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Tiny Revolutions №19: More Like a Plant than a Jewel
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Hi, I’m Sara, and this is Tiny Revolutions, an occasional newsletter with personal writing and links about the practice required to stay mentally healthy. Reply anytime and let me know what you think!
When I was in college, I did a student exchange that took me from University of Georgia to Western Washington University, way on the opposite side of the country. It was very different there, which was exactly what I wanted.
At WWU I took an English class that was unusually chummy and ended up hanging out with a few of the other students. One of them was this girl named Sara, who I developed kind of a crush on. She was one of these beautiful people who are somehow adorable too—not intimidating, more approachable, like you could come along for the ride. She listened to upbeat electronic music and wore bright colors and ran long distance races for fun.
In short, she was the polar opposite to my black-wearing, beer-drinking, sad-guitar-music-listening self. I didn’t even know anyone like her in Georgia. The people there who were athletic or into sports were not generally to be found smoking cigs at the dive bars I frequented.
Looking back on it, Sara was maybe the first person I knew who made being healthy seem cool. She was happy, fit, and not subject to crippling self-doubt. I guess it’s possible that she was secretly a neurotic mess, but I doubt it.
I was not then a runner and in fact it intimidated the hell out of me—I didn’t have the right build, I would look ridiculous doing it, it would remind me of all the ways I was inadequate, etc. I hadn’t run since doing laps for high school soccer practice. What I know now that I didn’t know then was that I did not have a lot of tolerance for being really fucking bad at something. It was just easier to avoid it altogether.
I thought of Sara the other day when I was bumbling through an Instagram Live dance class. I am not a dancer in the same way that I was never a runner. It always just seemed like something for people who were thinner and more graceful than me.
Quarantine gave me a reason to try it though, and now I flail around my living room and look like a fucking idiot and you know what, I don’t care. It feels good. I suck at dancing but maybe one day I’ll suck less. Or maybe I won’t. Does it matter?
Here are some things I thought were worth sharing this week:
Is it just me or has everyone gotten super into birdwatching? (Not complaining!) Here’s a striking shot from a few years ago that I came across on Reddit.
A short listen about balancing all the online connection we’re doing with the physical connection we’re missing from Krista Tippet at OnBeing. (She recommends poetry.)
We’re all having insane coronavirus dreams. It’s not just you.
The streaming services are reporting that pop music is less popular during the pandemic — we’re digging deep into the catalog for the old comforting favorites. Here’s one of mine:
“For most of us, having our hopes and dreams continually crushed by reality is among the worst experiences we can endure.”
OK that line made me laugh out loud 😂, but I did find this overview of the four different types of depression (situational, biological, psychological, and existential) an interesting read. It’s helpful to see the common causes separated and defined—just another way to untangle the thread.
“The condition of being good is that it should always be possible for you to be morally destroyed by something you couldn’t prevent. To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.”
— Martha Nussbaum, The World of Ideas (ed. Moyers)
I pulled that quote from Tips for Trying Times, a project by the writer Jenny Offill with inspiration and resources for fighting climate change. (If you’re looking for a good novel, I highly recommend her Department of Speculation.)
Paris Photo, the largest international art fair dedicated to the photographic medium, has put the catalog from its canceled NY show online. Here are a few I thought were striking.
Thanks for reading, as ever. 😘
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