Here is my semi-regular roundup of things I’ve been reading on the web. May you find something here that resonates or inspires.
From Make a Living Writing, Carol Tice writes about “What I Learned About Writing From My Lunch With a Dead Woman.” While the title is a bit blunt, it fits with the no-nonsense lessons she learns from her dying friend Linda about taking care of your creative self, which include: Keep Creating; Be Perceptive; Be Forgiving; and Be Giving.
This post was especially resonant for me, as this past week three people in my wider circle died unexpectedly: one, a future colleague, only 32 years old, who died in her sleep; another, the husband of a former colleague, only 50 years old; and another, a student in our dept, a young man. At the same time, a gunman killed 5 people in a cafe in Seattle, in a neighborhood I frequented often. I spent the weekend with a somber heart. I burrowed into myself and yet yearned for connection at the same time.
Sometimes it takes shocks like these to remember what’s essential. Here from Writing our Way Home, Fiona Robyns speaks about the “crust” that we often develop to survive, and how essential (and painful) it can be to strip away that crust:
I sometimes see us human beings as being made up of many layers. These layers form like crusts as a result of experiences. We mould ourselves & adapt within our network our relationships. We protect ourselves. We make mostly subconscious decisions about ‘who we are’. Sometimes these crusts are as tough as a giant tortoise’s shell, and sometimes they are deep deep down near our very foundations. They are often almost invisible. They can be rolled up and squashed in as tightly as the petals in that peony.
When we get close to a new crust, and as it begins to unfurl, we get to the hurt. These crusts think they are protecting us. They won’t give up the ghost without a fight.
And finally, from Rick Hanson’s newsletter “Just One Thing,” he speaks about one sure way to connect with the world, even when we’re finding it difficult: discern what’s “likeable” in everything:
Right now, through the window in my home office, I see a golden squirrel scampering atop my fence. I like the little critter, the view of the hills beyond it, and having a life that includes squirrels. This simple moment of enjoyment is the subject of this week’s practice: see what’s likable.
Notice what happens when you apply it to everyday things around you, like cups, grass, streetlights, clouds, and sofas. Also feel what happens when you focus on likable aspects of other people, from casual acquaintances to loved ones. I think you’ll find that in your body this practice is immediately relaxing and restorative, in your mind it is soothing and happy-making, and in your relationships it brings ease and comfort and intimacy. Pretty good results for something that feels so good!
May you have a likeable week, dear readers, and remember to cherish all beings, large and small—allow them to be the material of a creative life.
With gratitude for you,