What we need most at the end of the day…

In a recent Times article, the reporter Emma Goldberg wrote about how the rise of social media and influencer power has made it such that young people, in particular, find their livelihood, success and sense of self inextricably entwined with an online presentation. She wrote, “With personal branding, the line between who people are and what they do disappears. Everything is content.” A strange, exhausting new twist in being human is that each day, each of us must decide how much of ourselves, our family life, thoughts, work, photos and feelings we will share with strangers online. Goldberg quoted Tom Peters, a marketing writer, who explained that, we are each “head marketer for the brand called You.”

To reduce ourselves to brands, however, is to do violence to our personhood. We turn ourselves into products, content to be evaluated instead of people to be truly known and loved. We convert the stuff of our lives into currency.

This new way of interacting with the world is driving institutional dysfunction, personal anxiety and the hollowing out of ourselves…Klein confessed that social media had made him hungry for validation. It offers us, he said, a steady drumbeat of “You exist. You are seen.” This longing to be seen and validated is universal, but this desire has been co-opted by technologists to capture more and more of our time and attention…

I have gotten letters from time to time from readers declaring me their pastor, and of course, I’m flattered and grateful. I hope to be of help to them, yet I cannot be their pastor. I cannot hold their hands and pray over them in the hospital. I cannot grieve with them after the loss of a loved one or rejoice when they land a job. A pastor and the work of local churches more broadly are tethered to a place, an institution and a particular people, with all the complexity, hilarity, struggle and mystery of their lives.

What we need most at the end of the day has nothing to do with influence or brands. We need quiet beauty and enduring truth that we share with those who walk this journey with us…

—  Tish Harrison Warren, from “The Temptations of the ‘Personal Brand’” (New York Times, January 29, 2023). Tish Harrison Warren (@Tish_H_Warren) is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and the author of “Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep.”

1000 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a Row.


Today makes it 1000 consecutive (almost) days in a row for my daybreak walk at Cove Island Park in Stamford, CT. No sun today, so Susan had to make her own. Photo credit: Susan.

T.G.I.F: Wally’s Great Adventures (38)

hello friends, wally here. dad says he’s agnostic but today has him spinning and wondering, must be sunday, date of Sabbath, could there really be a God, whatever all this means. what i do know is that, he seemed less angry at / irritated with me which is like huge progress. he said that one day in a row isn’t a miracle but as it pertains to me it’s damn climbing Everest, whatever that means. i’ve not eaten shat or scat, one day in a row. i’ve not shat or peed on the bed or in the house or under the kitchen table, one day in a row. i didn’t yank and yank and yank on my wee wee today, one day in a row.  I didn’t walk around on three feet, with one paw in the air looking up at the sky, like an idiot, one day in a row.  and, mom took me for a walk, i didn’t shake like a little kitten, again as dad emphasizes for God’s Sake. and i walked a full mile without my mommy holding me in her arms like a little girly puppy. dad watched the video with me walking, ‘hauling ass’ he described it, ‘champion little beast’ he called me, ‘show quality’ he whispered… and quickly added, for one day in a row. i could swear i saw a tear on dad’s cheek, i did see a tear, could he be proud of me? I barked at him, and asked him if he was crying and was that a tear? He walked away mumbling and told me to mind my own business. that’s it for today everyone, signing off, Wally, the Champion Little Beast! 

T.G.I.F: Wally’s Great Adventures (37)

hello friends, wally here. dad said one more day like today and i’m going back to where i came from, and mom is going with me.  it all started when I was sitting on the ottoman rubbing my wee-wee. dad asked mom what the hell was i doing. mom said she thinks i found willy world. dad said that’s not funny, and it just can’t be — he said that he had no words for what he was watching, yet he couldn’t stop watching. so I kept doing it because it felt good. dad said that we can add another huge black mark on the ever growing list of wally defects, and why mom got me in a Blue Light Special. dad went on to ask mom if she could imagine wally at the Westminster Dog Show pleasuring himself in the center of the ring. dad yelled at mom and said he would not humiliate himself with this creature that had no scruples. mom then said not to worry, she’s got this all on video. dad walked out and said he couldn’t bear it anymore, that with mom’s training i’m regressing at such a rate that he couldn’t even imagine what will happen tomorrow. burn the video he said, burn it. have a great week. signing out, willy, i mean wally. 

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Here is an amazement –– once I was twenty years old and in
every motion of my body there was a delicious ease,
and in every motion of the green earth there was
a hint of paradise,
and now I am sixty years old, and it is the same.

