Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

We’ve transformed the world from a place of scarcity to a place of overwhelming abundance: Drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting … the increased numbers, variety, and potency of highly rewarding stimuli today is staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. If you haven’t met your drug of choice yet, it’s coming soon to a website near you. Scientists rely on dopamine as a kind of universal currency for measuring the addictive potential of any experience. The more dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway, the more addictive the experience. In addition to the discovery of dopamine, one of the most remarkable neuroscientific findings in the past century is that the brain processes pleasure and pain in the same place. Further, pleasure and pain work like opposite sides of a balance. We’ve all experienced that moment of craving a second piece of chocolate, or wanting a good book, movie, or video game to last forever. That moment of wanting is the brain’s pleasure balance tipped to the side of pain.

Anna LembkeDopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence (Dutton, August 24, 2021)

Sunday Morning

A sacrament is something holy happens. It is transparent time, time you can see through to something deep inside time… In other words, at such milestone moments as seeing a baby baptized or being baptized yourself, confessing your sins, getting married, dying, you are apt to catch a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life.

Needless to say, church isn’t the only place where the holy happens. Sacramental moments can occur at any moment, at any place, and to anybody. Watching something get born. Making love. A walk on the beach. Somebody coming to see you when you’re sick. A meal with people you love. Looking into a stranger’s eyes and finding out they are not a stranger’s.

If we weren’t blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental.

—  Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking (HarperOne; September 24, 1993)


Notes:

Walking. Great Point & Hallowed Ground.

Friday, September 17th, the streak was broken.

I hadn’t known the numerical significance of it at the time — I was only regretting that the day would eventually come.  So, when I ran the math this morning, it was startling.

Start date May, 5, 2020. End date September 17, 2021. 500 days. 500 consecutive days of morning walks at Cove Island Park. Like in a Row. 

500 days of Anything is Something.

A joke, sad, and tiresome that it is, swirls around the house that I get anxiety attacks when I’m outside of a 50 mile radius of home. So, between the breaking of the 500 day chain, and the Road Trip outside of the comfort zone, we were swimming against unease.

Eric (Son) drove. Susan was the co-Pilot.  And I sat in the back, quiet, moping, thumbing through my iPad.

Fast forward. To our last morning in Nantucket. Steve & Andrew (Rachel’s future Father-in-Law and Fiancé) drove me out to Great Point in Nantucket. To get to Great Point, it was 15 minutes on the road followed by a 30 minute drive on the beach. [Read more…]

T.G.I.F.

No physical appearance is worth not eating pasta for.

—  Matt Haig, with “One Beautiful Thing” in “The Comfort Book” (Penguin Life, July 6, 2021)

 


Photo Credit

Miracle. All of It.

For the purposes of the book, Robin, who desperately believes in the sanctity of life beyond himself, begs his father for these nighttime, bedtime stories, and Theo gives him easy travel to other planets. Father and son going to a new planet based on the kinds of planets that Theo’s science is turning up and asking this question, what would life look like if it was able to get started here? And what would that change in our sense of who we are and where we’ve been dropped down?

And they make this journey across the universe through all kinds of incubators, all kinds of petri dishes for life and the possibilities of life. And rather than answer the question — so where is everybody? — it keeps deferring the question, it keeps making that question more subtle and stranger. And I wasn’t sure where I would go with this ultimately in the book. And one thing I kept thinking about that didn’t make it into the final book but exists as a kind of parallel story in my own head is the father and son on some very distant planet in some very distant star, many light years from here, playing that same game. And the father saying, OK, now imagine a world that’s just the right size, and it has plate tectonics, and it has water, and it has a nearby moon to stabilize its rotation, and it has incredible security and safety from asteroids because of other large planets in the solar system.

Imagine that everything happens just right so that every square inch of this place is colonized by new forms of experiments, new kinds of life. And the father trying to entertain his son with the story of this remarkable place in the sun just stopping him and saying, Dad, come on, that’s asking too much. Get real, that’s science fiction. That’s the vision that I had when I finished the book, an absolutely limitless sense of just how lucky we’ve had it here.

— Richard Powers, from Ezra Klein’s Podcast Interview titled “This Conversation With Richard Powers Is a Gift.” (September, 28, 2021, The New York Times)


Notes: (1) The podcast and/or transcript is long but worthy.  (2) Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (3) Photo Credit

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

There’s time for everything except the things worth doing. Think of something you really care about. Then add hour to hour and calculate the fraction of your life that you’ve actually spent in doing it. And then calculate the time you’ve spent on things like shaving, riding to and fro on buses, waiting in railway, junctions, swapping dirty stories, and reading the newspapers.

George Orwell, from “Coming Up For Air


Quote: Alive on All Channels. George Orwell portrait.

Bewilderment

Forget the critics.  Read this book.

Richard Powers, Bewilderment: A Novel (W. W. Norton & Company, September 21, 2021)


NY Times Book Review: “In ‘Bewilderment,’ Richard Powers Smothers Nature With Piety.

5:00 P.M. Bell! S-1 & S-2

S-1 (Sully) and S-2 (Shroooooommmmm aka Giant Puffball Mushroom @ 1 week’s growth). (DK Photo @ 2:30 p.m. today).  Initial post on our Giant Puffball here.

T.G.I.F.

Your mother’s favorite bird was the one in front of her.

—  Richard Powers, Bewilderment: A Novel (W. W. Norton & Company, September 21, 2021)


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:23 am, September 24, 2021. 58° F.  Heavy Rain.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT

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