Found these written down in a random document on my computer from last summer!

Excerpts from My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor

July 8, 2015

I was fifteen years old when I understood how it is that things break down: people can’t imagine someone else’s point of view.

They were like two trees with buried roots so tangled that they inevitably leaned on each other, and also strangled each other a bit.

If you grow up on salsa and merengue, then polkas and jitterbugs look as if they jumped off the pages of the National Geographic.

As I lay in bed at night, the sky outside my window reflecting the city’s dim glow, I thought about Abuelita’s fierce loyalty to blood. But what really binds people as family? The way they shore themselves up with stories; the way siblings can feud bitterly but still come through for each other; how an untimely death, a child gone before a parent, shakes the very foundations; how the weaker ones, the ones with invisible wounds, are sheltered; how a constant din is medicine against loneliness; and how celebrating the same occasions year after year steels us to the changes they herald.

I remember wondering what made her so intriguing. How could one become an interesting person? It wasn’t just having a boyfriend you could describe as a hero, thought that certainly got my attention. It had more to do with her questioning the meaning of her existence, thinking in terms of a purpose in life. She was a teacher but still educating herself, learning about the world and actively engaged in it.

The parish in Yonkers was 100 percent Irish, he rationalized, and the priest had no choice but to affirm his community’s values. I disagreed. Bigotry is not a value.

“Half a debate is listening to what the other person says,” Ken advised. It was easy to present your own points, much harder to listen well enough to respond effectively to your opponent.

When I was little, listening and watching for cues had seemed like the key to survival in a precarious world. I notice when people hesitate or get defensive, when they care more about what they’re saying than they’ll admit, or when they’re too quick about brushing something off. So much is communicated in tone of voice, in subtleties of expression, and in body language.

A line of reasoning could persuade, but so could a sequence of feelings. Constructing a chain of logic was one thing; building a chain of emotions required a different understanding.


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