What a deliciously cool morning it was today when I took my dog for a walk. I even had to put on a flannel shirt for the first time since March, but I’m not complaining. I’ll take cool any day over the blistering summer heat.
Every now and then I receive a newsletter from Brain Pickings.org that has interesting articles about all sorts of things. A recent one, The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love, written by Maria Popova was about love and relationships and solitude. She cited such luminaries as psychologist Esther Perel and poet Rainer Maria Rilke who offered sage, if a bit wordy, advice about the importance of separateness and time alone in a sustaining a strong relationship. Rilke wrote,
… once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!
I liked that image of seeing each other as whole individuals standing against a wide sky, and I thought of how that applied to the relationship I had with my husband. In the forty-seven years we spent together, Carl and I instinctively knew the importance of alone-time. It wasn’t something we learned from an expert on marriage, we just knew we both needed space sometimes. Me because writing is such a solitary endeavor, and him because he had grown up pretty much as a loner.
Carl was the youngest of four, an oops late in the marriage of his parents, so his siblings were gone from the house by the time Carl was a pre-teen. Then his father was diagnosed with bone cancer and spent several years in and out of the hospital for treatment. Carl’s mother split her days between work and hours at the hospital with her husband, leaving Carl alone for hours at a time.
That aloneness became a comforting companion, and something that colored Carl’s personality the rest of his life.
After Carl retired and we moved to the last house we lived in together, we didn’t often spend time separated by miles, but we could be separated in the house all day. Me working in my office and him in the living room watching television, or out on the deck reading. We’d come together for lunch and dinner, but then be apart again. And that was okay. We were happy. And I think our understanding of the need for separateness, and respect for it, was something that had sustained us through those forty-seven years.
Something else I read at Brain Pickings, was a review of the book, The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone. It is the story of Elizebeth Friedman, an unsung heroine of cryptography during WWII. She was college educated, focusing on languages, and started her work for George Fabyon at Riverbank Laboratories , who hired her to break a cipher that was at the heart of the theory that Frances Bacon actually wrote the Shakespeare Plays.
By the time war broke out, Elizebeth was married to William Friedman, and the couple was hired by the Naval Coast Guard to decipher Nazi communications. Attitudes toward women in any role of importance being what it was at that time, J. Edgar Hoover took the credit for much of the work that Elizabeth did. So it is no surprise that many of us probably have never heard of Elizebeth Friedman, or the amazing work she did as America’s foremost mind decrypting Nazi communication.
Now for a little fun to start the week off with a smile. The joke is from Laugh Factory.com; a good place to visit any day of the week for a good chuckle.
A 92 year old man is walking through a park and sees a talking frog. He picks up the frog and the frogs says, “If you kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful princess and be yours for a week.”
The old man puts the frog in his pocket. The frog screams, “Hey if you kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful princess and make love to you for a whole month.”
The old man looks at the frog and says, “At my age I’d rather have a talking frog.”
That’s it for me for today, folks. Had you heard of Elizebeth Friedman before today? Have a joke to share?