What Has Inspired You Lately?

When we were growing up, my dad would regularly weep in the car…

While driving us to school or a snowy Michigan lake perfect for ice skating, my dad would turn on a cassette tape of a beloved opera or Beethoven’s Ninth, and slow fat tears would roll down his face. He had grown up studying music, and it always moved him deeply. Meanwhile, all three of us kids would chat in the backseat, not worried at all by our sobbing father. We had seen it before. And we would see it again.

What music, art or books move you to tears? Apparently, the Spanish word “duende,” which the dictionary defines as “elf” or “woodland spirit,” can also mean the power of art or music to deeply affect you. Isn’t it almost an exquisite pain to experience something so beautiful that your hand clutches your heart?

Maria Khoreva ballet dancer

For me, things that move me include the Russian ballet dancer Maria Khoreva. Do you follow her on Instagram? She can do turns that are achingly slow.

Mohsin Hamid of Exit West

So many lines in Mohsin Hamid’s book Exit West, including: “It might seem odd that in cities teetering at the edge of the abyss young people still go to class — in this case an evening class on corporate identity and product branding — but that is the way of things, with cities as with life, for one moment we are pottering about our errands as usual and the next we are dying, and our eternally impending ending does not put a stop to our transient beginnings and middles until the instant when it does.”

Maya Lin's wavefield at Storm King.

Maya Lin’s wavefield at Storm King. And simple things, like the shape of this fence. A flock of birds. This poem. The ocean on a windy day. My sleeping children can bring me to my knees.

What about you? What has inspired or moved you lately?

My sister sent me this video of my dad listening to an English choir at my sister’s house last year, and “Lady Gaga’s first appearance in A Star is Born destroyed me, too,” he says.

P.S. 8 great Instagram accounts, and what’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever read?

(Top photo by Kendra Smoot.)