Opinion: Taylor Swift is the litmus test for your year in culture

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Photo Illustration by Alberto Mier/CNN/WireImage/Getty Images/Warner Bros Pictures/Universal Pictures

Editor’s Note: Sign up to get this weekly column as a newsletter. We’re looking back at the strongest, smartest opinion takes of the week from CNN and other outlets.CNN — 

Robert Lowell once wrote of fellow American poet Sylvia Plath, “Though lines get repeated, and sometimes the plot is lost, language never dies in her mouth.” His 1966 foreword to her legendary second collection “Ariel,” published posthumously after Plath’s suicide in 1963, goes on to characterize the poet as the mistress of “controlled hallucination” — part Medea, part vampire. And yet, the image he constructs of a poet who, despite whatever else she may be known for, is defined by the power of her voice and the vitality of her art, feels prescient too.

To be minimized or compared to a monster, even as one is lauded for one’s creative power is a familiar arc for another master of performance and irony, Taylor Swift. Where Lowell saw repeated lines, other critics found referential power in Plath’s recurring imagery; for Swift, that authority (not to mention intimacy with her many millions of fans) takes the form of repetition by easter egg, coded iykyk messages that bring referentiality to a new level entirely.

It’s not breaking news to suggest that 2023 itself was Taylor’s Version, but even that is part of something bigger. This was a year when women and girls — from the ones who traded friendship bracelets at the Eras Tour and dressed up for Beyoncé’s Renaissance shows to those who lined up for screenings of “Barbie” and took group outings to “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” — looked at a political landscape that has increasingly robbed them of their agency and said, “Nope.” Their voices demanded joy, community and self-expression; they drove more than the cultural narrative this year — they were the engine of the American economy and so much more.  

Team ‘Gonna Be Forever’ vs. Team ‘Gonna Go Down in Flames’

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have dinner at Waverly Inn on October 15 in New York.

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have dinner at Waverly Inn on October 15 in New York.Gotham/GC Images/Getty Images

Taylor Swift was the undisputed queen of capitalism this year, noted Jeff Yang, staging performances that generated “enough money to support 3,300 jobs” and harnessing her penchant for reinvention into a financial juggernaut with the Eras Tour. “I admit to personally being a begrudging fan, not just of her music, but of her incredible sense of enterprise,” reflected Yang. “I take mental notes with every new move she makes — and if someone else doesn’t write a bestselling business tome detailing the lessons would-be moguls should learn from Swift’s savvy, I will. Are you ready for it?”

In addition to being named Time’s Person of the Year, Swift was also the better half of the “couple of the hour,” observed Jill Filipovic; Swift and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce are “young, gorgeous, at the top of their respective games and seemingly in the throes of an intense new love. They’re also a surprisingly positive relationship model for men and women alike,” Filipovic opined, praising Kelce for his willingness to show up as Mr. Taylor Swift. “In a moment of what feels like peak male insecurity, the Taylor-Travis relationship is a useful model: two ambitious adults, both excellent at what they do, but the female half of the couple is both more successful and a higher earner, by a huge margin — and the male half seems totally fine with that.”

Like every love story, this one comes with a potential dark side. Frankie de la Cretaz pointed out that “regardless of if the two go on to date long term or never see each other again, the way sports media has handled the news about the potential relationship has revealed a lot about the way heterosexual male entitlement still permeates so much of mainstream culture.” To de la Cretaz, it all came off as “a bunch of male journalists patting some dude on the back for getting with the hottest girl in school.”

For more:

Holly Thomas: Here’s who should have won Time’s ‘Person of the Year’

Dean Obeidallah: ‘Haters gonna hate,’ so Taylor Swift wants her fans to vote them out

Barbie and The Bomb

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Universal Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures

July 21 was a pivotal point in the year — dividing it into BB, Before Barbenheimer, and AB, After Barbenheimer, which is still ongoing, with the billion-dollar “Barbie” now out on streaming and both movies nominated for a combined 17 Golden Globes. (The distributor of “Barbie” and CNN share a parent company, Warner Brothers Discovery.)

