The Dark Feels Different in November


Best of 2017

We’re away until January 3, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2017. Enjoy your holiday!

Godfried Schalcken, Young Girl with a Candle (detail), 1670–1675.

“I’m in the November of my life,” said Francesca, a fifty-eight-year-old curator with good shoulders and dark lively eyes and dark wavy hair and a laugh that came from deep in her gut. Two years ago, she was told she had two-and-a-half years to live. “This was my relationship with death before,” she said, holding her arms apart at full wingspan. “Knew it would happen. Never thought about it.” Then she brought her index fingers together so they touched in front of her chest. “This was the diagnosis.” Death was on top of her. The stamp of an expiration date on her forehead annihilated all other thought. In time, and with titanic mental effort, the initial all-consuming horror gave way. “In November, you’re winding down,” she said. “It means incorporating less sharp edges, more smoke.”

Which is maybe to say more mystery, more potential. The sharp edges of fact give way to the blur of the question mark, the uncertainty, the quiet. “The space of nothingness is where one finds his or her own self and life’s richness,” writes the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. “This is a wonderful time of my life,” Francesca said.