—  Mary Oliver, from “Am I Not Among The Early Risers” in West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems (Mariner Books, April 7, 1998)


Notes:

  • Image Credit. Andreas Kuehn.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Wally’s Great Adventures (36).

hello friends, wally here. major major trauma around here.  dad asked mom what is going on with my ears, and why are they bending backwards, and that this is more evidence that i am not show quality, and why we got me on sale like stale bread. i didn’t understand all that, and he went on ranting about finding one defect a week. mom googled bendy ears and she found that it was normal esp around teething time. mom is so smart, as i have lost so many teeth this week. dad said this was total nonsense and asked mom if she believed everything she read on the internet and asked mom if her ears were bendy when she was losing her teeth when she was a baby. mom walked away and mumbled something about not engaging with the ignorant. dad told me that is what happens when i hang around mom so much and get babied, everything is bending backwards. Dad said i better start moving my ears back where they belong or he will tape them back with hockey tape to get them right. so i have a lot of work to do, will keep you posted.. have a great week. Wally. 

Scents I am able to recall…

i can bring back certain scents from memory

maybe you can too

yesterday in a hospital room i was explaining to mom that because of his septoplasty surgery three weeks earlier he has lost his sense of smell

but I was sitting eating a banana and he was able to smell it
same thing when I walked in with a cup of coffee

i could not say that some people have the ability to summon a scent from memory
because this has not been proven yet

List of scents I can summon on demand:

  1. The scent the stem of a rose bleeds right when it’s cut.
  2. The body odor of grandmothers.
  3. The honey-sweet scent of breast milk on a baby’s warm cheeks.
  4. A banana.
  5. Coffee.
  6. Mastic.
  7. Amaretto.
  8. Leather.
  9. Tobacco, pipe Tobacco.

every scent i am able to recall is associated with a pleasant memory
i an not able to recall a scent associated with a bad memory

~ last tambourine, take it all in while you can


Notes:

  1. last tambourine = Someone we know.
  2. Photo: Marta Dzedyshko (via Pixels)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The point was that we both understood how easy it is to let your life pass along, totally in book, unless you take a risk, disrupt the expected patterns, and try to make something human happen.

—  CJ Hauser, The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays (Doubleday, July 12, 2022)


Notes:

  • Highly recommended. And if you can, listen on Audible.
  • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: TIME, THE GUARDIAN, GARDEN & GUN
  • Guardian Book Review July 19, 2022: The Crane Wife by CJ Hauser review – frank and funny essays on doomed romances.

Wally’s Great Adventures (35).

Wally’s Great Adventures (35). hello friends, wally here. very quiet around here. eric is traveling. dana went home. hi dana! rachel and andrew went home. and my big bro & bff sully went home. mom and dad try to play with me, and they are nice and all but nothing like sully. i miss him. we wrestle, and he lets me win. he let’s me chew on his chewy bone. i lick all the slobber from his face, and lick his wee wee and dad yells at me and asks wth is wrong with me. Then after, i give sully so many kisses and we take long naps together. i’m not sure when he’s coming back, but i hope its soon. have a great week. Wally.

Wally’s Great Adventures (34).

hello friends, wally here. big day today. dad weighed me today and said i weighed 14 lbs, up more than 2x since he adopted me on halloween. dad was so proud, and said i was going to be his little beast. mom smirked, and said a scat eating beast, whatever that means. [Read more…]

Wally’s Great Adventures (33).

Wally’s Great Adventures (33). hello friends, wally here. i was outside scouting for vermin & came across a big pile of black jelly beans that someone dropped. they didn’t taste like jelly beans or black beans or any kind of beans that i know of. i thought maybe if i ate a bunch of them they would taste better. dad was staring at his gadget at the other end of the yard, and i was gobbling them up as fast as i could. They didn’t taste anything as good as the few pieces of banana that dad snuck to me earlier in the morning. then i saw dad rushing towards me. ‘WALLY! YOU ARE NOT EATING SCAT. SHIT. CRAP. DAMN YOU WALLY. I CAN’T LEAVE YOU ALONE FOR 30 SECONDS.’ dad was upset & stuck his giant finger down my throat, i gagged a little and coughed up a few beans. ‘WALLY, YOU CAN’T BE EATING THIS SHIT.” dad is so smart, they didn’t really taste that good, they tasted awful actually, i threw up a little in my mouth. mom got home, i’m so glad that dad didn’t tell her, i think dad was afraid that he would get yelled at. i love mom but dad is my bff. we have each others back when we get in trouble. after lunch mom took me to go poop and mom said i had diarrhea poop, dad calls it shitting like a goose. mom asked dad if he had any idea why i was shitting like a goose. dad said thats because i want to be a bird hunting dog. mom did.not.think.it.was.funny.at.all. dad then said it could have been from the few pieces of banana wally had. ‘Wally had banana all by hisself, she asked?’ well, no. mom was angry. when she gets like this, dad for reasons of insanity piles on, he told her that i ate a pile of SCAT.SHIT.CRAP. wow, mom came unhinged. i never saw mom that mad. she stormed into the garage, grabbed a giant shovel, & went to bury the SCAT.SHIT.CRAP. dad & i went upstairs to hide while the storm blew over. i sat on the bed. “WALLY! WTH IS THAT? IS THAT HOW A SHOW DOG SITS? PLEASE TELL ME THAT ISNT A CURTSY. DID MOM TEACH YOU THAT?’ dad’s been working so hard with his training and it just isnt taking. i’ll try harder tomorrow. have a great day everyone! Wally.