But as scholars of nuclear history Aanchal Saraf and Rebecca Hogue explained, “This portmanteau of ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ arose not just because they were blockbusters set for release on the same day, but also because the films seemed diametrically opposed — technicolor pinks and plastic fantastic vs. a desaturated and moody biopic. Upon closer analysis, the juxtaposition resonates precisely because it relies on a visual language as old as the IPs it is mining. Barbenheimer has crucial predecessors, cultural moments that combined sex and nuclear weapons to convince the world that we should ‘learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.’” In critiquing “Barbenheimer’s collaging of bombs and bombshells,” Saraf and Hogue uncovered new ways to see everything from the history of the bikini to “Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan’s approach to writing women. (If the film were to have another title, they wrote, “‘Atomic Playboy’ would be well-suited.”)

The domination of director Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” could not be disputed, and yet, as Dean Obeidallah marveled, voices on the right were still calling for a boycott for purported reasons ranging from the film being too “woke” to “brainwashing young girls.” “But they learned they are no match for the Mattel doll,” Obeidallah wrote. “Barbie — metaphorically speaking — drove her pink Dreamcamper right over these critics, breaking box-office records.”

For Holly Thomas, the best thing about “Barbie” came as a bit of a surprise: it was Ken, Barbie’s non-boyfriend. Thomas wrote that in becoming “Kenough,” actor Ryan Gosling “dashed one of Hollywood’s most tedious clichés, proving that it is possible to transform into a marshmallow-for-brains ‘himbo’ without turning into an egomaniacal nightmare.

Jill Filipovic: How Barbie’s billion-dollar summer could help smash the patriarchy

Sara Stewart: Barbie doesn’t belong in a box

Gene Seymour: ‘Oppenheimer’ is a different kind of movie

AI is here, and we can’t handle it

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Clay Jones

CNN Opinion did a deep dive on artificial intelligence this year, looking at the promise and the peril of how AI will affect our lives, the way we work and how we understand ourselves. Jessica Chia and Bethany Cianciolo spoke with computer science professor Stuart Russell about how AI has evolved over the decades, how large language models like ChatGPT work, the importance of regulation and his fears about where the technology might go in the future. Russell said the goal isn’t to stop AI “from becoming more intelligent than humans. The goal is that as it becomes more powerful, we enforce certain design constraints that result in it being controllable and it being safe. Airplanes go faster than people, but they have to be safe in order for you to be carrying passengers in them.” Chia and Cianciolo also gathered a roundup of experts across industries including medicine, art, law, retail, film, agriculture, education and tech to ask: “How will AI change the nature of work?” Read their various answers here.

When it comes to AI, not all the questions about the potential impact remain open. Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn, directors of the documentary “Another Body,” wrote that advances in AI have already had a devastating impact on women, as deepfake pornography has become increasingly common. They called for the criminalization of nonconsensual deepfake pornography, with federal laws targeting both creators and platforms.

High school senior Sidhi Dhanda spoke up for more teachers to embrace AI, arguing that AI chatbots are an essential tool in education that have helped her sharpen her own ideas: “I understand that some believe using AI chatbot-generated ideas as your own is plagiarism,” she acknowledged. “But is brainstorming with an AI chatbot plagiarism? I know that brainstorming with another student isn’t. It’s a question that deserves careful consideration, not a knee-jerk response.

For more on AI:

Jere Hester: The fifth Beatle is artificial intelligence

Will Leitch: What the Sports Illustrated AI debacle is telling us

Is this the last acceptable bias?


Photo illustration: Jason Lancaster/CNN/Adobe Stock

What does it mean to live in the age of Ozempic? For many Americans who have struggled for years with their weight and any associated health problems, a diabetes drug has been an effective means of treating obesity — as long as they keep taking it. Studies show that most patients who stop taking the medication gain the weight back. Meanwhile, the cultural ubiquity of Ozempic and Wegovy (both brand names for the drug semaglutide) as diet aids has spawned celebrity testimonials and thinkpieces galore.

Kirsi Goldynia and I spoke with journalist Virginia Sole-Smith about the Ozempic craze (along with a number of other topics, including accessibility of medical care and the outdated use of the Body Mass Index). Sole-Smith warns that proponents of weight-loss drugs miss the big picture: the prevalence of a diet culture that brands certain bodies acceptable, beautiful, healthy or worth seeing and relegates others to the corners marked “diseased,” “ugly,” “lazy” or “just doesn’t care enough about being healthy.” When considered in this context, Ozempic isn’t a wonder drug. Its popularity is a manifestation of a dangerous and pervasive message. As she put it to us: “If we can make fat people thin, does that make it OK to hate fat people?”

For more on weight-loss drugs:

Simon C. CorkPopular weight loss drugs carry some worrisome risks

Living in a state of climate emergency


Ian Berry/CNN

Climate anxiety is a way of life for many of us, especially for Gen Z. For Anna Lee, it’s robbing her of a future she wants. Lee wrote movingly about why anxiety and anger over climate change have led her to believe, at age 21, that she’ll never have children (ones she’s already named in her imagination): “As temperatures rise and climate policy continues to shake public confidence, the vision for my ideal family looks less, well, ideal. Clamoring voices and pattering feet, the opportunities reaped from my family’s generational sacrifice and the lifelong commitment to raising someone to their greatest potential, have been replaced with depressing alternatives. At most, there’s a frustratingly clean, one-bedroom house, with hours to fill and quiet pervading the halls. But, unless there’s drastic change, and soon, Athena and William will only remain names.”

Question: How many climate deniers does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: What are you talking about, the bulb is fine. “See,” argued climate scientist Bill McGuire, “it is possible to laugh in the face of climate change. In fact, not only is it possible, it is essential.” McGuire is part of a growing number of climate scientists performing alongside comedians to get their point across. After the COP28 conference late in the year, he observed that the “world’s biggest climate joke has just ended in the United Arab Emirates, where more than 80,000 delegates — including 2,400 from the fossil fuel sector — have conspired to take the mickey. … You have to laugh — the sort of slightly hysterical laugh that quickly turns to weeping.

For more on the climate crisis in our everyday lives:

Katharine WilkinsonWhat threatens my ‘city in the forest’

Deborah Carr, Ian Sue Wing and Giacomo Falchetta: The Sunbelt was the retirement destination of choice. That was before climate change

Musical messages

Beyonce at THE 65TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS, broadcasting live Sunday, February 5, 2023

Beyoncé at the 65th Grammy Awards, on February 5, 2023.Francis Specker/CBS

With Beyoncé, Lizzo, Kim Petras and more, the 65th annual Grammy Awards brought some needed joy, wrote radio host and author Clay Cane: “Once upon a time, you would rarely hear a superstar such as Beyoncé openly thank her LGBTQ fan base on a world stage, but her thanks go beyond a speech. Her ‘Renaissance’ project showcases queer — specifically, Black queer — artists, and they were rewarded with album credits.”

In the world of country music, Maren Morris’ EP “The Bridge” and her comments about departing the industry are indicative of a broader battle between those seeking to deepen the industry’s ties to right-wing politics and those who want a more inclusive, representative and more historically-rooted version of Americana, folk and country music, contended historian Nicole Hemmer. That broader battle — one side embodied in singers such as Jason Aldean and the other by Black Opry founder Holly G, Lil Nas X, Morris and others — isn’t new, observes Hemmer, but it does capture the genre’s vexed history and its politically saturated present.

For more on music in 2023:

Nicole Hemmer: Jason Aldean can’t rewrite the history his song depends on

Mary Gabriel: Madonna’s ‘Celebration Tour’ is her most radical LGBTQ statement in decades

Ximena N. Beltran Quan Kiu: Shakira is reminding us about a universal truth

Family ties

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Adobe Stock

After remarks by right-wing commentator Steven Crowder about his own divorce went viral, writer Caroline Shanley connected Crowder’s comments to a growing number of proposals in conservative-dominated states to overturn no-fault divorce, arguing that the moral panic over divorce amplifies misogyny while ignoring history. She wrote: “Panic over the ‘rising’ divorce rate – real or imagined – has long been an unjust scapegoat for societal decay. Echoed in the courtrooms, newspapers and other sources of commentary in the 19th century, this conflation of divorce and the doom it spells for families is as American as apple pie.

