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Written in the stars

Sometimes I wonder at the nature of astrology. What’s derided as a pseudoscience seems to have little bearing on how we actually live out our lives. At the same time, the possibility that universal and heavenly forces may indeed effect people in various ways depending on their distance and exposure to them shouldn’t seem that far out of left field. 

Is there any serious study into this? Probably not. Doubtful it’s even possible. At the same time, the world could do with a fair bit more mystery, in my humble opinion.

To the vagabonds

There’s a book I turn to time and again. Vagabonding, by Rolf Potts. I wish I would have heeded the call when I first came into possession of its advice. Alas, I was mostly sedentary for several years after.

There’s a beauty in exploration. And I greatly admire the modern-day adventurers, exploring and attempting to better the world through learning and understanding. 

And vagabonding is an amateur’s embracing of exploration. Getting out and seeing the world. 

The quote in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is this:“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life. … Walter Mitty: To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

The year without

What the past year and a half have made people realize is that, there are things you can live without. That looks different for everyone, but there are certainly nonessential choices that you opted to forego over this pandemical period.

And while some choices were opted out of, others we doubled down on.

We’re all learning new ways to handle the world. Adjusting. And if we can function in the absence of some thing, it likely wasn’t necessary to begin with.

The new everything

A phrase being bandied about (I like that word – bandied) is “the new normal”. Normalcy refers to the commonplace. The most familiar and typical – what’s expected. In that way, normality is a function of exposure. The more masks people see others wearing, the more normal that becomes. Distancing socially, while it’s likely to remain common for a while, it won’t be normal. Most people in this country crave physical contact, and the distance creates a longing that will find its way to being sated… eventually.

In all of it, though, it mostly refers to habits. Habits that have been created over the course of a very long pandemic. And even public health crises, if viewed through the scope of a long historical lens, recurs enough that each individual outbreak is enough to be normal. So maybe all this newness refers less to the crisis, any crisis, and more to our understanding of it and response to it.

A year of digital more

While we still grapple with all the realities of the pandemic, more and more issues arise. One issue is the increase in device usage for the bulk of the population. According to PC Magazine:

“People have also been depending on their devices more for personal use. In 2020, US online merchants saw more than $860 billion in sales, an increase of 44% year over year, according to estimates from Digital Commerce 360, a media and research firm. That figure is nearly triple the increase seen from 2018 to 2019. Specifically, online sales of sporting goods, puzzles, games, and craft supplies all rose sharply. And internet shopping during the pandemic hasn’t been just for entertainment. Online grocery revenue surged to more than 350% higher in late March 2020 compared to pre-pandemic levels and has since leveled out to be around 230% higher, according to the Digital Economy Index by Adobe Analytics.”

At the same time, light exposure from devices is messing with circadian rhythms, disrupting sleep, dopamine, and serotonin levels. Understanding that stepping out into the light of day everyday is an important human need, it’s enough to wonder what other complications may arise as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Your reluctance is showing

Sometimes it feels like a small failing. This pressing urge to create that, once left unanswered, the self-fulfilling prophecy of non-creation comes true.

And yes, I’ve been reluctant to resume my blogging habit. Honestly, any writing at all has been pushed to the side. I don’t really have an excuse, other than once the routine is broken, it’s inordinately difficult for me to jumpstart it again.

So, sitting down to write, I look at the pile of notes I’ve made in the past few months. A wealth of thoughts – things to consider, rabbit holes to explore. This is my point of exploration, and the resumption of the journey that I wish to take.

It’s difficult for me to accept that it’s been since April since I’ve posted anything. Last year was bereft of the external, this year seems to reverse towards the internal. And what I notice is that, there is something missing.

For someone who searches, which I believe myself to be, a balance must be struck between the external and the internal. Pushing one or the other to the side for so long will inevitably result in downfall or a breakdown, both of which I’ve been susceptible to in the past.

All that to say, here I am once again. I don’t know what this habit will look like. But I expect at least weekly musings on many topics, and hopefully a bit more stability in my life going forward.

Finding your element

Being in your element means that you are comfortable in the situation, capable, and performing at or near peak. It’s important to be I. Your element.

Finding your element is a bit more challenging. Sometimes it’s not the obvious choice. But sticking with it, not giving up, and creating it for yourself can be just as rewarding.

A good day

Many things can make a good day. For some it’s the grandiose, while others enjoy the simpler pleasures. According to Japanese poet and zen monk Santōka:

“Days I don’t enjoy; Any day I don’t walk. Any day I don’t drink sake. Any day I don’t compose haiku.”

And there you are – an easy path to a good day.

Are you open to feedback?

We sometimes find ourselves in completely insular situations. We maintain tunnel vision, ignoring that which is around us. When feedback comes, we can all but ignore it, or, worse yet, attempt to kill the messenger.

But being open to feedback is critical to both success and growth. It can be the razor line between success and failure.

Friday dispatch

The biggest thing: the vaccine. I received J&J’s vaccine this week. Admittedly, the day after was a hell of a hangover. But I’m glad to play my part.

What I’m reading: Beowulf, new translation by Maria Dahvana Headley. I first read a translation of Beowulf nearly twenty years ago. In reading this, the la gauge is updated and it feels way fresh. Also, she really did her research.

A quote to consider: “Who can own a tree? Who can own a rock? Only the Great Spirit.” – Ernest Gods to Camp.