Wally’s Great Adventures (32).

Wally’s Great Adventures (32). hello friends, wally here. i was sitting minding my own business and heavy-footed dad stomps round the corner in the kitchen asking me what i was doing. i told him that i was waiting for something to fall off the cutting board. he said, not that dummy. he asked why i was sitting all splayed out like that. splayed out like what i said. like that he said pointing at my legs. i told him that all frenchies sit like this. he told me he didn’t care what all frenchies did, he cared what i did, and that i looked like an idiot. i barked at him and told him that wasn’t very nice. then he did told me some stoopid story about jimmy frenchie jumping off a bridge and asked me would i do that. of course I wouldn’t, i didn’t get it. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book “The Sabbath”… has this line — “Six days a week we seek to dominate the world. On the seventh day, we try to dominate the self.” It’s amazing how much harder that is to do. But I can’t shake the question of, what if I did actually spend a full seventh of my life, which is what the Sabbath is supposed to be, living at a different speed? Who would I be if I knew more than how to work and not work? Who would I be if I knew actually how to rest?

— Ezra Klein, “Ezra Klein Interviews Judith Shulevitz.” The New York Times, January 3, 2023.

Wally’s Great Adventures (31).

Wally’s Great Adventures (31). hello friends, wally here. so rachel told me to be careful with dad’s coaching, because when she was a little tyker like me, dad told her she could be whatever she put her mind to be. so she put her mind to being an olympic platform diver, she did a back dive from the edge of the pool, and crashed into the concrete with her back. dad said “BAD EXAMPLE,” as any idiot should know that you need to jump out far enough to clear the edge. anyway, dad was on me about lifting my paw again. i barked at him and told him that I wanted to be a bird hunting dog. After he stopped laughing and calling me names like ‘short’ ‘chubby’ ‘squatty,’ he said i could never get my ‘low rider’ carriage moving fast enough to flush birds. i barked at him, told him that wasn’t nice, said he was wrong and i could grow up to be anything i put my mind to be. and I told him that I would not retrieve his stoopid balls. he then chased me around the back yard telling me to stop looking in the sky with my paw in the air because those were airplanes and not birds, whatever that meant, but i’m going to show him, i’m going to best bird dog ever. that’s all for today. have a great weekend everyone! Wally!

  

 

 

Wally’s Great Adventures (30).

Wally’s Great Adventures (30). hello friends, wally here. i was out in backyard sniffing around checking things out, never more than a few feet from dad, his hulking presence lurking. this “do it Wally do it Wally do it Wally do it Wally”, i mean really. who needs the pressure to go poo poo and who can do it like on demand. i mean this get-it-done-now attitude may work at work-work but here, wow. mom asked me what those red spots were on my belly, i barked and told her its from all this pressure dad is putting on me. mom always asks why i look so serious, and i barked and told her, wouldn’t you be serious with dad’s ‘7×24 coaching’, she laughed, ‘i’ve had 39 years of ‘that.’ i love mom, but she must be really tough. then get this, while we were outside, dad asked me why i kept lifting my paws, one and then the other. i barked and said why? why? I barked again, why would I lift my paws from the frosty, freezing-cold grass while he stands there in his wool socks, his giant lined snow boots and a down jacket???? then dad gets on his box, Eric and Rachel have a name for this box like soapy-box or idiot-box, something like that and he starts telling me that when he was my age, he used to walk in 3 feet of snow with sneakers, no gloves, for 3 miles to school all by himself in the arctic tundra in canada and he wouldn’t be lifting his paws and complaining like a little baby, and i needed to man-up and stop listening to mom because i’ll get soft. i don’t want to get soft, and i don’t want anymore of these red splotches so i’m going to have to listen to dad as he knows best. that’s all for today. have a great week! wally!

