A foreig ner's first impressi on of the US is likely to be that every one is in a rush —ofte n un der pressure. City people always appear to be hurry ing to get where they are going, restlessly seek ing atte nti on in a store, or elbow ing others as they try to complete their shopp ing. Racing through daytime meals is part of the pace of life in this country. Working time is considered precious. Others in public eating-places are waiting for you to finish so they, too, can be served and get back to work with in the time allowed. You also find drivers will be abrupt and people will push past you. You will miss smiles, brief con versati ons, and small excha nges with stra ngers. Don't take it pers on ally. This is because people value time highly, and they rese nt some one else "wast ing" it bey ond a certa in appropriate point.
"To start with I must admit that at first I harbored reservations about a mixed marriage, prejudices you might eve n call them. But whe n I met Mark I found him a charm ing and in tellige nt young guy. Any mother would be proud to have him for a son-in-law. So, color has nothing to do with it. Yes, my friends talk. Some even express shock at what you are doing. But they live in a differe nt world. So you see, Mark's color is not the problem. My biggest worry is that you may be marrying Mark for the same wrong reasons that I married your father. When we met I saw him as mybeloved, i ntellige nt, charm ing, and cari ng. It was all so n ew, all so excit ing, and we both thought, on the surface at least, that ours was an ideal marriage with every in dicati on that it would last forever. I realized only later that I did n't know my beloved, your father, very well when we married."
Soon after he volunteered for military service, he had received a book from this woman. A letter, which wished him courage and safety, came with the book. He discovered that many of his frie nds, also in the army, had received the ide ntical book from the woma n, Hollis Meyn ell. And while they all got stre ngth from it, and appreciated her support of their cause, Joh n Bla ndford was the only pers on to write Ms. Meynell back. On the day of his departure, to a destination overseas where he would fight in the war, he received her reply. Aboard the cargo ship that was taking him into enemy territory, he stood on the deck and read her letter to him again and aga in.
Whe n I travel to Third World coun tries I see many people like my father and daughter. There are large advertiseme nt sig ns directed at them both: the tough,c on fide nt or fashi on able older man, the beautiful, "worldly" young woma n, bothdragg ing
away .In these poor coun tries, as in America n inner cities and on reservati ons, money that should be spe nt for food goes in stead to the tobaccocompa ni es; over time, people starve themselves of both food and air, effectivelyweake ning and hook ing their childre n, eve ntually killi ng themselves. I read in the newspaper and in my garde ning magaz ine that the ends of cigarettes are so poisonousthat if a baby swallows one, it is likely to die, and that the boiled water froma bunch of them makes an effective in secticide.
Naturally, the n ame cha nge did n't cause Debbie/L ynn e's professionalachievement —but it surely helped if only by adding a bit of self-c on fide nee to her
tale nts. Social scie ntists say that what you're called can affect your life.Throughout history, names have not merely identified people but also described them."As his n ame is, so is he." says the Bible, and Webster's Dicti onary in cludes thefollow ing definition of name: "a word or words expressing some quality con sideredcharacteristic or descriptive of a pers on or a thi ng, ofte n express ing approval or disapproval". Note well "approval or disapproval". For better or worse, qualities such as frie ndli ness or reserve, pla inn ess or charm may be suggested by your n ame and con veyed to other people before they eve n meet you.
Eliot says researchers have found that stressed people have higher cholesterol levels, among other things. "We've done years of work in showing that excess alarm or stress chemicals can literally burst heart muscle fibers. When that happens it happe ns very quickly, within five minu tes. It creates many short circuits, and that causes crazy heart rhythms. The heart beats like a bag of worms in stead of a pump. And whe n that happe ns, we can't live."
Eliot, 64, suffered a heart attack at age 44. He attributes some of the cause to stress. For years he was a "hot reactor". On the exterior, he was cool, calm and collected,
but on the interior, stress was killing him. He's now doing very well.
While it's true all of us n eed a career, preferably a prosperous on e, it is equally true that our civilizati on has collected an in credible amount of kno wledge in fields far removed from our own. And we are better for our un dersta nding of these other contributions —be they scientific or artistic. It is equally true that, in studying the diverse wisdom of others, we lear n how to thi nk. More importa ntly, perhaps, educati on teaches us to see the conn ecti ons betwee n thin gs, as well as to see bey on dour immediate n eeds.
Weekly we read of unions that went on strike for higher wages, only to drive theiremployer out of bus in ess. No compa ny, no job. How short-sighted in the long run.
After a while, I was give n an assig nment to cover diplomats at various
Africa nembassies. Then, seve n years after I started, I was assig ned by the Sun to coverthe White House. Report ing from the Oval Office was as close to heave n as a jour nalistcould get. I looked forward to see ing the delight on my mother's face whe n I toldher. Con sideri ng the on ward and upward course she had set for me, I should have known better.
Her weak praise did n't corresp ond to my achieveme nt. No matter what I did, any accomplishme nt of mine only seemed marginal in her eyes. This would ofte n make mecrazy. She would n ever con gratulate me or make any con cessi on that I was doing greatth in gs. There was always someth ing n egative to be said, eve n whe n Isucceeded.