Of Trees, Solitude, Love, Loss, and the Stubborn Symphony of Aliveness: The Best of Brain Pickings / The Marginalian 2021

From the Stoics to the snails, by way of music, matter, and the mind.


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Here are the best of these eternal echoes — as usual, a composite best: a hybrid of the pieces I poured the most heart into writing and the pieces most widely read and shared by those whose hearts they touched.

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Rilke on the Relationship Between Solitude, Love, Sex, and Creativity


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Becoming the Marginalian: After 15 Years, Brain Pickings Reborn

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James Baldwin on Love, the Illusion of Choice, and the Paradox of Freedom

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The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story of Science and Love

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Music, the Neural Harmonics of Emotion, and How Love Restrings the Brain

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The Antidote to the Irreversibility of Life: Hannah Arendt on What Forgiveness Really Means

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The Ocean and the Meaning of Life

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Richard Dawkins on the Luckiness of Death

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Probable Impossibilities: Physicist Alan Lightman on Beginnings, Endings, and What Makes Life Worth Living

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The Pattern Inside the Pattern: Fractals, the Hidden Order Beneath Chaos, and the Story of the Refugee Who Revolutionized the Mathematics of Reality

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Shifting the Silence to Find the Meaning: 95-Year-Old Artist, Poet, and Philosopher Etel Adnan on How to Live and How to Die

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The Blue Hour: A Stunning Illustrated Celebration of Nature’s Rarest Color

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Wintering: Resilience, the Wisdom of Sadness, and How the Science of Trees Illuminates the Art of Self-Renewal Through Difficult Times

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Love, Loss, and the Banality of Survival: Charles Darwin, His Beloved Daughter, and How We Find Meaning in Mortality

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Of Trees, Tenderness, and the Moon: Hasui Kawase’s Stunning Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1920s-1950s

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The Stoic Antidote to Frustration: Marcus Aurelius on How to Keep Your Mental Composure and Emotional Equanimity When People Let You Down

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Growing Through Grief: Derek Jarman on Gardening as Creative Redemption, Consecration of Time, and Training Ground for Presence

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The Truelove: Poet and Philosopher David Whyte on Reaching Beyond Our Limiting Beliefs About What We Deserve

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Trees, Whales, and Our Digital Future: George Dyson on Nature, Human Nature, and the Relationship Between Our Minds and Our Machines

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Music and the Mystery of Aliveness

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The Blue Horses of Our Destiny: Artist Franz Marc, the Wisdom of Animals, and the Fight of Beauty Against Brutality

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Thich Nhat Hanh on the Art of Deep Listening and the 3 Buddhist Steps to Repairing a Relationship

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Orwell’s Roses: Rebecca Solnit on How Nature Sustains Us, Beauty as Fuel for Change, and the Value of the Meaningless Things That Give Our Lives Meaning

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When Your Parents Are Dying: Some of the Simplest, Most Difficult and Redemptive Life-Advice You’ll Ever Receive

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The Art of Solitude: Buddhist Scholar and Teacher Stephen Batchelor on Contemplative Practice and Creativity

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The Good Luck of Your Bad Luck: Marcus Aurelius on the Stoic Strategy for Weathering Life’s Waves and Turning Suffering into Strength

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