1. Morning walks. It was strange to walk again in the early morning after a three week break. It’s already getting light when I get up so to be at the river to catch the sunrise means leaving almost as soon as I get out of bed, which meant for my first week back by the time we got to the water the sun was already most of the way up. It also rained a few times this week, made a lot of our normal trails too muddy to walk. It was also so green and the river fast and full of snow melt.
We saw a new baby cow at The Farm which was scared but also very curious about Ringo. We walked through the corridor where the owls are nesting but didn’t hear or see anything and I’m not sure exactly where the nest is so didn’t really know where to look. Further down the trail we saw a wild turkey WAY up in a tree, all by itself.
When we crossed to the other side of the river, there was a heron fishing for breakfast. Ringo gets very mad when he smells or sees a heron, so we couldn’t get too close.
We smelled a fox (they can be so musky they almost smell like a skunk) but all three of the dens we passed were quiet and possibly empty. There was a “committee” of vultures (I looked it up, and if they are gathered somewhere just sitting around, that’s what they are called) sitting in a tree next to the trail.
2. Healing. I am so happy with my progress, with all the things I was able to do this week and how good I’m feeling.
3. Health Insurance. I had met my yearly deductible so my surgery and all related costs were covered, which is a really good thing. I was curious so I looked up the bill and just my two night private room stay was $55,000!!! That doesn’t include the surgery or anesthesia or pathology or prescriptions or all the preoperative tests and procedures necessary. This makes me feel so lucky but it’s bittersweet considering all the people who don’t have good or even any health insurance or access to that sort of care, who’d have to go broke to have the surgery or have to “beg” for help by setting up a GoFundMe campaign, or have to decide they can’t have it at all because they can’t take the time off work or don’t have anyone to help them as they recover.
4. The opportunity to opt out. I’m thinking today in particular of social media. Because I was recovering and had a lot of down time, I found myself slipping into a real funk because I was spending too much time scrolling. To have the whole world in your face all the time like that really isn’t healthy. For the weekend, I deleted my Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit apps off my phone (I never put Twitter back on after a longer break over the summer), and am only going to be on Facebook briefly to collect and share links for this post and my list tomorrow. Sometimes it starts to become too habitual and I need to take a break, and thankfully I can easily do that.
5. My tiny family, tiny home, tiny life. No place I’d rather be, no one I’d rather be with.
Bonus joy: texting with my Mom and Chris and Chloe’, all the Instagram reels Shellie sends, some of the flowers Mikalina sent me at the hospital still going, making art with Janice, clean sheets, a warm shower, pay day, spinach and artichoke dip, the hydromassage chair, the pool, sitting in the sauna with Eric, naps, good books, good TV and movies, listening to podcasts, a new notebook which means picking out a sticker for the front cover, stickers, good neighbors, muffins, green grapes, how soft the new grass is (Ringo says it tastes really good too), other people’s dogs, down pillows and blankets, a good pair of scissors, spatulas, green tea, peanut butter, reading in bed at night while Ringo and Eric sleep.
1. When We Remember To Be Alive. “In praise of the late award-winning composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto” from Frederick Joseph. Because this: “We have been conditioned to believe that speed is synonymous with progress, that a life lived in haste is a life well-lived. But as we take in the world around us, as we cast our gaze upon the brilliant mess that is our human existence, we must pause and consider the wisdom of our now ancestor, Mr. Sakamoto, who understood the virtue of stillness and the importance of deliberate contemplation. For it is only in the calm of such moments that we may truly appreciate the poetry that lies hidden within the seemingly mundane.”
2. Wisdom from Lucian James’s latest Kō Strategies Newsletter(a reminder which felt perfectly timed): “Do you know the concept of ‘killing the Buddha’? It’s a recommendation with which Linji Yixuan, a 9th century Zen monk, used to shock his disciples, ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him’, he would say. What does that mean? It means that we shouldn’t blindly follow any set of ideas or ideologies – including those of Buddha, but follow our own ideas, and stay flexible. We need to avoid the trap of falling into fixed, old ways of seeing, and outdated ways of thinking. Ultimately, killing the Buddha means that your best teacher will always be yourself – not any kind of guru, in any kind of guise. When you kill the Buddha, you see from your own perspective, you’re undivided against yourself, and you see more clearly.”
4. Wisdom from the latest Wellread newsletter: “The many accelerating crises we are facing are coming at us fast and furiously. And while they can feel ‘too big to fail’, they also affirm our interdependence. Thriving in the face of this will demand a commitment and capacity that none of us can muster on our own. We will need the depth of our courage and the width of our connections if we stand a chance against extreme inequality, mutating pandemics, climate calamity and mass migration. We must reach outside ourselves, across divides, beyond borders and towards one another – not just to ensure our collective survival, but to realize our full potential. Here’s how you can play your part:
Locate yourself. We are all a part of this mess we are impacted and implicated in different and disproportionate ways. Locating yourself allows you to show up with skill and find your right role and responsibility in whole of who we are.
Pull the thread. From your location, how can you disrupt and dismantle the spaces and systems you are a part of? Personally, ho can you pull the threads of your conditioning so as to make more space for freedom and possibility?
Weave a new world. Even while systems collapse, new worlds emerge. What is the world you are dreaming into being? How can you help bring it into being?”
7. They Don’t Give a F*ckfrom Robert Jones, Jr. Because this: “I’m exhausted from repeating myself about the rank evil and hypocrisy of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, and its collaborators and supporters from every demographic.
One of the things I’m tired of repeating is how much they don’t care. They don’t care that they are evil. They don’t care that they are hypocrites. They don’t care about justice. They don’t care about fairness. They don’t care about democracy. They don’t care about the Constitution. They don’t care about civility. They don’t care about our outrage. They don’t care if we march. They don’t care if we protest. They don’t care if ‘we go high’ (they prefer it, actually; we go high, giving them all the room they need to keep going lower and lower, while we go so high that we eventually run out of air). They don’t care about morality. They don’t care about religion. They don’t care about children—not theirs and most certainly not ours.
THEY. DON’T. GIVE. A. FUCK.
All they care about—all they really care about—is money and power. PERIOD. And they will do anything—ANYTHING—to hoard both. Even if—especially if—they have to step over our bones to do it.
The only question left to answer is: Knowing this, what is our counter-strategy? Because it can’t be repeating what’s already failed.”
13. The Broadest Portal to Joy. “All sorrow is, on some elemental level beneath cause and circumstance, an act of forgetting our connection to life, to one another, to the grand interbelonging of existence. All joy is the act of remembering — the hand outstretched for reconnection, for felicitous contact between othernesses. This awareness emanates from poet and gardener Ross Gay’s essay collection Inciting Joy — a tendril unfurled from his infinitely life-affirming Book of Delights.”
14. What Really Makes Us Happyon Lion’s Roar. “As a Buddhist teacher, psychiatrist, and leading researcher, Dr. Robert Waldinger studies life from three very different perspectives. But he says they all come to the same basic conclusion about what really makes our lives happy and meaningful, and what doesn’t.”
19. The Path of Joy and Liberationon Lion’s Roar. “The Buddha’s four noble truths include the truth that the eightfold path is a way out of suffering. It’s not just the path to happiness, says Sister True Dedication. It’s happiness itself.”
26. Sorry for getting old. “In the protracted superficiality that passes for existence in US-style capitalist society, skin wrinkles and other perceived female defects are cast as failures of the individual. And according to capitalist logic, such failures can only be rectified by buying beauty products, paying for cosmetic adjustments, or otherwise contributing to a landscape fundamentally dedicated to corporate profit rather than human wellness.”
29. Japan’s ‘evaporated’ people: Inside an industry that helps people disappear. (video) “In Japan, as some 80,000 people go missing every year, according to data from the National Police Agency. Some are later found, but others vanish completely, becoming what’s described as an “evaporated person” or johatsu-sha. The phenomenon is common enough to have an entire industry built around it of specialists who can help you disappear in the night. In this SCMP Film, we go inside a neighbourhood that’s a powerful draw for those who want to stay hidden and meet a yonige-ya, or night mover, who braves stalkers, gangsters and knife-wielding exes to spirit his customers away to safety.”
31. Commonplace Podcast Episode 109: Joy Harjo. “Rachel speaks with Joy Harjo, internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation about jazz, grief, second sight, teaching, and so much more. Joy Harjo served three terms as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2019-2022 and is the author of ten books of poetry.”
36. Taken Flight, “the collected works of the late poet, Bennett Nieberg. The collection explores topics of transgender identity, socio and gender politics, coming-of-age, familial trauma, and mental illness. As Andrea Gibson writes in the foreword, ‘… a gorgeous and devastating prayer for their own survival, as well as a prayer for our world.’ Andrea also shared this piece from the book that is so beautiful, brutal in light of their passing: “I have heard stories/of grudges let go on deathbeds/a final grip loosening/all i know is i want to be buried/with my arms already open.”