The Download

We human beings are an interesting lot: quirky, colorful and creative, full of surprises and a wanderlust for life.

In another life, I would have been an anthropologist or Barbara Walters. I just love people. Nothing lights me up more than meeting a new person and learning their unique story.

Unfortunately, if an alien from Mars were to visit Earth and turn on the evening news, he or she might conclude that we are a planet full of drug dealers, murderers, terrorists and wacky politicians (The reason I stopped watching the news!).

When in reality, human beings for the most part are exceptional.

Intelligent, creative, passionate and benevolent—We are a masterpiece of percolating cells with intriguing jobs, zany passions, eclectic hobbies and big, big hearts.

Each of us is blazing our own unique trail, trying to get everything we can out of this earthly experience and discover a little joy along the way.

I imagine God gets a real kick out of us!

I’m reminded of this every time I read Kate Murphy’s weekly article, The Download, in the Sunday New York Times. I don’t know where Ms. Murphy finds her extraordinary subjects to interview, but each week she proves once again we are God’s crowning achievement.

I love this article because it lifts up humankind. It must be the Barbara Walters in me, but I also relish a little peek into the lives of these very interesting people from all over the globe. Not only are we introduced to their fascinating professions, but she also paints a colorful tableau of their personal lives: What they are listening to, reading, watching and curious about in the moment.

Take Edward Bayton Coward. He is a world-reknown seller of rare books and manuscripts in Bath, England, but he is most proud of his other job, the Queen of England’s High Sheriff. Whenever the Queen cannot be in attendance at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mr. Coward shows up in full regalia, even a special car, to stand in her stead. Another interesting tidbit about Mr. Coward is his passion for collecting 18th century portraits. To his wife’s dismay, they have 468 portraits of strangers hanging on the walls of their home (or museum!).

I found Alfred McEwan, a planetary geologist from Arizona, quite interesting. He has spent his life studying the planet Mars (He enjoyed Matt Damon’s movie, The Martian, and thought it was a good portrayal of the red planet!). In his free time, he reads sci-fi novels, travels to Iceland (most analogous to Mars) and listens to Jimi Hendrix. And then there is Anna Robbins, the costume designer for Downton Abbey. Imagine the fun dressing the Lady Dowager (Maggie Smith) in sparkly ball gowns and Lady Mary in flapper dresses. Ms. Robbins devours Russian crime novels (Murder on the Leviathan) and follows the “Corseted Beauty” on Instagram for inspiration.

I especially enjoyed Michael Egan, a famous wine detective in France (who knew you could grow up and be a wine detective!). He sniffs out counterfeit Bordeauxs for big time collectors by day, and then can be found foraging for mushrooms (cepes, the prize mushroom) with the French locals on the weekend. Monsieur Egan listens to jazz, loved the movie, Mr. Turner (about the famous artist) and is never without his James Bond-style digital microscope to test a dubious wine.

Maybe it’s just me, but we human beings are a beloved and quirky bunch. We must make God smile more than not for how we each uniquely find our way, our joy and our purpose on this planet!

In the spirit of the Download, I give you a little peek into my own life at the moment.

Farrell Mason: Mother of 6, graduate student in Divinity at Vanderbilt, blogger, spiritual writer and pastoral minister.

Reading: Oil and Marble, a work of fiction set in 1499 Florence, Italy that brings to life the tumultuous relationship between the larger-than-life (think purple scarves, ruby rings and velvet brocade) Leonardo da Vinci and the ambitious young sculptor, Michelangelo. Da Vinci is consumed with his designs for the first flying machine and his breakthrough painting of the illusive while Michelangelo is staking his claim in the art world with his David. Who knew the two maestro’s of the Renaissance probably passed each other on the Ponte Vecchio.

I have just finished The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin (author of Brooklyn). I have a passion for all things Mary. Toibin is a beautiful writer, but his take on Mary left me scratching my head. Also on the night stand are The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, Fishbowl by Bradley Somer, and Paris Stories (A collection of some of the most famous French writers like Balzac, Hugo and Colette). Recently, I have been curious about the Gospel of Thomas and the sayings attributed to Jesus. One in particular that stumps me, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

And I’m a huge fan of the poet, Mary Oliver, every single word. Like this, “I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.”

Listening: There is always music playing in our house. My favorite is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Not only is it beautiful, but it reminds me of living in France. David and I would often go to Sainte Chapelle and hear this young and dashing French violinist in leather pants (only the French!) play the violin solos like a rock star. The family playlist on Pandora right now vacillates between Adele, School of Notre Dame Cathedral, Enya, Sam Smith and Dierks Bentley.

Watching: I am gearing up to see Beyonce in concert this Thursday night in Nashville. My family doesn’t miss The Sunday Morning Show with Charles Osgood for the always meaningful human interest stories. And with the conclusion of Downton Abbey, I have moved on to The Good Wife (We are in season 3 and loving it!)

Enjoying: A ginger cookie from Whole Foods (store in the refrigerator so they are crisp) and a cup of Mighty Leaf’s Scarlet Citrus Rooibus tea!

Cooking: We just went strawberry picking (Green Door Gourmet) and came home with 7 full baskets full of organic strawberries! You can’t go wrong with a spring salad of lettuces, fresh herbs, strawberries, avocado, Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds and homemade croutons! Add chicken or salmon and you have a meal. I’m excited to make my first Key Lime Pie this weekend with the kids.

Hobby: If six kids, two dogs and a fish were not enough, we just got chickens. I know everyone says don’t name them because of their shelf life, but we have Oreo and Sunset. I can’t help myself, but I go out and check for eggs several times a day, and I’ve taken to feeding them by hand the tops of strawberries.

Life is good!

Farrell

 

3 Comments
  • Eugene Regen

    May 2, 2016 at 11:56 am Reply

    To quote Gilda Ratner, “Its always something.” This morning you afforded me many affirmative nods, punctuated finally with a broad grin from ‘ear-to-ear.’ Thanks!
    The rain may drown us, but cannot/will not otherwise dampen the human spirit.

  • Sally Lee

    May 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm Reply

    Wow woman, you have a baby and five older children and you still have time to read a column in the New York Times every week. Ouch! As for being fond of Mary, try Woman of the Land by Louise Colln. If you can’t find it on Amazon, Louise lives in Franklin TN and probably has some copies. Or ask at Landmark Bookstore there

  • Diane Tucker

    May 2, 2016 at 1:58 pm Reply

    You, my dear friend, are a hoot! Hugs!

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