I love my Sunday New York Times. With the world the way it is these days, I cannot say that I comb through the daily papers, or even the Sunday papers for every news detail the way I used to, but I am still attached to my Sunday routine. As I have come into my own, I have become more aware of what is meaningful to me at my time of life - right now. What I have settled on, as those of you who read my posts probably know, is that I love people's stories. I love to see how an individual landed where he or she is at the present moment, and what lessons they have learned from their life experiences. And I love the more global picture - human nature and psychology - how do people react to certain situations; why does one person rise above while another capitulates? What makes one person face adversity with calm determination and creativity and another give up before they even begin?
Do you know where I find these wonderful personal stories? In the Sunday Times! Specifically in the "color sections." The Metropolitan section profiles day to day life in the city. Page two always has a feature called Sunday Routine which follows one person through their Sunday. This past weekend, Metro also contained an article about a little dog who gave a homeless man enough hope to get off the streets, a feature called "Neighborhood Joint" about a kosher bakery that is a cornerstone in a particular neighborhood and something called NYC Nature that reminds every week that nature can thrive in the midst of a great city.
My favorite weekly feature in the real estate section is called "Living In ...." It picks a specific town every week and paints an intimate picture of what its like to live there from three or four examples of what you get for your money in housing, what the local restaurants and bars are, what the place is known for and personal comments by locals. Then there is "The Hunt." Like HG TV, it follows a couple looking for a home. It takes you through all the places they looked at, the thoughts they had about pros and cons as they make their decision, and their "happy ending" in the place they finally chose as a new home.
The travel section is, as in every newspaper, is full of buckets lists and dreams and empty corners where I have cut out articles for my bucket list folders. You will find the same holes in The Book Review, where I chop out reviews of books I want to read (although I am starting to transition that on-line through Goodreads.) Arts and Leisure inspires me to take more advantage of what Manhattan has to offer, and when I do find myself in the city, I am often gunning for one of their recommendations.
But by far, my favorite sections are the engagement/marriage announcements and the obituaries! While these may seem to be at opposing ends of the human spectrum, they are really quite similar. Each week the times features one wedding or engagement. It interviews the couple about how they met each other. They are often asked about the exact moment when they realized they were in love. We hear about "the chase." We speak with their good friends and parents about their observations, and often the article ends at their wedding where we see the whole show - from outfits to centerpieces to crazy uncles! Some are so bizarre that they validate the expression that real life is stranger than fiction - like the couple who wore space suits and entered the ceremony on a fabricated space ship, or those who choose to get married while surfing - minister trying to keep up. Others are huge society deals that make you feel as if Gatsby were still alive - and others no frills zen-like affairs full of personal meaning. I am telling you - its a Sunday morning novel in itself.
I hope I am not offending when I say I love to read the obituaries - but they are both public and personal history lessons. Talk about novels - just about every week I read a life story that I think might inspire me to write one! This past week gave me the story of Elliot Gant. He and his bother perfected the button-down shirt, making it a staple of "the Ivy League and Madison Avenue men," through some amazingly creative innovations and marketing. It also featured Professor Hilary Putnam who taught (and I love this) that "any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs in one." In a field that loves to hear itself talk, he apparently believed in making the message understandable. In the same section was the wife of Robert Altman, the film maker. She worked with her husband on all of his creative endeavors, and in later years became the keeper of his legacy and a font of knowledge for the film-making industry.
So there went my Sunday morning! But do you know what? I worked hard all week, I had a fun but very busy Saturday, I cleaned my house after work on Friday so that I could enjoy my weekend. And these Sunday morning hours with my Times, by the fire, with a bagel and a hot cup of coffee are a treasure I wouldn't trade. This may not be your cup of tea, but I recommend finding some time each week for you and your cup of tea. Consider human nature and the world. Get out of your own head. Let your imagination run. And if your have time left over - do something creative with your newly inspired outlook. It will slow your speed. It will make your artwork better. It will make your life better.