There are better ways to rethink the government’s role in making a family, maintained Alison Omens, who described living in fear that her husband could die before her stepchildren turn 18, shattering the legal basis for the bonds they share. Asserting that it’s time to reimagine how the state understands a family and that her kids make no distinction between the depth of her love for them and that of their dad’s, she opined: “It’s us, the grown-ups, who made that distinction. And it’s within our power, as grown-ups, to change these laws to better care for the ever-increasing number of children who are living in non-traditional families, and in this case, blended families. As a non-legal mom, I’m asking for a seat at the table for the kids I’m raising, because their dad chose me, and I chose all three of them.”

For more:

Patricia GrisafiJoe Jonas’ narrative about Sophie Turner won’t work

Sara StewartWhy I’m hoping ‘motherhood spectrum’ will be the new ‘sober curious’

Rebecca Bodenheimer: Shiv Roy’s pregnancy reveals the heart of ‘Succession’

The power of fantasy

Emma Stone in POOR THINGS.

Emma Stone in “Poor Things.”Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures

In a year that has seen one hit after another to women’s rights, it’s no wonder that fantasy is here with a vengeance — and to that end, Victorian-era raunch-fest “Poor Things” is a welcome, hilarious and salacious escape, wrote culture critic Sara Stewart, who called the film a “fantastically physical feminist creation” that goes where “Barbie” couldn’t. While it’s “tragic that freedom from shame and patriarchy is such fantasy terrain, it’s also a hoot to watch.” In a world where reproductive rights are under assault and women and girls face alarming violence with little recourse, this movie is, in short, “a comic balm for the soul and an artistic exhortation to better things.”

The power of fantasy isn’t always a good thing, warned historian Shaun Armstead, at least when it comes to historical treatments of race. Writing of “Bridgerton” prequel “Queen Charlotte,” Armstead argued while its efforts to expand representation on television put it in dialogue with shows as various as “Pose,” “Insecure” and “P-Valley,” its treatment of history problematically offered viewers “a racially integrated world that upholds Eurocentric paradigms. … Reimagining history in this way ignores the painful truths of the era. Such creative departures unmooring ‘Bridgerton’ from the past are, in my opinion, alarming. We are served a sanitized version of history at the very moment when more accurate narratives of the past are under attack.

For more on the power of fantasy:

Nicole Hemmer‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ and the growing genre of liberal wish fulfillment

Noah Berlatsky: ‘The Boy and the Heron’ is a legendary director’s radical take on imagination

Jeff Yang: I’ve loved musicals my whole life. This one changed how I see them

Roy SchwartzWhat you need to know about Captain America’s real secret identity

Hannah PhamWhy this Oscars favorite had me sobbing uncontrollably

Need a laugh? You’re not alone

Never Have I Ever. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi in episode 302 of Never Have I Ever.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan as Devi in “Never Have I Ever.”Courtesy of Netflix

Just because we need a laugh doesn’t mean we’re not out to learn something. For a quick hit of comedy, check out these smart takes that would make Thalia, the Greek goddess of comedy, proud:

Raakhee Mirchandani: This TV mom changed everything

David M. Perry: ‘Mrs. Maisel’ isn’t perfect, but it’s what I need

Regina Kim: ‘Joy Ride’ is the Asian American-centered movie that all audiences need to see

Noah BerlatskyWe’re in the midst of anti-sex backlash that has ensnared Jennifer Lawrence’s new romcom

Amy Klein: Why ‘Old Dads’ made me so mad

Neil J. Young: ‘Strays’ is a raunchy, hilarious reminder of a real problem

Adaptation as battle cry

Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in the film adaptation of Judy Blume's "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret"

Rachel McAdams and Abby Ryder Fortson in the film adaptation of Judy Blume’s “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret”Courtesy Lionsgate Films

“Books are books and movies are movies, and there are some things books can do that movies can’t — and vice versa,” wrote culture critic Gene Seymour of writer/director Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction,” adapted from Percival Everett’s 2001 novel “Erasure.” The film conjoins racial satire with family drama and, in a post-George Floyd moment, “by its very existence, seems to have rendered what it’s satirizing almost obsolete,” Seymour noted.

