Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Odds and ends: old and new

1. Last fall I noticed that my ten-year anniversary as a blogger was coming up (it was in December). I was going to try and think of some cool thing to do with that, but then I forgot about it in the holiday rush and didn't remember until about a month ago.

Ten years. I was surprised, it doesn't seem like it's been that long--although when I go back and read some of those early posts, it seems like it's been centuries. Was I ever that naive? (For the record, I had two blogs before this one, which is why *cough* it's Aunt BeaN's Third Blog, right?) I've learned a few things about blogging over the years, and one of them is that when I start writing posts that sound like lectures, it means that I've learned something on an intellectual level but I'm avoiding learning it on a deeper level by thinking I should pass the information on to you. I think it comes with being a natural teacher (gifts again). As I'm learning something, I automatically start breaking it down for you guys: how would I teach this? But I haven't really learned it myself yet.

I've been learning things by the avalanche recently. Some of them I've passed on to you (see the Lent posts), but some of them I'm still ruminating on. I can't possibly tell you about radical self-acceptance until I get a little further along the path myself. It's a topic I first read about years ago when I ran across Tara Brach's book Radical Acceptance and more recently in Jim Palmer's stuff, but I'm not even close to really being there yet. Maybe I will feel more competent to pass along some thoughts soon, but in the meantime, check out Tara's blog or Jim's blog if it's a topic that interests you. Maybe you will be able to teach me.

2. Word geek moment: in the previous paragraph, is it "further" along the path or "farther" along the path? So I googled, and reinforced what I already knew--farther is for literal distances (six miles or six feet), further is for figurative distance. But the reason I was doubting is because "further along the path" is clearly figurative distance, but it doesn't sound right. Ah, the joys of being a word geek.

3. I somehow managed to completely wear myself out over the past couple of months. It snuck up on me. I've been in bed by 10:30 for two out of the past three nights with the light out by 11. You know what a night-owl I am, that is practically unheard of for me. Then this morning, I got up with MadMax at 7 so we could take his car in to be worked on. When I got back, I loaded up the dishwasher and started it, got a few other minor tasks done, and went back to bed. I slept for another hour and a half. Whaaat? Maybe I'm getting sick. At the moment, I'm thinking about going back and taking another nap. Why am I so exhausted?

4. Do you remember when I read and reviewed Gone Girl last year? For some reason I started reading reviews of it on Goodreads the other day, and was struck by how gleefully cruel they were. The ending of the book is sort of a slap in the face to anyone who would expect not even a happy ending, but any kind of resolution at all. That in itself is fine, although I didn't like it. Flynn made an artistic choice as to how she wanted to end her novel and it's entirely up to her. But what struck me was all these readers who were happily claiming that they loved the ending and it was just like real life, they knew it would end like that, etc etc. There are dozens of them. I get that you could appreciate the ending, or think it was appropriate to the amoral pose of the book, but love it? It would take a complete and utter cynic, someone who has completely given up on human kindness, to love that ending.

It depressed me. Are we so despairing these days? Have we completely lost hope that good ever wins, or even just that karma works? that someone who is awful will eventually be consumed by their awfulness? Are nice people, people who treat others with respect and courtesy and expect others to do the same, just patsies? I don't believe it, and furthermore, I don't think I'm dumb and naive to retain some faith in human kindness. So there.

5. I've been thinking about one of my favorite things I learned in grad school. In environmental theory, we learned that in Western culture, most of us see the natural world as a backdrop to human actions. Almost like a painted scene in a stage play. There's the background, and then there's the "important" human stuff that takes place in front of it. It's a fun thing to play around with, sort of like dissolving an invisible curtain between yourself and the natural world. Go for a walk or sit outside and see if you can bring the environment to life around you, so it's not just a backdrop but your habitat. There are small noises, bugs and birds and the way the grass is slowly turning green, and you can feel yourself as part of it, not separate. (Actually, if you're just about anywhere else but here, the grass has probably been green for some time now.)(Remember #1 above where I lecture you about things that I haven't fully learned myself? This would be one of them.)

6. Lent report. I gave up sweets for Lent this year, and overall it was easy. The only time I had trouble with it was when I was in a social situation where everyone else was having dessert. (and the last two days. I craved sweets those last two days.) But the good thing is that--unlike other situations-- if you say you gave up desserts for Lent, no one pushes you to have any, which was nice. Overall it went so well that I've decided I should try to limit my sweet intake all the time. I've never been one to sit down and eat an entire cake at one time, but if there are certain sweet things in the house, I'll have a couple of bites after lunch, and then a couple more bites an hour later, and then snitch a bit more while I'm fixing dinner, and so on until it's all gone. It adds up. So I'm experimenting with this. So far it's going well.

7. Time for a new look around here. I'll probably do it this weekend, just thought I should warn you. And also I need to go back and label a bunch of posts, so apologies in advance. I know for those of you who use an RSS feed, it makes them pop back up in your feed. I'll try to do it over the weekend when pageviews are down.

And that's all for me. Maybe I will go take another nap.

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