...they needed someone to explain, to spin, the parts of the tale that couldn't be suppressed. Someone reputable and educated. Someone brilliant yet absolutely committed to the faith. Someone like my father.
Basic human contact - the meeting of eyes, the exchanging of words - is to the psyche what oxygen is to the brain. If you're feeling abandoned by the world, interact with anyone you can.
In one century, we've added 28 years to our average life span - a change so rapid that our brains couldn't possibly have evolved to accommodate it.
Realizing that we've surrendered our self-esteem to others and choosing to be accountable for our own self-worth would mean absorbing the terrifying fact that we're always vulnerable to pain and loss.
Whoever said love is blind is dead wrong. Love is the only thing that lets us see each other with the remotest accuracy.
Our culture has created two almost irreconcilable descriptions of a 'good woman.' The first is the individual achiever; the second, the self-sacrificing domestic goddess.
Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven't had our coffee, in which case we feel 107.
Something in the human psyche confuses beauty with the right to be loved. The briefest glance at human folly reveals that good looks and worthiness operate independently. Yet countless socializing forces, from Aunt Clara to the latest perfume ad, reinforce beliefs like 'If I were pretty enough, I would be loved.'
To make an activity joyful, keep adding things until the activity as a whole becomes more appealing than repulsing.
At times in my life, I have been utterly lonely. At other times, I've had disgusting infectious diseases. Try admitting these things in our culture.
What laughter is to childhood, sex is to adolescence.
Ten bajillion product ads notwithstanding, your looks are another thing that's basically genetic.
If you're totally sedentary and eat 2,500 calories a day, don't instantly go to 1,200 calories and hours of aerobics - your weight loss will be sudden and violent, but also fleeting.
I feel about aging the way William Saroyan said he felt about death: Everybody has to do it, but I always believed an exception would be made in my case.
Life is full of tough decisions, and nothing makes them easy. But the worst ones are really your personal koans, and tormenting ambivalence is just the sense of satori rising. Try, trust, try, and trust again, and eventually you'll feel your mind change its focus to a new level of understanding.
If you're feeling intransigently ambivalent, it might pay to formally accept what's already happening - that is, decide not to decide.
If we're stuck with having expectations, there's a very good reason to embrace positive ones: It's that we often create what we anticipate.
Ten years ago, I still feared loss enough to abandon myself in order to keep things stable. I'd smile when I was sad, pretend to like people who appalled me. What I now know is that losses aren't cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing.
Standards of beauty are arbitrary. Body shame exists only to the extent that our physiques don't match our own beliefs about how we should look.
Western democracies exalt the ideal of social equality, but our economic system arguably emerged from 16th-century Calvinism, a religion whose members believed that God showed favor by bestowing wealth and other forms of success on what they called 'the chosen.'