Another relevant novel got the adaptation treatment this year: Sandra Newman’s novel “Julia” reimagined George Orwell’s “1984” through a feminist lens and joined a long tradition of fictional retellings that reimagine a classic work’s protagonist through the eyes of a marginalized character. Historian Laura Beers opined: “Newman’s attempt to turn Orwell’s Oceania on its head and look at it from the perspective of a woman never granted the dignity of a last name is in many ways not dissimilar to this summer’s blockbuster attempt to reclaim ‘Barbie’ for feminism. Like Barbie Handler, Julia Worthing is a product of the patriarchy who refuses to stay in the box and let herself be objectified and diminished. She insists on being the heroine of her own story and, in doing so, pushes Winston Smith into a life of blond fragility.”

Another take:

Sara Stewart: This good-hearted movie makes for a hell of a battle cry

Unforgettable moments in sports

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Simone Biles of the U.S. in action on the floor during the women's apparatus finals

Simone Biles at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, on October 8, 2023.Yves Herman/Reuters

Simone Biles had a comeback for the ages, returning to gymnastics to break records at the US National Championships and at the World Championships. Onnie Willis Rogers, a former collegiate champion gymnast at UCLA, wrote of Biles’ triumphant return to the sport: “It’s not just her gymnastic brilliance that is causing jaws to drop … She has also changed the narrative about who gets to be a champion, and who gets to excel at the thing they love. … Beyond gymnastics, Biles offers us something else to embrace: the lesson that we have the power to change restrictive narratives that do not serve us. Expectations about ‘how things are supposed to go’ in our careers can help us, but they can also limit us.”

Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin and his devastating injury during an NFL game was among the top Google searches this year. Former NFL player Coy Wire recalled being on the field in 2007 when play continued after two catastrophic injuries. Players are trained to ignore their pain, wrote Wire, and the cessation of play after Hamlin’s injury showed him how much his own perspective has changed since he was a player: “Someday we may look back and see that this was the moment where it all changed … and it became clear that prioritizing players’ health, both mental and physical, truly is the right thing to do.” Jeff Pearlman, who spoke with the son of Chuck Hughes, the only NFL player to die during a game, asked: “Can we question the wisdom of grown men slamming into grown men? Can we debate whether youth tackle leagues are life-affirming, or insane?

For more big moments in sports:

Will Leitch: College football is eating its institutions alive

Amira Rose Davis: Sha’Carri Richardson says she’s now embracing the most important cause of all

Holly Thomas: Why the Spanish soccer chief’s puerile showdown is so toxic

Amy BassUS loss at Women’s World Cup sends a clear message

Roxanne JonesThe way to respect starts with raising your voice

Our obsession with murder stories

Kenneth Branagh in "A Haunting in Venice"

Kenneth Branagh in “A Haunting in Venice”20th Century Studios

Sometimes fictional murder stories use gore to make a much-needed point, contended Sara Stewart. Thirty years after “Heathers” blew open what teen girls could do on screen, the satirical comedy “Bottoms” and indie horror film “Perpetrators” are movies that put their blood-stained fingers on the pulse of real terror. “Yeah: This is dark stuff,” Stewart agreed. “Maybe even tasteless. But it’s not nearly as dark as recent studies about how much violence and trauma girls are experiencing in real life. Can a movie be a goofy sex comedy and also make you stop and think about the real life and suffering of teen girls? Demonstrably, yes.”

Writing of Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptation “A Haunting in Venice,” Noah Berlatsky noted that it’s no spoiler to say that Hercule Poirot, as usual, solves the case — but only after a number of people have died. That’s because the genre of “cozy” detective fiction — think Christie but also “Murder, She Wrote” — is about more than who solves the case and how. Berlatsky asserted that these neat endings and tidy solutions, while pleasurable, also stifle empathy in favor of indifference to a rising body count: “’A Haunting in Venice’ shows once again, though, that turning murder into a parlor game is often less harmless fun and more blank bloodthirstiness.

So what happens when it’s a real-life murder story, and it’s not pleasure, but obsession? “For as long as humans have consumed media” — going back to 18th and 19th century murder ballads and scandal sheets — “we have been drawn to stories about the dark corners of human experience,” wrote author Rachel Monroe about the American fascination with true crime narratives after the horrific killings of four University of Idaho students. “True crime stories can bring out our best and worst instincts. Empathy can curdle into voyeurism; a desire for justice can cross the line into demands for vengeance.”

