Every few years, I revisit Patti Smith’s excellent essay on performing at a Nobel Prize ceremony honoring Bob Dylan, and every few years, I retreat with something new. At first reading, I took heart in her musings on “the humiliating sting of failure.” I, too, have experienced that prickly heat, on daises far less renowned and interesting, but public nonetheless. I am thinking specifically of a pitch to a famous Chicago tech investor. I was nervous, I was rushing, my heart was beating out of my throat, and he stood up in the middle — while his peons looked on placidly — and casually threw an apple core into the trash bin, pausing to linger at the window, at what desultory street happenings might temporarily interest him. I’ll pass, was the message at the end. You’re an idiot was the subtext. There were many other fumblings in front of investors, customers, and audiences, and — later — many rounds of humiliating conversations about ending our business. My face still burns at these memories, as if cinders bearing residual and permanent heat. When I was closer to the events, I found umbrage in Smith’s reminder that we all fail: I wish I would have done better, I said. No, no, they replied, none of us wish that. For us, your performance seemed a metaphor for our own struggles. Just so.
A few years later, I found myself fixated on her statement that: “Time does not heal all wounds but gives us the tools to endure them.” It called to mind Tonkin’s “Growing-Around-Grief” model:
I took kindly to the principle that we may never “get over” or “erase” or “work through” or “quiet” our experiences with challenges, losses, and failures, but we can evolve to live with them and create more space to grapple with other matters as time passes. That has proven true in issues great and small in my life, whether grieving the loss of a friend, mourning the closing of a business, or recovering from any manner of minor heartaches and setbacks.
On this most recent reading, though, I sat in awe at the passage: “And all the things I have seen and experienced and remember will be within me, and the remorse I had felt so heavily will joyfully meld with all other moments. Seventy years of moments, seventy years of being human.”
I am awestruck by her grace in this statement. Frankly, I am awestruck at her grace in the video footage of her performance of that Dylan song at the Nobel ceremony, too. “I’m so sorry,” she says, when she can’t go on. She tries again, for a bar, then — “I’m so sorry. I’m so nervous.” Then a self-deprecating laugh, then a starting-again. “Seventy years of moments, seventy years of being human,” she says, and I imagine a soul moving steadily along its bumpy path, faring ups and downs but consistently returning to the midline axis. But her grasp on the long-view, her simultaneous resolve and apology, suggest a line graph of a different sort: here is the perch afforded by age, the loft born of experience.
+Most of the time, we are our own loudest critics.
+On returning to the posture of the novitiate.
+I also revisit “Wild Geese” every year or two. So good.
+On being humbled in a different way.
+And, I mean, this half-zip sweater dress….!!!!
+MZ Wallace lookalike for $25!
+This blouse gives off major Zimmermann vibes, but under $100. So chic for fall!
+Pretty fall napkins at a great price.
+Not really a jumpsuit person but I saw this and…! Like, do I need to go away to a cabin in the woods one crisp fall weekend and wear this while reading and sipping coffee? Yes, I do. Would be cute with high-end sneakers. (Lots of those in this post.)
+WOW this corduroy mini. So so chic.
+This dress, in the burgundy print (labeled inscrutably “bercafl” in the description), reminds me SO much of the SEA dress I wore last Thanksgiving. So chic with a little cardi over the shoulders and a burgundy padded headband.
+I have a pearl-dotted sweater similar to this Sezane that I bought from Zara a few years back that I still wear every single winter! A fab piece.
+This bag comes in such chic color combos.
+This fleece wrap sweatshirt situation is on sale for $30 and looks heavenly. I’m going to buy but can’t decide on a color…
+Matouk vibes for a little less.
+YES to this top. Stow away for a festive holiday gathering!
+Into white tops like this to pair with jeans when I’m just not inspired. I throw on all my favorite accessories at the moment and go. Currently, those accessories are: corduroy headbands, caramel shades, and heart necklaces.
+I’ve had a couple of queries about whether I’ll be testing the shacket trend. I do like it a lot and have been waiting for one in a simple neutral oatmeal color I think…but this blush gingham might be just the ticket. I like that it’s not super long (I’m only 5’0 and some styles would totally dwarf me)!
+These hyacinth chargers add depth/structure to a tabletop.
+Love this elegant sconce.
+This coat is fall perfection.
+Ordering these mittens for winter.
+Another amazing statement sweater.