Romantic Love and Other Delusions

 Some of your friends in the neighborhood get together to play a game of softball. Joey Dambrozio just had his first child. You ask him how that feels. “It’s amazing,” he says. “I’ve loved my parents and I’ve loved my wife. But the way I love my kid is different. It’s the first time I can honestly say that I love someone more than myself.” You look across a crowded bar and see a young woman with a beautiful face. Suddenly, she is looking at you, smiling. And in that smile you see the completion of your life. Everything that you lack or yearn for is there. You fall in love. It is an overwhelming love. The kind of love …

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The Expanding Universe

  In 1929, Edwin Hubble used his famous telescope to determine that galaxies were not fixed, as scientists had thought. All of them – including ours – were moving away from one another. He thought about this for a long time. Logic dictated that if galaxies were always moving away from one another, they must have been closer together in the past. At the beginning of the universe, he reasoned, they might have been one solid ball. How far had the universe expanded since then? In 1967, two radio engineers working for Bell Laboratories noticed a hissing noise in their instruments. They theorized that it could be sound waves from photons at the outer edge of the universe – 90 …

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In a Single Day

    You’ve had a tough day. The commute to work was spoiled by a traffic jam. A colleague jostled you at the coffee machine and you spilled your coffee on your new shirt. The morning was filled with interruptions, so you never finished preparing for your afternoon meeting with the boss. Your lack of preparation was obvious. By five o’clock, you had accomplished nothing important. You feel frustrated and angry. Driving home in a light rain, the car in front of you suddenly brakes. In an instant, your car is swerving and then spinning on the slick pavement. Your heart is racing. Horns are blaring. Miraculously, you come to a halt without being hit. You pull to the side …

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From the Journal of My Childhood Friend Alec Singer…

  My attitude toward sports my entire life has been, “Win or die.” In my middle 40s, I took up golf. In my middle 50s, I took up tennis. So now I have these two sports to replace football, basketball, and baseball. I was good, sometimes very good, in football, basketball, and baseball. Now I am a bad golfer and a bad tennis player. I just started these games too late. When I played football, if we needed a 1st down, they would throw the ball to me and I would catch it. When I played basketball, if we needed a basket to win, I was happy to take it. When I played baseball, I was confident I could get …

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Ways of Thinking

There are basically two ways to think about things: Focused thinking – for intellectual challenges that are somewhat familiar. Your brain understands the challenge and is able to travel down established pathways to find the answer. It is the sort of thinking we do when playing chess, repairing engines, and even analyzing poems. Diffused thinking – for challenges that are new. It is more intuitive, allowing for random associations. It includes daydreaming and the kind of thinking you do in the shower when “brilliant” ideas seem to pop into your head. The biggest challenges – like finding cures for cancer and solving political disputes and negotiating successful divorces – usually require a combination of focused and diffused thinking. Not simultaneously. …

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