The Latest Thing I’ve Read

Over spring break I read an entire book in one week. Not impressive, but for me it was. I used the occasion of a 4-hour plane trip to start this book and finished it on the way home. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport prompted a strong reaction from me – the book resonated with many issues I’ve been grappling with the past couple of years: wasting time in my life with nothing to show for it, intentions never confronted nor acted upon, lack of purpose. Anxiety, mild depression, self-absorption – issues I believe I am not alone in experiencing. Rather than use Facebook for meaningless random thoughts lacking formulation into ideas that could be acted upon, it felt like time to acknowledge that I was wasting my time.

Newport does not flat out advise you to give up social media, he asks you to assess its value in your life and what your purpose is.

<Avenue Q>

Routine: Or, the Absence Thereof

If you are reading this at home, put down anything you are holding. Right now. Find a small object the size of a standard index card – your cell phone, a slip of paper, a receipt. Anything about 3″x5″. Got it? Good, now, go outside immediately. Stand in the street, hold that object up so it blocks out your view of your house, your apartment building, whatever that thing called home is.  Yogis talk about drishti, that way of looking where you aren’t looking at any specific thing, but the whole of it. But what do we do when a thing exists in time and space, but is then rubbed out? Gone. Like it no longer exists, maybe never did. What does that mean about your daily life, and all those precious trivial moments that made up your days?

When our house, and the homes of thousands of others, burned down in the Tubbs Fire of October 2017, the most shocking thing for me was not the loss of treasured items like my grandmother’s Della Robia three-dimensional hooked rug, my daughter’s old prom dresses we were saving for grandchildren to play dress up in, or the blocks my father made for my children and for our nieces and nephews. The gut punch was the erasure of any proof that my personal history and that of my family existed, and the drumbeat of denial beating like popping blood vessels in my brain. Routine. How many of us periodically malign our lives, characterizing them as predictable or lacking in excitement? This blog post will explore the emotional implications of the seemingly banal topic of routine.

<Next, close your eyes, feel the clothes you are wearing, the shoes you may be wearing, if you put any on before going outside. Maybe you are standing next to your car, or on the sidewalk. > …

photo from street

items with random thoughts attached – like Sebald’s novel The Emigrants …