short and quick

Just a note of re-entry to mark the end of my two-day retreat offline.

My kneejerk note would be something like, “It was tremendous.” And in moments, it was! In other moments it was boring. In fewer moments than I expected, it was anxious. In many fewer moments than I expected, it was insightful. Mostly, it just was.

When you go out to watch stars at night, you have to watch for at least half an hour before light leaves your eyes and they become accommodated to the dark and you can see the fainter stars. In a way, my experience was like this: it took almost a whole day before the cacophony left my mind and I could find any silence, at all. I spent the first day in complete silence, but my mind was full of sound — songs (mainly LP), something that almost sounded and felt like radio static, and the voices of people I know. For the first day, my mind was also full of my own narration, of my telling the story of what I was doing as if I were telling you, or writing it. My mind was full of my noticing things to photograph to share. It took a very long time for that to stop happening, and in fact it never really stopped all the way. Implied other, present and accounted for!

And I realized that I had approached my retreat with a specific expectation of enlightenment, that some huge insight was going to happen for me and from then on I would be ever-changed. How silly, and how glad I am to have had the inner space to spot that one lurking in the subterranean churn. Ironically, that was my big enlightenment insight. 🙂 I do this all the time. I initiate these projects with this expectation, and impose the specific insight on myself right from the outset. “I’m going to get it and then I’ll be chill / whatever.” I laughed out loud when I realized this.

Every time I undertake one of these projects, whether it has to do with retreating from noise or watching more closely or going deep in some way, my searching always circles around the same issues, and I gain and lose them, gain and lose them, gain and lose them. I’ve always felt ashamed when I’d lose them again, as if I were a small person, unable to hold big and deep things . . . but I realized that this is the human endeavor. If we just sought and then gained enlightenment (whatever that means, as a word and for us as individuals) in one grab, then the world would work very differently than it actually does. This is the human endeavor.

So on the second day, I didn’t search for anything at all. I didn’t wait for chill / whatever. I just was. I just read. I just drank coffee. I just looked at the trees. I walked a lot, regular four-mile walks over my two days offline. I drank a beer. I actually did finish The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and ended up appreciating it, a lot. I rambled along my creeks. I stopped taking photographs. My experiences were just and only for myself. And I finally stopped narrating myself, and was able to be still in the silence of Heaventree. This felt less like a marvelous transformation, less like an a-ha! insight, and more like just that moment, nothing more.

I’m very glad I did it, and I’m so surprised that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to stay offline. My sense had been that I go online to manage any and all discomfort, as a distraction, but maybe being online produces discomfort. Well, it does. Obviously. It doesn’t just do that, it also allows for connection and happiness, but it does also produce discomfort, especially in this nightmarish Republican world we are trapped in. I’m glad to learn that it wasn’t so hard, and I’m thinking about having regular periods of staying offline. I missed people, I missed knowing how my friends around the world are doing, seeing their pictures, but I didn’t miss the noise, at all. Since I did not feel anxious, I’m left wondering why I go online to manage discomfort. My discomfort was never uncomfortable.

A couple of great things happened while I was away: I learned that our couches will be delivered this Saturday, and I got my NYPL library card, and I don’t know which one I’m more excited about. So Saturday we’ll have furniture and I can arrange an actual living room, and we’ll start painting, and then next Tuesday the new refrigerator will be delivered. The immediate big stuff will all be in place then, and done. And I belong to the NYPL again. SO HAPPY.

DANG IT.

“It was through the discovery and exploration of the unconscious that Freud made his major discoveries, chief among them that from birth to death we are, every last one of us, divided against ourselves. We both want to grow up and don’t want to grow up; we hunger for sexual pleasure, we dread sexual pleasure; we hate our own aggressions–anger, cruelty, the need to humiliate–yet they derive from the grievances we are least willing to part with. Our very suffering is a source of both pain and reassurance. What Freud found most difficult to cure in his patients was the resistance to being cured.
Vivian Gornick, Fierce Attachments

So last night I was on my yoga mat. (Yay! I did it!) It had been a very busy day, including an unexpected trip to Kingston to get something fixed on my car — an hour and a half round trip to Kingston alone — and lots of up and down the stairs to the basement, so instead of taking a vinyasa class, I took a yin class. Lots of quiet, lots of long holds of poses, lots of deep focus. And right there I realized my problem. Dang it.

