Archive

Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Smiles from: grocery shopping

For 90 minutes each weekend, I leave my phone at home and join my family for our weekly grocery shopping. It’s my very favorite time of the week.

For 90 minutes weekly, I notice the temperature, the direction of the breeze, the looks of joy and frustration on the faces of those who pass by. I see nuances of the world around me and its peoples, not some pale, paltry electronic version of these.

shaved iceLast weekend, my two little boys sat and shared what they call shaved ice. My husband and I waited for my family’s favorite farmers market vendor to return with our order.

“Excuse me,” an older woman standing nearby said. “I see you every week. Your boys? They’re so sweet! Every week, they make me smile.”

I touched my heart as I said, “Thank you.”

“I thought you should know,” she said, smiling as she turned and disappeared into the crowd.

Once or twice, I’ve seen people frown at my boys and their antics. The frowners are irritated that they must have their quiet, solemn post-joy lives temporarily shattered by the unpredictability of youthful lives still (and hopefully always) fully lived.

Far, far more often, by a factor of at least ten times, I’ve seen people smile, giggle, and even laugh outright. The week my seven-year-old repeatedly called my almost three-year-old “Mr. Scrotum” definitely helped with that!

(“No, no! If you feel you must call him that, save it for home!” I chided. “But better still, just don’t do it at all.”)

I know some people see grocery shopping as a chore. For me, it’s a joyful yet calming reminder I’m not apart from the physical world I live in, but very much a part of it.

I’ve smiled many times this last week, but nowhere else as wide as I did when I was told my children consistently make one woman smile. ‘Cause, see, we’re connected, and that doesn’t change just because we fail to see it.

(My husband chuckled about our typing our separate narratives on other sides of our rental home: “That’s how I met you! The other side of the clickety-clack.”)

weeklysmile.jpg

Please see other #WeeklySmile posts here

 

The world is not atomized

To be clear, I DID IT, TOO

Several years ago, I briefly joined a Facebook group for administrators of inspirational pages. I was deeply discomfited by the group, members of which spent much more time talking about how to get more page and post likes than how to inspire people. The proper formula at that time was just the right quote pasted on just the right pretty picture; many admins were perturbed when sharing algorithms changed so that Facebook began sharing fewer pictures.

Troubled, I wrote that I didn’t feel inspiration resided in the number of people able to see a post. Maybe one person who really needed to see a post would see it, and than an “unsuccessful” post would’ve made a world of difference to that one person. The good it worked on them would ripple outward in lovely ways, so that a post’s reach would go far beyond what some statistic on Facebook revealed.

Each post I read there left me more unnerved. I couldn’t articulate the feeling then, but it was a sensation like: We’re putting numbers over people. This technology is turning us into marketers and targets, not humans engaging with other humans.

I left the group. I eventually left Facebook, too, and found myself better able to see human beings in all their splendor after doing so.

I was on and off Twitter. I even ended up deleting my Instagram account last November, after realizing that, too, was somehow messing up how I perceived real people. In December, I wrote in “Sunlight & friends“:

Something delightful happened after I deleted my Instagram account last month: I stopped thinking of my friends as the two-dimensional representations they share there, and started remembering them as who my heart knows them to be.

I hadn’t even realized I’d been boiling them down to their most superficial selves until I was no longer doing it.

Reading a copy of Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business last week, I was floored to find old concerns addressed with such deference to history, present, and future. That’s to say, in 1985, a scholar I’d never heard of was publishing a book that’d help 2017 me begin to find words for things I felt silly for finding disturbing. Read more…

my wings have grown

thumbnail_2hofu12.jpgGathering pictures 
to present on my time in Japan,
I found a photo of myself
in front of the floating torii
of Miyajima

I was there. Of course
I remember my awe
standing before
that gate (between
the profane and
the sacred); still,
seeing myself
there inspired
a rush

That all really
happened! I didn’t
just dream it!
Read more…

Get Out

Categories: Movies, Reflections Tags: , , , ,

It’s not a priority.

About twenty years ago, I took Econ my first term at university. Since it was online, I could fit it in whenever I wanted from week to week.

I don’t remember much of what I studied in that University of Oregon basement Social Studies computer lab. My brain’s been filled with law, contracts, and IT knowledge that’s displaced much of what came before. And yet, reading a political text a couple of weeks ago, I rediscovered an economic concept that matters very much to my life right now: opportunity cost.

From Chalmers Johnson’s Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope

 

Before I read that, I’d understood I haven’t been using my time well recently. I just didn’t have a way to explain it clearly, not even to myself … until I saw the words “opportunity costs.”

When I spend hours on Twitter, when I have arguments not worth having, when I type long essays in states of dismay, I’ve wasted precious minutes much better spent elsewhere. In doing one thing impulsively (or compulsively), I’ve lost an opportunity to do something else that I genuinely wanted to do. Something that might power me through fights worth taking on.

I decided I need to be more conscientious about how I spend my time. I’m making better-for-me choices (virtually!) every day.

Today, home sick with an adverse reaction to something or other, I cheered at this post … and an exchange of comments below it. Athena’s words spoke to thoughts already on my mind, reminding me to actively choose my priorities.

Rather than regret opportunities squandered, I’m going to start saying, “It’s not a priority.” No one else gets to define mine or dictate them to me, though my husband, kids, and manager have some say!

Today, my priority is resting, followed by snuggling, reading, and reflecting. These things refuel me in ways that no amount of caffeine or sugar can.

I need the real stuff. The good fuel.

What about you? Are you getting enough good fuel?

Hydroplane

Downpours flooded SoCal streets yesterday, but all had mostly dried up by mid-morning today. This meant I was unconcerned when I set out for a meeting.

Trouble struck when I tried getting onto the freeway. Turning sharply onto the ramp that’d deposit me on the freeway 20 or so feet below, I found my car suddenly floating just above the road. My steering wheel did its own thing.

First, my car veered right toward foliage. I didn’t dare try countering the pull, because I felt like flipping was inevitable.

The car then veered left, taking me precariously close to the thin metal barrier that kept me from tumbling down onto the road below. I kept my hands poised above the steering wheel, ready to seize it when it seemed ready to respond to my touch (without flipping my car). 

I managed to miss the barrier by a few inches and steer myself safely down the ramp. My heart raced as I drove northward and contemplated the possibility of different outcomes.

The next 30 minutes, I found myself appreciating with new clarity how tenuous is the connection between tire and road. Every skid and shudder had me on alert.

Ultimately, I made it safely to my destination. My return trip was pleasant. Now, safe at home, I’ll be content to drive nowhere else this long weekend …

Categories: Los Angeles, Reflections Tags: ,

The memory of typhoons

In 2004, I experienced my first typhoon in a small coastal town on Japan’s main island, Honshu. I filmed myself standing in the middle of a street while everything shook and swayed around me.

All was silent and still in the eye of the storm. I couldn’t believe the winds would soon whip around me again, but they did. I howled with them when they returned. The windy days I’d loved at home were nothing compared to this.

I enjoyed my later typhoons, too, but none invigorated me the same way my my first one did.

Today, an ocean and a dozen years removed from my first typhoon, I look out my SoCal windows and see the trees thrashing in the wind. The wind rattles my home’s windows, slamming sheets of rain against them.

I don’t know what it is about the wind, but I have always loved it. I will always love it. This wind-advisory afternoon, I’ll snuggle up with my husband and my little boys, content in now … but also remembering the thrill of being one small body standing strong against ferocious winds.

%d bloggers like this: