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Tiny Revolutions №61: Joy is Coming
lean into the mystery ✨
Hi, I’m Sara, and this is Tiny Revolutions, a weekly-ish dispatch of personal writing and links about becoming who you are. Reply anytime, I love to hear from you.
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
“You talk about, also, symptoms of this stress on our nervous system that I think I recognize in myself, and we all recognize, as being more impulsive, moody, rigid in our thinking, irritable, lashing out, our frustration tolerance — and you could almost see that play itself out in our political life. And so, collectively, we were faced with this impossible choice — that the very thing that makes us human, which is our physical connection to other people, was the cost of keeping each other safe.
And all of that is terrible. Somewhere along the way, part of the dynamic was, you’re either on the side of the science, [laughs] or you’re interested in killing people. And so somehow — I guess what I’m saying is, this is an impossible — it’s a tragedy. But I feel like it stopped us from actually being really honest about the terrible effects of the social isolation.”
I found it cathartic to listen to this episode of On Being with Krista Tippett, where she interviews psychologist Christine Runyon about the effects of the pandemic on our nervous systems. After the quoted excerpt above, they go on to discuss how the prolonged activation of the most primitive part of our brain is connected with a massive loss of empathy for each other and an eroding ability to share anyone else’s perspective or ideas. And other related phenomenons. It’s a heavy listen but it captures well a lot of the things simmering beneath the surface at this particular moment in time, when so many of us are still on edge. It’s been a long year.
When I asked for suggestions of what to write about a few issues back, someone asked me to write about my experiences dating during the pandemic, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Mostly because they haven’t been great! But here goes.
After many years of dating what felt like a never ending series of men, I decided to take a break from it in late 2019. I’d broken up with someone in the spring of that year and then immediately dove back into the dating pool with a kind of grim compulsion (the old gal not getting any younger, etc. etc.), which was about as fun as you’d expect. So I figured I’d give the whole thing a rest for a bit while I focused on getting my shit together in other areas. (Starting a business and quitting drinking, to be specific.) I did both of those things and then bam, the pandemic hit and it soon became clear that that my timing for taking that break was maybe not the greatest, to put it mildly.
I would say that I’m pretty terrible at dating, but that is what one would call a limiting belief, and I try to avoid those these days. But yeah, I’m pretty fucking terrible at dating. It activates the most insecure, hyper sensitive aspect of my personality, and all the irrational expectations I have of myself and other people. It doesn’t help that I’ve been dating in Los Angeles for the last 15+ years, which, while many excellent things, is not known for being a place where stable, securely attached people are abundant and available.
(This tik tok, btw, is probably the most accurate distillation of dating in LA I have ever seen, right down to getting the rescue dog at the end. I’m still looking for someone to start the podcast with!)
Anyway, I’ve been on exactly three dates during all of this, all through the Bumble app:
A video chat with a man that I recalled approximately halfway through I had been out with once before, sometime around 2014. Nice enough guy, but something was off. I wonder if he knew the whole time who I was and didn’t say anything. Or maybe, like me, he realized it during the chat too. I’ll never know because neither of us said anything about it, and then neither of us messaged each other afterward and eventually he unmatched me. Whoops.
A walk around the Silver Lake reservoir with a very sweet and incredibly nervous software developer with amazing taste in music (a quality I really appreciate in a partner). Great conversation with this guy leading up to the date, but zero chemistry on the actual date, which was probably not helped by the fact that I never actually saw his face. I was really excited about the date but could almost feel the Covid anxiety coming off him in waves, so I didn’t suggest we take our masks off for a second to see what was what, which is what I’d planned to do going in. Just a very deeply awkward scenario all around. We texted a few times afterward but it died out.
A dinner date (!) recently with a guy I reconnected with that I’d been out with a few years ago who'd been geographically undesirable (yes, that’s a thing here in LA) when we met initially. (I lived in Echo Park and he lived in Venice at the time, though he has since moved closer.) We had what I thought was a really nice night, I thanked him for it, he said he’d be in touch about hanging out again, and then I never heard from him.
Why I am telling you all this? Oh yeah, I guess because I want to say that it’s been REALLY FUCKING LONELY over here! Me and my dog and a bajillion hours of screen time. (And meditation, and hikes, and other good stuff too, but still.) Maybe you can relate.
I could be making more of an effort to date on the apps, but have I mentioned I absolutely hate dating apps? I’ve always been more of a slow burn type of person. I like to see how someone is in the world before I know how attracted I am to them.
This has not been a great year for seeing how someone is in the world.
But maybe the year ahead will be? Here’s hoping.
Anyway, here’s some other stuff that I liked this week.
“Because that’s the thing about the universe: You have no idea when it will decide to throw you a fucking bone, be it figurative or literal. Trying to force it to bend to your will is only an exercise in frustration.”
I’ve really been enjoying Megan Koester’s newsletter. The line above was not written in regards to dating, but it’s kind of how I feel about it all. It’ll happen when it happens – or it won’t! I don’t know!
Familiar cycle here.
Edith Zimmerman’s latest comic about being addicted to your phone was deeply relatable.
Another excellent podcast rec this week from my ongoing media crush, the Desert Oracle:
What has most changed in the telling of history in the years since the industrial revolution? We have, out of embarrassment, stripped the supernatural from our lives. Removed the miracles, redacted the guardian angels, the singing mermaids, the hounds of the Baskervilles, the wailing banshees. The premonitions and visitations. The historical scientific and literary works of the 20th century are marked by a stubborn need to explain away the part of life that was most fulfilling for most of us in centuries past: the wonder. The delight. The awe. The fear of a mostly invisible world alongside our reliably physical reality.
We could all use more wonder, more awe, more delight these days, wouldn’t you say? I’m most happy lately when I lean into the mystery instead of dwelling on all the knowns. The unknown is so much less depressing.
A rallying call from the Twittersphere.
Now that we’re starting to hang out again, can we bring back the time when we would sing together at the end of meals?
Did you know today is World Poetry Day? Here’s a poem I love by Kim Addonizio.
That seems as fitting a note to end upon as any. Hang in there, y’all.
p.s. OH YES we will silently Zoom co-work again on Tuesday night! Join us by RSVPing here.
p.p.s. Thanks for being here. If you enjoyed this missive, I’d appreciate it if you shared it with a friend.