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A lot can change in a week. Your living space. Wardrobe. Daily routine. Sense of beauty. Sense of self. So this crazy fire happened that ruined a lot, but it preserved even more.
We do not need a ton to live on. You can still love people, eat nutritiously, move your body, work creatively, and challenge your intellect when you have no idea what is going to happen next.
Thankfulness opens the door to a lot.
(This photo is what a kind person rescued from my apartment after being told everything was gone. It was the best drywall covered surprise ever.)
Pulled out a suitcase and was surprised by last year’s summer things. Which felt kind of like time travel. There were a lot of weird scarves and airy dresses. Add in stone fruit, bike rides, and ice cream, and you’ve defined my favorite seasonal pieces.
As I was trying to figure out what to toss, keep, and tie in my hair, I realized I’m not the same person as this time last year. And chances are neither are you. Which is a strange and wonderful feeling. We change from great experiences and awful stretches.
I mean, don’t we gracefully notice when someone’s been through the grinder? It removes a great deal of their shallowness. And you can tell they are listening to you when you speak.
It reminds me that we are protected in spite of our personal fires, so we can remain what we are created to be.
The suitcase is now empty and there is much to give away. Estrangement from the exact people we were at summer’s start last year has never been more liberating.
They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in anything. Mechanics. Systems management. Baking bread. Whatever your work is, chances are you weren’t an immediate expert. Good maybe, but not expert. Kind of hopeful.
Was reading an article aimed at researchers in a rut called ‘The Valley of Shit’. You’ve either been there or are there. It’s a place where you want to give up, and for a fat minute (or week or month) you lose perspective with your work. If you have people in your life who tell you the truth, and you still find yourself with negating thoughts…
“You are probably not the right person to judge the value of your project or your competence right now.” -Dr. Inger Mewburn
Picture Jack Black as Mr. Schneebly telling you this. It will make you laugh. You will feel a little less serious. And then somehow you willingly return to what you started.
The point? Do not stop walking. Do not feel lonely. Do not expect yourself to be an expert at hour 4,548 when your wise mind knows it takes 10,000. And the good news is the valley ends.
In the meanwhile, enjoy H+H Down in the Valley and start your practice. It feels very right to do something that is ancient and good. This is you cultivating something out of nothing. This is your work.
This sentence found me today in a letter. It was from someone who is leaving. “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Quite timely. I think we are all leaving something.
So I tried something new on the date of birth…moving miles for years. Because I am pretty thankful to be alive. And thankful for beauty and rest and something better to believe than commercials. Thankful to be loved without doing…anything. So I swam a little, biked a little, ran a little. And now I’m planning to take it easy and celebrate a little.
I’m glad I don’t have to perfect myself. I have nothing important to say, just kind of sunburnt and full of endorphins. Which is not a bad place to be.
And this is the pictorial confirmation: 26 birthday miles by land ( 16 B, 10 R). Plus 1.2 miles by sea…pool. This watch is retro and doesn’t work in the water, but that part happened. Promise.
Today has been quick and curious and playful and strong. And brilliantly sunny. This might be my last birthday in St. Louis, might not be, but whatever it is, faith leads us on.
Was reading an article on advice to young photographers. I have no idea what I’m doing with a camera, let’s be honest. But since photos, good or bad, always seem to give something to write about, I think photography and writing are pretty inseparable.
Wear good shoes.
Fall in love.
I like this idea very much. It frees you to walk anywhere, explore your limits. (After a little thought, these are decidedly my 3 most over-worn shoes.)
And what about love? It keeps you sensitive, aware, ready to interact and grab hold of the present. It makes us notice ourselves less and others more. It’s the center of our functional capacity…it’s easy to invest in what we love, right? It’s the why behind our actions.
I want to fall a little more in love with my neighborhood. And my work. My family. My community. And even when we think we repeatedly fail at it, love is at the very heart of us. It sometimes just requires a little walking.
“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud, it is not rude, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the the truth. It always trusts, always protects, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor 13
Was talking with a friend yesterday and learned that I don’t blog enough for her to actually read my writing. And I thought, okay, awesome. Telling it like it is. Can’t really beat that. I think it’s pretty healthy to have people in our lives with less of a filter than our own. And that’s one of the many reasons I like her. But it also made me realize some barriers keeping me from writing more, too. Like saying there’s a lot on my mind, a lot to get done, and kind of getting lost in it. But quite often, writing feels like the “anti-lost”. So I think the conversation was meant to happen.
It’s afternoon reading and nap time on this glorious frigid Saturday, and the covers are no stranger. Caught something beautiful from Anais Nin: “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another.” Sobering. We run after goals and sink into training plans, but can neglect some pretty substantial stuff. Like overlooking barriers to doing what we love. Growth is slow, painful, clarifying. Which makes me think there are some things we cannot learn alone.
This week is kind of…free. I’ll call that a foreign form of bliss. Between now and the New Year, I want to soak in the gift of simplicity. Run from the Christmas excess. Return to the things and places that make us feel at rest.
I took a piece of wood from this beach on a road trip, and it’s now on a shelf in my kitchen. It made the car smell like beach-stank for a good hundred miles, but every time I look at, it reminds me of good company and good music. Simplicity always wins.
So on this simple afternoon, I found a few lines from Walt Whitman that make me thankful for…well, language.
“Wash the gum from your eyes and dress yourselves with the dazzle of the light.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
to jump off into the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout!
and laughingly dash with your hair”
Reminds me why we’re so drawn to writing, reading. It takes us to a place we haven’t been for awhile and fills our thoughts with noble words.
And sometimes they are words we really need to hear.
More of that this year for all of us, friends.
Coquille Point. Oregon.
I used to have a yoga teacher named Ahna. She once told me that we hold our confidence in our arms.
For the most part, I agree with her. Just think about the movements our arms create.
Painting a wall. Pulling someone in close for a hug. Stirring a pot of risotto.
Picking up a child or a dog or whatever you find especially enjoyable.
Pulling yourself through the pool. Throwing a bike on top of your car.
All of these take confidence, some of them take strength, a few of them take both.
So I’m cleaning up the apartment mess of the weekend, and this song plays. And I love it. And I think about…arms.
And how the world is a better place when we’re humbly confident with them.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1-2