I don’t actually want to stop being chaotic in my head. I mean, I do of course, I do want that, but unlike the last time, this time I am solely motivated by getting this weight off me. That’s really what I’m doing all this for. The inner chaos is a torment, but this time it’s really just a weight loss strategy with some side benefits I happen also to like. No wonder! No wonder I’m fighting myself with all I have about being mindful. No wonder. I’m doing something I don’t want to do.

And yet I do want it. The essential Freudian dilemma. I am resisting the cure I am desiring.

Now what, Freud? [I insist on leaving out that ‘r’ every time I type his name, so “Feud,” which is surely some kind of Feudian slip, right? 🙂 )

But seriously. Now what? I do want that quiet. I want it. I want the peacefulness I had. I want that centered feeling. Perhaps I’m still too unsettled in my psyche by this relatively dramatic uprooting of myself from suburban Austin and lots of people to a rural place that’s quite gorgeous and also fraught with new challenges to learn about, and no people. Maybe my psyche hasn’t caught up with my body — it’s still en route, maybe somewhere in Virginia, if it took the first route I took in the big truck.

Maybe this is why it’s the change in my body that is satisfying me, and why the change in my mind isn’t happening yet. Does seeing this make it change? IF ONLY. HAHAHAHA. If we could think our way out of problems, change would be easy, as my husband says on his therapy website.

I remember when Jeff, my food coach, said something antithetical to the therapy-focused position I’d held for years: at some point you just have to get off the couch. My tendency here would be to analyze this, to mull it over, Why, Lori, why are you being so resistant? Is it an unwillingness to abandon the political fight? Is it…. BLERGH get off the couch. Shit or get off the pot, as my old grandmother inelegantly said. Do I want to let go of the chaos, really? Then let’s do it.

so amazed I want to fly

flowering teaA couple of days ago I wrote about this stunning insight I had that probably sounds dumb to anyone else, the way insights are. Yeah, I knew that all along about you, obvious. And? But an insight changes everything, so it’s not just the mustard seed of the thing itself, it’s the way the world changes as a result. That insight just keeps unfolding, like flowering tea. It does feel like a flower is blooming inside me and it just keeps blooming.

Over the years I’ve come to believe that we are born with a temperament, we’re born who we are. I used to think differently, that we’re born kind of a blob and we become who we are, but that’s just not right. And fundamentally, we are who we are throughout our lives. I look at sweet little Oliver, such a happy, even-keeled boy, curious and self-contained, busy and a little cautious and laughing so easily. He was born that way, it’s who he is. I imagine it’ll ebb and flow as life happens to him but it’s fundamentally who he is, and he’ll return to that even if he wobbles. This is supported by a body of research; people who are in devastating accidents and become paralyzed and people who win the lottery have an immediate response, becoming devastated or overjoyed, but with time they return to whatever level of happiness they had before. So temperamentally happy people will adjust to paralysis and find their way back to themselves, to their ordinary happiness. A curmudgeon will adjust to having money and after the initial thrill, will return to being a curmudgeon. We are who we are, and we are born with ourselves. That’s not to say, of course, that it’s a fated full-on deterministic thing, but it’s a temperament, and I do believe that. I don’t know why I knew and believed this about everyone else and just didn’t see it about myself. Maybe, like others who hear about my younger life, I was just blinded by the circumstances.

So more unfolding in two tectonic directions:

My mother, age 16, right before she ran away with my father and immediately got pregnant with me.
My mother, age 16, right before she ran away with my father and immediately got pregnant with me.
  • I never could really understand why my mother hated me as much as she did. I knew that I ruined her life, she said that over and over. And I can even get that; she ran away from home just before she turned 17 and married my dad, who was 18 and also running away from home, and she probably imagined she was now going to have the life she wanted…..and BAM. Pregnant. So that part I could get. I understood what she meant when she said I ruined her life. But she hated me, viciously and frighteningly. I always thought, but I was a sweet little kid…. and that left me so confused. But that’s exactly why! How obvious! She hated me and I had the nerve to be happy anyway. She would be so cruel and vicious it would take your breath away, and then a little later I’d be happy about some little something. No matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried, I could still be happy. I’d still dance around the coffee table. Each time I was happy, it must have made her just double down, it must have been so galling, so enraging. I totally get that! Not from my own experience, but as a dynamic. I think it’s very common — like someone we think is unworthy, maybe a bad writer, wins a prize for writing, and they’re a much worse writer than you! Much worse! So you hate their writing and them even more. The world is unfair, why do they get the rewards? I think it’s that dynamic.

