What to Read This Weekend: Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity, Wesley Yang on Paper Tigers, and Wendell Berry on Quiet


Hi everyone,

Here are this week’s reading picks.

1. Elizabeth Gilbert, on nurturing creativity: OK, so this is not really something to read. It’s the author of Eat, Pray, Love (which I have never read, actually, but I plan to now) delivering a TED talk on creativity.  Absolutely mesmerizing. There’s a transcript available if you prefer to read it, but don’t!

2.  “Paper Tigers,” by Wesley Yang: Highly provocative piece in New York Magazine asking “What Happens to all the Asian-American Over-Achievers When The Test-Taking Ends?” Whether you agree or disagree with Yang’s take, it’s a fascinating read.

3. Wendell Berry, “I Go Among Things and Sit Still” — this one is courtesy of Mark, a regular reader of this blog.  I’d never heard of this poem until he mentioned it the other day. Here it is:

Wendell Berry

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.


-Have a great weekend!





  1. Danielle on 14.05.2011 at 07:38 (Reply)

    Dear Susan:

    How beautiful and how true, at least for me. It speaks of fear and that is exactly what I have to deal with at the present time in my life. I am trying to dominate my fear, but I realize it won’t leave until I have faced it. I’ll let you know how things go.

  2. Karen Mackey on 14.05.2011 at 07:51 (Reply)

    very beautiful and so true of the fear in many instances

  3. Mark on 14.05.2011 at 09:42 (Reply)

    Glad you liked the poem, Susan. And, I am happy others find something in it as well.

    Five or six years ago, a friend gave me “A Timbered Choir — The Sabbath Poems 1979 — 1997″ by Wendell Berry. The poem you reference is the first in this collection.

    Know peace.

  4. Danielle on 14.05.2011 at 13:05 (Reply)


    Thank you for the information. I will look it up at my local bookstore. I Go Among Things and Sit Still truly speaks to me.

    Peace to you.


    P.S. Have a good week-end Susan.

  5. Danielle on 15.05.2011 at 07:50 (Reply)

    I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert with great interest. What she stated rang so true to me. When I went back to school full-time for a full year some time ago, our teachers told us not to concentrate only on the end result but to enjoy the journey. Their words of wisdom allowed us to savour the daily experience of our trials and tribulations and made the end result even more satisfying. Thanks to the constant support of these teachers who rebuilt not only my business skills but also my confidence, I often look back on that year with great fondness.

  6. Patricia on 15.05.2011 at 17:22 (Reply)

    I so enjoyed your recommendations this week - thank you. I am quite a Wendell Berry fan and had not read this poem before myself, Thank you Mark for sharing it and Susan for passing it on here.

    I have clicked on Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk several times, when I feel weary and uncreative and it always sparks my interest. I also liked her book Committed - really a study about marriage not just her own journey again. I would encourage you to enjoy also: Naked in Eden by Robin Easton (blog by same name) and Poser by Claire Dederer (Gilbert wrote the preface)(I don’t know how to underline in comments!)

    Now off to read about those disappearing Asian whiz kids in the future?

  7. Tamara on 16.05.2011 at 22:41 (Reply)

    Elizabeth Gilbert - seriously??? Read her book and if you’re as smart as you seem in your writing, you’ll never recommend her again. There’s no protagonist more narcissistic, unlikeable, and NOT wise than her.

  8. Start Points | Amanda Fenton on 16.11.2012 at 02:16

    […] Shared from Kara Pecknold - I Go Among Things and Sit Still by Wendell Berry […]

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1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

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