Wally’s Great Adventures (29).

hello friends, wally here. i was helping dad with his work yesterday. he said that it’s a stretch to call it ‘helping’ and that i was a ‘piss-poor’ banker, and i should add that to the list of things i can’t do, incl. can’t fetch shit. i barked at dad and said that wasn’t very nice, and i didn’t want to do stupid fetch or to be a stupid banker staring at a screen all day and not be able to play outside in sunshine, so it didn’t matter if i was bad at those things. dad said i needed a job to make money and buy my own place some day. I told him FALSE!, as i want to be just like eric when i grow up, live at home with mom and dad, get all the great benefits and have to do nothing, what a deal. dad didn’t seem to know how to respond to that. 

i asked dad if we could take a selfie together and share it with all my friends today, and asked him why he didn’t take selfies  — dad said no selfies! and that was that. and since dad and i were chillin’ on the couch this morning i decided i was going to be the best puppy ever. [Read more…]

Wally’s Great Adventures (28).

hello friends, wally here. tgif. so much to share. its been so nice outside, dad has taken my bff sully and me outside to play ball. now i’m still a puppy and all and haven’t seen the world, but Sully and Ball, that is something everybody has to see once. when sully sees ball, he is mental. dad calls him manic or demented or crazed or frenzied, or a lune. for sully it is all about ball. i don’t really get it. I chase sully and ball one or twice and then quit. that’s crazy. dad tries to encourage me to fetch, but that’s crap, why would i do that. so i lay in the grass, and roll around on my back. dad asked ‘what the hell i was doing?’ he then poked me with the ball-chuck-it-stick. I roll on my back again. he pokes me harder so i growl at him and tell him if he doesn’t stop, i will eat his stick. meanwhile sully is still chasing the ball and panting like a madman. I thought my bff was so smart, but i’m having some second thoughts about what’s really going on upstairs there. [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly.

“…that hopeless sense of loss which makes beauty what it is: a distant lone tree against golden heavens; ripples of light on the inner curve of a bridge; a thing quite impossible to capture.”

—  Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter in the Dark (Vintage; February 16, 2011, first published 1932)


Notes:

  • Photo: During yesterday’s Daybreak walk. 33° F. 7:11 to 7:33 am. January 2, 2023. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More photos here.
  • Quote via CODA
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Wally’s Great Adventures (27).

hello friends, wally here. i know, i know, its been a long time since last report. i guess i need to come clean. these Wally stories are ghost-written by dad, i know you must be shocked. its not as big of a deal as you think, as he mostly types what i say, dad does almost no editing & he LOVES to edit. anyhoo, dad totally shut down last week & said he wouldn’t help me if i continued to bully sully. BULLY, ME? he said that i steal his chewy bone & then his other bone when mom gives him a new one. i asked dad what he would do, eat a shitty old bone or go after a juicy new one? dad said that wasn’t the bloody point, that i steal all of sully’s shit, steal all of his new & old bones, steal his toys, steal his water bowl & food dish, run surprise kamikaze missions & pounce on sullys head gnawing on his jowls, AND I steal sully’s sleeping spot with mom, & this was way over the top. sully put up with all this crap except for the sleeping situation, dad thinks that’s why sully is pissing all over the bed. LIKE ITS MY FAULT HE’S PISSING ON MOM’S BED. anyhoo, i told dad i would try, but i’m not really going to try, i learned by watching dad, he doesn’t change no matter what, i mean no.matter.what. i am giving sully just a bit more space when sleeping with mom (and he’s since stopped doing bad things on the bed, see!), but i will offer nothing more. ZERO more. btw, those hairy legs in the 2nd photo are dads, sully and i were sleeping under the covers with dad, mom demanded this be disclosed, as her legs aren’t this hairy. third picture dad took at 3am, and do you see sully’s giant head on top of me, its any wonder i can breathe, so you see i give him things. anyway despite all this, i just love sully and he loves me because he doesn’t chomp on my little head when i harass him. i asked dad if we could adopt sully so he could be here always, and you should have seen dad light up, he’s up to something. so stay tuned for more on that. have a good day everyone. Wally.

Here I am again. I’m full of faults.

And I think that as I’ve aged, I realized everything is an ongoing process. And that it isn’t something that suddenly you’ve done this work and therefore you become enlightened, right? That you’re like, oh, you wake up one day and be like, oh, guess what, I don’t have an ego. I’m not bothered by anything. And instead, of course, it’s just the ongoing slog of being a human and returning to the practice. And OK, here we are again. That’s bothering me. Here I am again. I’m full of faults. […]

I usually sit for at least 15 minutes a day. Sometimes in the morning and sometimes at night. At night, it’s usually because I’ve forgotten to do it in the morning. Or I had something early, an early flight or something like that. But I try to start my day with it. I also try to do — set an intention every day that I just hold with me throughout the day. And sometimes it’s just like, oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out, and I’ll just say let’s just think about ease. And I’ll say, just keep saying the word ease and it comes up. And then my meditation practice — it differs. Sometimes it’s — I think the core is always love and kindness. That’s what I learned many, many years ago. And that’s my fallback.

Ada Limón, from “Ezra Klein Interviews Ada Limón” (Ezra Klein Show, May 24, 2022)

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