For another take on true crime:

Kara AlaimoThe ‘Gilgo Four’ case raises an uncomfortable truth

‘All will be well’

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Illustrartion by Leah Abucayan/CNN

April is the cruelest month, but anyone who says that probably hasn’t experienced the end of a school year in May, wrote poet Tess Taylor. Burnout is everywhere, but sometimes finding our way through it is not about finding time to ourselves — it’s about working in community, affirmed Taylor: “When we volunteer or work with others, we alter our orientation to ourselves, to one another, to our path in the world, even if only for a few hours. In a world that’s been deeply uneasy, in which tempers often flare, we build spaces, where we can, for just a little bit, live in deeper communion with one another.

After Charlize Theron made comments over the summer blasting the suggestions that she’d had plastic surgery, Holly Thomas reflected on the deeper implications of the increasing obsession with “what we’re doing about our faces” these days. Thomas observed that “normalizing the visible effects of aging isn’t just important because of body positivity and the fact that most supposedly effective options are financially out of reach for most people. The fine lines emerging around our eyes serve as a vital reminder that the most important thing about growing older, the slippage of time through our fingers, is completely out of our control. What we do with our time, as opposed to how we look while we’re doing it, is the point.”

After a breast cancer diagnosis, facing being immunocompromised and unforgiving side effects from treatment, Maggie Mulqueen recounted how her “world became quite small.” Her love of reading kept her going. Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels and Nancy Drew mysteries “would transport me to a different world … I found comfort in seeing the pile of books on my nightstand grow … Knowing that I would not run out of books, no matter how many sleepless nights I might be facing, calmed me. … With my limited energy, I plowed through one book after the next, relishing (the) mantra, ‘All will be well.’ I whispered these words to myself before every medical intervention,” she wrote.

More insightful takes:

Deborah CarrFive life lessons to learn watching ‘The Golden Bachelor’

Euny HongWhat ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ have in common

Samira Jafari and Richard RothHow a coworker’s email saved his life and renewed hers

First person on the money

Azul Blaquier: If you think the US has it bad, look to Argentina

Sophia Celentano: The last thing my airplane commute is about is entitlement

Jemal Polson: ‘I messaged 180 people and got 6 viewings.’ The crushing reality of renting in this city

Mehdi BarakchianI’ve sacrificed for a Hollywood acting career. This is where I draw the line

Rosa CruzThe last government shutdown was a disaster for me. This time could be far worse

Rachel ClarkIt’s hard to break free of generational poverty. The Supreme Court just made it harder

Bill Perkins: The moment I realized we’re saving too much for retirement

Making sense of it

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Illustration by Leah Abucayan/CNN

Headlines bellowed this year of war, poverty, climate disaster and yet more mass shootings. It’s tone-deaf, almost absurd, to encourage people to be happy, yet we live in a world obsessed with happiness. Monica C. Parker asked, “What if we’re so fixated on happiness that we’ve failed to question whether happiness is what we should be pursuing?”

Citing expert research on psychology, resilience, disaster and grief — not to mention her own personal experience of living through natural disasters and their aftermath, Parker made the case for wonder instead: “The world, the people in it, and our experiences are not binary. Two things can coexist in opposition to each other, and both can be true at the same time. Wonder embraces life’s beautiful, messy complexity in a way happiness doesn’t.”

Change is inevitable. “We are built to crave answers. Not-knowing unsettles us — but we can benefit from embracing uncertainty as a path to curiosity, adaptability and resilience, the very cognitive skills needed in times of change,” wrote Maggie Jackson, who goes swimming most days in the ocean off Rhode Island, never knowing quite what the wind and tides have in store for her and her friends.

Tess Taylor reflected on work, rest, https://menjangkau.com and “what we wish them to be in our lives” in a Labor Day essay that introduced five original poems from an anthology “for gardens & the hands that tend them.” She shared: “In a garden, we can learn to savor and appreciate and partake in the life of plants. In a poem, we can learn to savor and appreciate and partake in the life of words. In both savorings, we emerge the richer.

Thank you, our readers, for helping us to savor and emerge the richer this year. There will be no Provoke/Persuade newsletter on December 24. We’ll miss you next week and wish you and yours a joyful and healthy holiday season.

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