"You were allowed to think what you wanted"

“I had my idea, and I was treated nice no matter what. You had your privacy and you were allowed to think what you wanted to think.”

I really liked this short NYT interview with 104-year-old Polish émigré Rose Orbach on how remarkable it felt to vote for the first time as an American citizen in 1956.

There is a certain feeling I always get inside the voting booth -- this mix of autonomy and productivity. Reading this made me think about how special it is.

"I am decisive, you know."

Anna Wintour

 

“I am decisive, you know. I don’t believe in wasting anybody’s time. I like to be honest. I like to be clear. 

In my own personal career, I have felt almost the most difficult thing to deal with is someone who doesn’t tell you what they are thinking.”

--Anna Wintour in the New York Times

 

Anna Wintour responded with her characteristic class to the latest subtly-gendered jabs in the press about her management style. Turns out, what trendy Silicon Valley people are now calling 'Radical Candor,' Anna has been doing all along.

"But, for some reason, was held back"

"Bette Midler told Patrick Healy, of the Times, that she had wanted to be a serious dramatic actress but had faltered for lack of courage. 'I have that terror,' she said. 'Will people like you? Will they ask you back? Did I make the cut? That's always on my mind.'

To hear the brash, funny, commanding (as far as we knew) Midler tell of worrying whether people would like her is painful. But, in every group of artists, the insiders can tell you who, among them, should have had a bigger career but, for some reason, was held back. 

...[Dancer Mikhail] Baryshnikov believes that it is the feeling of obligation to the audience that triggers stagefright: 'Suddenly the morality kicks in. These people bought a ticket to your show.'"

 --from the very interesting article on stagefright by Joan Acocella in the August 3 issue of the New Yorker.

 

We all know an individual who is brilliant, but also inordinately shy or reclusive. I liked Baryshnikov's comparison of such anxiety to a sudden, chastening sense of "morality" and responsibility to others.

Reading this made me sad to think of how many of the most gifted and sensitive people among us are too reticent, leaving a significant portion of success' upper echelon wide open for those who are mediocre but oddly devoid of the moral -- and perfectly natural -- inclination to occassionally check themselves and dial it back.

Literal mirages

"Now and then they are literal mirages — I see a broad-shouldered figure with blond curly hair, and my heart lifts, my pace quickens — for an instant I think, Aha! Of course! David’s back. I knew it all along. What a laugh we’ll have over this!"

 

--From a very well-written New York Times article about moving on with life after an unexpected loss (from a writer who has been dealt more than her fair share of such things), aptly titled "Replacing the Irreplacable."