So she hated me because no matter what she did, I could still be happy. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to understand that, and her. She is a psychopath, but that’s just a diagnosis. I always said she was a black box, completely impossible to understand, but it was just a small, mean thing all along. After 57 years, I finally understand her. Unlike with my dad’s suicide, I never thought it was my fault she hated me, because I didn’t choose to be born, but it was so bewildering, and finally I have an answer.

  • And the other thing — gosh, how could I not have seen this before? — relates to an explanation I always gave for my survival. “It was just a failure of imagination,” I’d always say with a wry smile. Why didn’t I become a prostitute as a way to get money? Why didn’t I turn to drugs or alcohol to escape? “Failure of imagination. All I could think of was to find some place to do my homework and sleep and then go to school the next day. Failure of imagination.” One thing I did, and I’d tell this story, was to go to the disco in our small town (this was the late 70s) when it was bitterly cold, or when I was filled with despair. I’d take my one dress and change in the bathroom, and then go out on the floor and dance and dance, spinning around until I got out of myself and into a kind of bliss. Hours would pass and I’d be warm, and I’d be out of my real life. But that wasn’t a failure of imagination, or a “gee I’m so clever” tactic, I was just being myself. That’s all. No more, no less, no failure, no admiration. I was just being myself, that’s all. I am so grateful that I was born like that.

You cannot imagine how earthshaking this is — and I’m not being dramatic, that’s not hyperbole. The ground has shaken and I see myself there, I understand myself then, my life then, my mother, my father, my family. Finally, I understand. Finally. I understand. I was there all along. Do you remember these little handheld games?

dexterity
these are called dexterity games, for some reason

You had to roll it, tilt it, try to get ALL the little BBs into the small holes. Aaah, you’d get 2 in, but when you’re trying to get the 3rd in the others roll out! So frustrating for a little kid! But this is how my early life is now. My mother is in her little hole. My father is in his. I am in mine. And the game is done — and I win. 🙂

things I know

I’ll tell you how magnificent it is to get older, not that 54 is old. It’s just older, that’s all. I am so lucky to be in excellent health, and I don’t take that for granted, even though I don’t take care of myself the way I intend to. When I get home from Indonesia, I hope to jigger my mornings to make space for a long daily walk, which will be a great change to my wholly sedentary life. Right now is just such a sparkling period of happiness and growth for me, I can hardly see, my sight is so dazzled. The light inside me is brilliant. I’d give back the troubles if I could, but since I can’t, I just cherish the things that have come in their wake. Here are some things I know.

my guitar and banjo, old old friends. not visible: my new friend, my dulcimer
my guitar and banjo, old old friends. not visible: my new friend, my dulcimer

At this point, I accept that I am never going to be an astronaut. Or a prima ballerina. Or a professional singer. Or a dinosaur-egg-discovering paleontologist. There were periods in my life where I felt so torn about all the various things I wanted to do, and to be (which never included astronaut or ballerina). Directions I thought I might go, interests I might pursue to excellence, things I wanted to achieve. I’ve never been ambitious, or driven by thoughts of power or big achievement; my desires were smaller, more local, but I was so torn and always trying to make things work around my 3-kid family. When I had looms and spinning wheels, oh there wasn’t time to play my guitar. Etc. I did some things: I went to college, I went to graduate school and earned my PhD; I raised my children the very best I could and loved them always, with all my heart. And I piddled — a bit of guitar or banjo, some knitting, some writing, some baking, lots of pleasures but no mastery. What I know — for me, now — is that this is just fine. Marnie said a friend of hers gave a year to being an amateur, to trying this and that, to allowing herself to just be new at things, to try things. I will die in some distant decade a professional amateur, making music for myself and enjoying it (picking on my banjo, strumming on my guitar and dulcimer, and maybe even taking up a little ukulele, and singing); making things for people I love and enjoying it; learning new things and enjoying that; writing every day for my own growth and happiness. And that’s pretty fine. It’s about being vs achieving. And if someone gets an idea from my experience that it’s just fine to pursue interests and talents for their own pleasure, that’s good too.

my friend Cyndi had never eaten Ethiopian food, so I was lucky to get to introduce her
my friend Cyndi had never eaten Ethiopian food, so I was lucky to get to introduce her

