and having learned my lesson that all moments of life—even my life, which I have not always valued—are precious, if not eternal.

Or are they? This is a topic for another day, but perhaps all moments of time exist somewhere, in some treasure vault that we can revisit . . . and revisit . . . and revisit—if we learn the combination or find the key.

George's Secret Key

But what if we can’t unlock all of the secrets of the universe? (Who knows—maybe it’s only one secret.) These thoughts took me back to part of the lyrics of the 1967 song by the Youngbloods, “Get Together,” which I always thought held the deepest human secret:

You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at you command

20150203_103012 (2)In an awesome and happy coincidence, a quick search for the lyrics took me to the February 3, 2015, post on the Huffington Post blog, “The Third Metric,” where the song is featured today: “Daily Meditation: Get Together.” Such coincidences seem to point to a cosmic connection, one that I don’t understand. Yet these occurrences whisper to me that perhaps we do hold a key that unlocks the secrets to at least our private universe.

In the afterglow of that “Whew! Narrow escape” feeling post-op and post-radiation last year, I am still figuring out how to incorporate the lessons of my February 2nd into February 3rd—my reward for having survived. Learning how to do this will require me to be awake, aware, and appreciative in all the days that follow until I run out of them.

On this February 3rd, as I see welcome sunlight turning ice into crystals on the bare limbs outside my window, I guess it is enough for me to realize that aftermaths and interims are just as important as great events. Or maybe they are the great events. Life is still happening in an amazing way even when we can’t quite feel the miracle of it after the emergency or major event has melted into the rest of our experience.

Life transitions often feel shallow, muddy, confusing, unfocused, unimportant. But without the respite from urgency that we experience during exciting or traumatic times, we wouldn’t have the chance to dive deeper into our own being. These times spent in semi-mist may actually be mystical. Change is creative. So transition isn’t really a dark place to be feared or avoided, but a space offering a chance to learn and become your own next great thing. As earth transits around the sun, transition is how we experience time . . . and all the times of our lives.

Alone in my personal space, I will celebrate February 3rd, knowing that the ice crystals will become leaf buds . . . in time. I hope you will have a quietly wonderful February 3rd, too.

20150203_112402


Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters
Featured Image: Movie poster, Groundhog Day, 1993.

 

In Memoriam: Charles Hard Townes, Inventor of the “Maser” – 1915-2015

Charles_Townes_Wikipedia
Charles Hard Townes – 1964 Nobel Laureate in Physics – July 28, 1915-January 27, 2015

The invention of the laser can be dated to 1958 with the publication of the scientific paper “Infrared and Optical Masers” by Arthur L. Schawlow, then a Bell Labs researcher, and Charles H. Townes, then a consultant to Bell Labs. That paper, published in Physical Review, a journal of the American Physical Society, opened the door to a multi-billion-dollar industry and launched a new scientific field—as well as many careers.

Visions_of_Discovery_Townes Book Cover

Visions of Discovery: New Light on Physics, Cosmology, and Consciousness was part of a program developed in 2005 to honor the leadership and vision of Townes in his ninetieth-birthday year.

Beginning with the Amazing Light: Visions for Discovery symposium held at the University of California, Berkeley, in October 2005, the program, including the book, aimed to honor and amplify Townes’s vision and take it into the twenty-first century with new generations of researchers who continue to explore possibilities for investigating new, deep discoveries about the nature of the universe.

Ellipsis had the privilege of working on this program in honor of Professor Townes and served as developmental and managing editor of the book. We wish his family our sincerest condolences at this time of loss, and we hold Professor Townes, one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century, in fond and respectful memory.

Also see: Nobel laureate and laser inventor Charles Townes dies at 99 – News Center Berkeley, 2015/01/27, and Remembering the Energetic Contributions of Templeton Prize Winner Charles Townes, 1915-2015, 2015/02/12.