Finally taking a week off, for the first time since the pandemic started. Ugh, so long overdue. Looking forward to some rest!
A few weeks ago I stumbled across the Slowly social network. It is about connecting with people from around the world in a deeper way by sending long letters that are delivered with a delay. The farther away you are from someone geographically, the longer it takes for letters to arrive, ranging from a couple hours to a few days.
Like all social networks, Slowly’s design influences the way people interact with one another a great deal (For example it has things like the familiar character counter from Twitter, but it’s a minimum character count in Slowly).
For me, it has worked out great because I am absolutely the kind of person who likes longer, more thoughtful conversations that play out gradually over time. It takes a bit of getting used to the forced delay aspect of things, and also the idea that for the most part you’re matching up with complete strangers who are using the app anonymously. But over time it starts to feel natural, and is a very welcome counterweight to the noisy and often shallow world of Twitter, Instagram, etc.
For a few weeks, I had a pretty solid daily writing habit going here. Then, things got busy for me and I dropped it.
But it doesn’t take much effort to just pick things up again, so I think I will.
I’m not entirely sure what I want to be writing about these days, but I can discover that along the way.
The last few weeks have involved a whole lot of tedious (but ultimately worthwhile) chores, as I’ve been reorganizing my entire house and throwing out as much stuff as I can. It also has featured many sunburn-inducing bike rides, which I have come to love and look forward to on the days I’m here on my own.
The kids come and go like the tide. Adapting to that shift in energy every few days has been wild, but I am learning how to roll with it.
In theory, in a few days, I’ll be having my first in person visit with friends since the start of the pandemic. After so many months of phone calls and video chats and text messages, it feels weird to break the bubble.
In practice, whether or not that ends up happening depends on how much shit I can manage to shove into a dumpster this weekend.
So we shall see.
The boatman waits patiently where the sand meets the sea. A wicker hat is all that stands between him and the blinding light of the sun, but that’s all he needs.
Half asleep, the boatman rocks and sways along in his little rowboat. The boat’s unmoored, but it never strays far from shore without the stroke of an oar.
He passes the time by humming low and slow, some forgotten folk songs from long ago. He hums to keep out unwanted memories, as well as to ward off the distractions of daydreams. He is here now, in the here and now, and that is enough.
Some days, he sits on the shore alone, all day, seeing nothing but the occasional hermit crab and the more-than-occasional gull.
He was sure today was going to be another one of those days. Didn’t know why, it just felt that way. But then again, to him, being sure about things that would never come to pass was as familiar as an old hat.
A good bit of time washes away the heat of the day, as plenty of sand falls through the hourglass. But then just as the blues melt away and dusk sets the sky ablaze, the boatman spots an old woman, scrambling down the dunes and waving a crimson scarf in the wind to catch his eye.
“Going west, my dear?“, he shouts just loud enough for her to hear.
She whirls and twirls and nods back from a distance, moving in a way that both defies her age and reveals her timeless spirit in a single gesture.
“Better hurry up then! Sun’s setting! We’ll need to get out beyond the bluffs while there’s still an ounce of daylight to burn.”
The old woman scrambles some more. Within moments, she reaches the shore. The boatman takes her by the hand and welcomes her aboard. Then he unceremoniously tosses her an oar.
“In this boat, we all row. No matter how young or old. Hope you don’t mind, Ms.”
She nods again without hesitation, and together they carve a path against the waves.
TO BE CONTINUED.
On this day, I’m reminded that one of the most important responsibilities I have in life is to be a better dad to my kids than my dad was to me.
(So far, so good! But there’s always room for improvement.)
There is Grand Scale Personal Love that comes from intense 1:1 relationships, whether it’s between close friends, family members, or romantic partners.
But there is also the Small Scale Universal Love that comes from washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, stopping for two minutes to say hello to the neighbor, wiping the nasty eye gunk out of your old-ass dog’s eye, or taking ten seconds to write a thank you note to someone who helped you in some tiny way,
Both kinds of love matter, but the latter is always accessible and always simple (if not always easy) to act upon. It doesn’t require moving mountains or boiling the seas. It just requires a bit of caring attention, right now, in this very moment.
Sometimes it is as simple as showing up, especially when you don’t feel like it.