Other people are as necessary as air. My shy introversion is wound deep into my history, my story of myself, and many of my experiences in the world. I’ve so often wished to get food poisoning just before a social event so I wouldn’t have to go, only to thoroughly enjoy myself when I go. I’m always working and make a lot of social plans — these days, instead of wishing for food poisoning I fret, thinking I can’t spare the time because I’m pushing to finish a work project. That is a shift, right there, but it’s gotten even shiftier. Last night I met Cyndi at an Ethiopian restaurant, and on the way I was really anxious about missing those two hours because I’m up against a hard deadline of my trip to Indonesia, and have a LOT of work to finish. On the way, I realized just how much I love seeing my friends, and how important they are to my life and my well-being, even if they’re casual friends. I don’t reach out to them to schedule things, because I always think I’m too busy, but that’s nuts. Having some very close friends, a bunch of casual friends, my gang, and old friends scattered around the country and the world is amazing and invaluable. All those years I felt so afraid, I missed out on so many good things. It’s never too late.

happy me, in Marfa, 3/2013
happy me, in Marfa, 3/2013

It’s never ever too late to look at the data and see a new story. For most of my life, my story of myself has been dominated by tales of trauma and devastation, shocking and horrific. The first ~18 years of my life were truly, truly, truly nightmarish, filled with relentless terrors. And I am 54, so there have been twice as many years away from those experiences. Literally. Of course it’s not a simple issue of numbers — 36 years of not-that surely trump 18 years of that — because there are deep and sometimes deadly consequences of things that happen to you when you’re a kid. I know that. And yet I’ve been so troubled by the fact that even though those experiences are long gone, I was still living them. Enough already, I’d think over and over. So that’s a version of my life I could tell (and have told, relentlessly). But there’s another story in there, so intimately connected you can’t pry them apart. It’s both sides of the same hand. The other story: WOW, what a story of survival and triumph. What a story of bravery and creativity. What a story of courage. Little-me was amazing. My spirit and mind and creativity, what a thing. It’s not a twisting-the-facts story, it’s not a making-lemonade-out-of-lemons story, it’s the fullness of the true story. You can look at any story from your life and see another story in there too. Like my very favorite Mister Rogers story that is now popular, about seeing the helpers when you witness a disaster. The disaster is real. And so are the helpers.

Why can’t you see who you are? That’s partly rhetorical, because I may understand the reasons we can’t more than anyone else. We can’t because we were always told lies about who we were, as my mother calling me fat cow. We can’t because we’re too self-critical. Because we see those clumpy thighs and others don’t see them, if we can help it. Because we know all the bits hidden in the dark corners that we don’t show others, the ways we can be small and petty. And sometimes we may even have moments of insight — well other people have dark corners too! And other people are unhappy with their thighs, or their teeth, or their posture, or their tummies, or whatever they see that no one else sees, because no one is perfect. And being so critical of yourself just feels so bad, and if it doesn’t motivate you to change something, maybe it’s time to back off. And if we were lied to, we can learn to talk back (“Am not a fat cow! Am not!”). But for me, a miracle of aging — combined with a run of hard times and the not-having-it feedback from a new friend — is a willingness to see who I am. I’m not all that, but I am, at the same time. You are too and if you can’t see who you are right now, I hope you can see pretty soon. Maybe you’ll be lucky like I was, and have a friend laugh and ask why you can’t see who you are, and then tell you what she sees. It doesn’t make the world perfect, it doesn’t melt away those little thigh clumps, it doesn’t solve any problems, but it does make it harder for you to belittle yourself and give yourself away to the lowest bidder. And that’s pretty fine stuff.

I strongly recommend getting older. Not only is it better than the alternative, it’s better than youth, any day of the week. Any day. I hope today is a beautiful day for you, and I hope you see who you are.

burst

burstThis is apparently how it works in nature. Dark cold winter nurtures the beginnings, and then suddenly everything bursts forth, pow! The fields are thick with spring flowers, vegetables start popping up, forsythia explode in brilliant color. In space, I gather matter compresses, pressure, darkness, then explosion into something else, something brilliant.

Human lives operate like that too, to varying degrees. This isn’t always true of course. Sometimes we go through periods of trouble — prolonged periods of trouble — and they whimper to a halt and “normal” life just kind of drifts back into view, and maybe small things are different, maybe we learn a little thing here or there, but mainly it’s just back to “normal.” That has definitely happened to me, and I’ve never paid attention but maybe that’s how it goes more often than not.

