December 13, 2019

Resuming therapy and in a season of self-curiosity, I’ve been drawn to essays about healing, gratitude, and recovery. I hope you enjoy this week’s selection!

  1. “Yelp Reviews of Fast Food,” Electric Literature. The McDonalds one is my favorite of these cute, slightly animated comics by Mary Shyne.
  2. To the Teeth #4, Entropy. “While I healed, I remembered that habits—this includes the mind—take at least three weeks to stick, and teenagers need five positive interactions for every other one. So I pretended I was my own teenager. I held her tight, kept her in the light, and I told her she could do this, which often sounded more like trust yourself. Trust what you’re doing. If you almost lost it, it means you didn’t. If you write it down, it means it is in the past. It means you can stand in the burning house and not be the burning house. I wanted to write this column because Mariame Kaba says that if we can pass down trauma, we can pass down healing.”
  3. The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love: Rilke on Freedom, Togetherness, and the Secret to a Good Marriage, Brain Pickings. “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!” I have to work to understand the passages shared in this Brain Pickings, but I found it rewarding to dig through. Here’s another: “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
  4. Little Weirds, Jenny Slate. I actually read this a few weeks ago and just haven’t had the time to share it. But images from it keep bubbling back up in my day to day, so I know it touched me. It’s a book of strange essays and what I’ll call “extended tweets” about identity, whimsy, and recovery. I copied many passages from this book into my journal, and here’s a sample: “I am the croissant that felt its own heat and curves and wished to become a woman, and I am that woman from the wish. Let me be your morning treat with your coffee. Disregard the fear that I am too rich to be an ordinary meal. Allow my antique decadence into your morning into your mouth. Pair me with jam. Treasure me for my layers and layers of fragility and richness. Name me after a shape that the moon makes. Have me in a hotel while you are on vacation. Look at me and say, “Oh, I really shouldn’t,” just because you want to have me so very much.” That’s the whimsy. Here’s a sample from the recovery: “It occurs to me as I fight so hard with myself that these cruel and persistent voices are the echoes of trauma from the times when people treated me like I am now treating myself. And that, perhaps, it is possible to close an inner door and shut out voices that are not mine. In the last light of a long day, I sit on a chair on my porch and watch the sky drain colors down and out and I realize I want to hear my voice and only mine. Not the voice of my voice within a cacophony of old pains. Just mine, now.”
  5. Column of Light, Gay Mag. “I wonder if gratitude would be a more compelling emotion if we allowed ourselves to feel it to its fullest — in our wrists, in our fingertips. If we learned to recognize its presence, greeting it as it arrives. Sometimes I’m walking down the street in Brooklyn and I’m overcome by a feeling of thankfulness — of being alive, of being alive in this very moment — so strong I have to put both hands over my chest. Gratitude wrings out my body like a towel. It breaks open my heart like a piece of balsa wood clenched in two fists. And I let it. I allow it to feel like a bolt of lightning, or better yet: that there has appeared a column of light, and I can step inside.” Lovely.

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