The Best of Brain Pickings / The Marginalian 2021 – The Marginalian

From the Stoics to the Snail, by Music, Matter, and Reason.

It is an annual ritual to look over the shoulder of time each year and to think of what has made it more livable and worth living through my writings–always the clearest mirror of what bothered my heart and my mind and bothered me as our unfamiliar planet made its steady revolution around its common star.

Inevitably, patterns that weren’t evident in the moment-by-moment experience emerge. Inevitably, these patterns reveal that no matter how turbulent the seasons of existence may be—and what a storm of uncertainty and confusion the year of 2021 was for all of us in the world, what a storm of sudden loss like frostbite and a slow-blooming rebirth for me. The world – the things that make life brighter with vitality are variations of eternal subjects, impervious to our fleeting disturbances.

Here are the best of these eternal echoes—as always, best synthesizer: a mixture of pieces you poured the most heart into writing and pieces you’ve read and shared widely by those whose hearts it touched.

thank you for reading.

Thanks for your attention.

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Rilke on the relationship between solitude, love, sex and creativity

Read it here.

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Becoming marginal: 15 years later, the brain’s collectibles are reborn

Read it here.

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James Baldwin on love, the illusion of choice, and the paradox of freedom

Read it here.

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The Right-Heart Snail: A True Story of Science and Love

Read it here.

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Music, the neural harmonics of emotion, and how love restores the brain

Read it here.

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The Antidote to Life’s Unreturnable: Hannah Arendt on What Forgiveness Really Means

Read it here.

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The ocean and the meaning of life

Read it here.

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Richard Dawkins on The Luck of Death

Read it here.

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Possible Impossibles: Physicist Alan Lightman on Beginnings, Ends, and What Makes Life Worth Living

Read it here.

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Pattern within a model: fractals, the hidden order under chaos, and the story of the refugee who revolutionized the mathematics of reality.

Read it here.

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Transforming Silence to Find Meaning: 95-year-old artist, poet, and philosopher Etel Adnan talks about how to live and how to die

Read it here.

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Blue Hour: A stunningly illustrated celebration of nature’s rarest colors

Read it here.

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Winter: Resilience, the Wisdom of Grief, and How Tree Science Illifies the Art of Self-Renewal in Tough Times

Read it here.

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Love, Loss, and the Banality of Survival: Charles Darwin, His Beloved Daughter, and How We Find Meaning in Deaths

Read it here.

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Of Trees, Tenderness, and the Moon: Hasui Kawase’s Stunning Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1920s and 1950s

Read it here.

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The Stoic Antidote to Frustration: Marcus Aurelius on How to Maintain Your Emotional Balance When People Let You Down

Read it here.

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Growing Through Grief: Derek Jarman on Gardening as Creative Salvation, the Devotion of Time, and a Training Ground for Attendance

Read it here.

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The Truelove: poet and philosopher David White on reaching beyond our limited beliefs about what we deserve

Read it here.

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Trees, Whales, and Our Digital Future: George Dyson on Nature, Human Nature, and the Relationship Between Our Minds and Machines

Read it here.

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Music and the secret of life

Read it here.

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Blue Horses in Our Destiny: Artist Franz Marc, Animal Wisdom, and the Fight of Beauty Against Brutality

Read it here.

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Thich Nhat Hanh on the Art of Deep Listening and the Three Buddhist Steps to Relationship Repair

Read it here.

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Rose Orwell: Rebecca Solnette on how nature sustains us, beauty as fuel for change, and the value of the stale things that give our lives meaning

Read it here.

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When Your Parents Die: Some of the Simplest, Hardest, and Most Redeeming Tips in Life You’ll Ever Receive

Read it here.

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The Art of Solitude: Buddhist Scholar and Teacher Stephen Batchelor on Contemplative Practice and Creativity

Read it here.

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Good Luck to Your Misfortune: Marcus Aurelius on the Stoic Strategy for Overcoming the Waves of Life and Turning Suffering into Strength

Read it here.

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