But you know, sometimes mysterious things were happening in the dark, seeds that had lain dormant for years, maybe your whole life, are germinating and you don’t know it. Maybe a puzzle you’ve been working on and you just can’t find that missing piece is laid out in the dark and something finds the piece for you, maybe your deep self, maybe something else, I don’t know how it works, I don’t have a theory. (But others do — it’s called post-traumatic growth, read about it here and here, for starters.) Maybe old ways of seeing things fall apart in the dark but it’s dark so you don’t see that they’ve crumbled, until the world turns and the light comes back. The world will turn, light will come back, and so you wait to see what the light will show. Ordinariness again? Or something else?

If you have ever experienced a deep insight, one of those ah! a-ha! moments, you know how miraculous they can be. Suddenly things make sense in a way that has eluded you, and what eludes you now is why they didn’t make sense before. I think there’s a way these things accumulate too, so as you grow and change, other growth and change happens more easily: this leads more quickly to that, you have a shorter way to go now. So the new insight that seems so stunning is possible only because of changes leading up to it, that’s why it suddenly makes sense. An insight I’ve recently had simply wouldn’t have been possible without all the life I’ve had right up to it. The ground was properly cultivated and nourished, the conditions were right, and there it was, brilliant and beautiful.

I’m writing this not simply to talk about my own insight (because it probably won’t make the same kind of sense to anyone as it does to me), but instead to talk about the process, the rhythm, the world of possibilities that exist after darkness. I certainly had a period of terrible darkness last fall and winter — not the worst that anyone has ever had, maybe not even the worst that I have ever had, but terribly dark anyway. During the darkness I cried, I hurt so much, I tried to feel it and let it be, I ached and wailed, I tried to be still to see what might come out of it, and I tried to grapple with it in my way, which involved writing. I didn’t know that something good would come out of it; there were moments when I hoped something good might emerge, but there were probably many more moments when my despair was so deep I couldn’t imagine that.

daffies

But I feel like a giant field of daffodils, beautiful and light and impossibly wonderful. My recent insight that makes me the most grateful involves knowing myself and jealousy. I’ve always been such a terribly jealous person, but it wasn’t really about jealousy — it was more about my own deep certainty that I was bad, trouble, ugly, and that all my partner needed was to remember or see that and I’d be abandoned. Because duh. Who wouldn’t be better than me! Anyone, old partners, people passing by, anyone. I was talking to my beautiful and un-neurotic friend Janet the other day (and boy howdy, do I recommend that you have at least one friend who is not neurotic!) about her sometime-boyfriend Robert, and she said he’s insanely jealous. So I told her that I am too, and what it’s about, that it’s about my own terrible feeling of inadequacy. And she stared at me for a minute and then busted out laughing. She asked me why couldn’t I see who I really am? Why can’t I see everything I am? She said she hasn’t even known me that long and she can see it, it’s obvious to her. She talked about her own very unjealous feelings and said jealousy doesn’t keep her with someone (of course it doesn’t), that nothing will keep someone with you unless they want to be with you, and if they don’t, grasping and jealousy sure aren’t going to do that. I did always at least know that, and I knew that actually, it’s likely to drive someone away, eventually (which only adds to the misery of it). Janet just seems to know who she is and she’s confident in a very neat way – not grandiose, she just knows herself and likes herself, can say that she’s hot-tempered, all kinds of things, but all with a kind of acceptance, it’s who she is and she’s fine. Something about her straightforward questions of me, something about the way it seemed so ludicrous to her that I don’t see it, and something about the last few months and what I’ve been through, it kind of whacked me in the head in just the best way. I’m pretty marvelous, and all I can be is me.

So if you are in the dark right now, I hope this makes sense to you and helps you wait and watch. If you know someone who is in the dark right now, I hope it helps you help your friend in some small way. And if you’ve come out of the dark, I say hallelujah for you. And me.

we’re like slinkies

When I was in graduate school, a friend who was in the clinical program once described therapy as being like a slinky on its side: we go around and even though we end up where we were, we’re a little farther along. Oops, here I am at the bottom again, but at least I’ve advanced a little bit. I thought that was better than the other metaphor I’ve heard for therapy, which is that it’s like an onion, you just keep peeling and peeling away the layers. As a metaphor, it does get points for referencing tears as part of the process, at least.

Last night when I was having dinner and listening to the band, I had a sudden insight that I suspect I’ve had before. As before, it was brand new! A brand new insight! The second time! But — here comes the slinky — I’m a little farther along, so even if it’s not all that new, I am newer. So here goes, maybe this will mean something to you too.

