This autobiographical narrative offers a brief account of my journey and adventures in condensed matter physics (a.k.a. solid state physics) and some of the personal events that shaped my life and my career: my early years in Europe, my family's escape from the Nazis, growing up in Cuba, the difficult road into a field that was essentially closed to women, a personal disaster that knocked the wind out of my sails for more than a decade, and my return to a successful career in physics. In closing, I argue that, although we have made remarkable progress, we know but a thimble-full in our inexhaustible search for an understanding of the laws of nature.

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    Animations of a schematic () and a computer simulation () of a magnetic deflagration initiated at the top end of a sample and propagating downward as a spin-reversal front at subsonic speed with a consequent release of Zeeman energy. Computer simulation courtesy of Kevin Mertes.

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