I sat there in the enclosed patio, surrounded by a big happy crowd. I didn’t see anyone else who was there alone, but to be honest, I wasn’t looking, either. I was watching the people all around me — a large group to my right, shouting things at each other in order to be heard; a slightly older couple, sitting across from me; a family with three bored teenagers to my left; a young mother dancing her toddler while her mother watched with a big smile; various couples. I noticed them, but they were definitely not noticing me……although I WAS noticing me. And here comes the insight:

My thoughts and worries about going alone, and sitting there alone, had absolutely nothing to do with other people looking at me and thinking something about me; I knew that already. But it was entirely about ME observing myself and thinking things about me!  And they weren’t sweet thoughts, either, more like, “oh, look at me sitting here all alone, at this age.” “Here I sit without someone to share this with, again.”  “ What’s wrong with me?” That insight hit me like a lightning bolt. And isn’t that a funny way not to be present? When it hit me, I laughed so hard, and then just settled into myself and watched outwards. I watched the band, I watched the other people. I listened to the music, I felt it, I danced in my seat, I was present.

And then I had a second insight, which was that I was in that space with a bunch of individuals. Each one was there, bringing whatever it was he or she brought — worries, fears, happiness, anxiety, a fight that was still brewing or hurting, a bit of joy, some hope, all kinds of things. It was a space filled with individuals, and we were all there together, listening to music and watching each other. It wasn’t me, alone, and a bunch of couples and families. I mean, it was, but it also wasn’t.

I could actually talk about a social psych idea here — self-monitoring, and boy am I a high self-monitor — but that’s just the cerebral stuff. The experience of it, the recognition of what I was doing, that was potent. This relates to my desire to occupy my life, which pretty squarely involves sitting still on the inside and looking out my own eyes. 

Listening to that music was so much fun, while I ate a big steaming bowl of Asian vegetables and stir-fried tofu over jasmine rice. I’m so glad I went. This morning I’m off to a small writing group at a nearby coffeeshop, pushing myself out the door once again. Happy Sunday, y’all. Occupy your own selves!

my mission

I know what my mission is, here on this little blog. I mean, I have a lot of missions, some for me and some for whoever reads my words in the dark. The mission that relates to you is an echo of Anne Lamott’s writing, which seems to seek her own honest and authentic self in order that readers don’t feel so alone — that we see another person who is as goofed up, as lost in the dark at times, as lazy and ugly in small ways as we are, so we know we’re not the only one. So I try very hard to be as honest about the shady corners as I can so you can see that you’re really not in it by yourself.

It’s been so long since I was able to read — since my beautiful vacation in Myanmar, actually. On the long flight from Austin to BWI, I started reading this book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and I came across a passage that so beautifully captured my own writing mission for myself, so I put it here for my own record, and for you:

What other reason might I have for writing this—ridiculous journal of an aging concierge—if the writing did not have something of the art of scything about it? The lines gradually become their own demiurges and, like some witless yet miraculous participant, I witness the birth on paper of sentences that have eluded my will and appear in spite of me on the sheet, teaching me something that I neither knew nor thought I might want to know. This painless birth, like an unsolicited proof, gives me untold pleasure, and with neither toil nor certainty but the joy of frank astonishment I follow the pen that is guiding and supporting me.

In this way, in the full proof and texture of my self, I accede to a self-forgetfulness that borders on ecstasy, to savor the blissful calm of my watching consciousness.

I cannot recommend writing strongly enough, for everyone (though most people who would read my blog are probably already fond of writing, themselves). If I had a nickel for every time I wrote a sentence and astonished myself — not at any brilliance in the sentence, but rather at the truth of it, at the articulation of something I didn’t realize I knew —  I’d have a lush bank account. It’s the physical putting-into-words of it, the mild struggle to figure out how to say something. If you just think it, you allow yourself to gloss over the struggle and think, yeah, I know what I mean. But you don’t. It’s the act of finding the right words…..and the thrill of finding them!…..that makes you know what you know. I learned this in graduate school, that I didn’t know what I knew until I tried to write the paper. But it’s much more deeply true for personal writing. 

It’s quite a good book so far, and I look forward to finishing it and telling you about it! It has a lot to say about living in the world vs living in your head, and the brilliance and power of grammar (no, really!), and seeing the beautiful in the every day, and finding meaning. I’m a third of the way through it so it may tilt and shift, but so far, two thumbs up.