Sunday Best – April 14, 2024

 

Joy is the mostly invisible, the underground union between us…

      – Ross Gay, The Book of Delights

 

I’ve long been a fan of the idea that we can make our own small joys in life – noticing beautiful moments, finding a pocket of quiet in a noisy space, and occasionally choosing poetry over reality TV. Of course, on some days even small joys are scarce, and all of them stand in contrast and complement to our sorrows… so when we find them, woah, it’s pretty great.

The truth is that all of these joys, in ways big and small, depend on the kindness and efforts of others. This week I cheered the return of Boston’s swan boats in the early morning light, installed by unseen others. I delighted in the sound of a child’s laughter, a child I’ve never even met. I reveled in the crunch of a sugary churro, though I had nothing to do with its creation. I was buoyed by the glow of narcissus in the freezing rain, blooming without any encouragement or acknowledgement from me.

Dear ones, may we be grateful for the trails of joys that others leave for us to discover.

May we offer our own in return.

 

Sunday Best – April 7, 2024

 

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.      – Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

 

You have to love a researcher on thinking who makes a big point of noting that the answer to every question is not just, “think harder.” Sometimes, the answer is “chill out,” or “think of something else.” While focus is terrific, we are also all prone to the condition called focusing illusion, as Kahneman described above. 

Reading about the quirks and foibles of human thinking often leaves me feeling all muddled and mushy, hopeless and helpless. The brilliance of Kahneman’s work leaves me feeling clearer. Stronger. Luckier.

Thanks to Dr. Kahneman, when I think of my system1lizard brain, the one that is sometimes described as autopilot,  it’s not with disdain or dismissal, but with deep affection, even delight. Look at the lengths my mind will go to in order to keep me safe! Look at all I can accomplish without effortful consideration!

Friends, we might not all be Nobel-worthy researchers. But we all have the choice of how to present our ideas. When we learn something, will we insist on the view that is only cynical, critical? Will we find a way to present even the most amazing attributes as somehow lesser, meaner?

Or might we ask a more generous question?

Might we offer a more wholehearted answer, thoughtful and true?

Might we wonder, and study, and reflect,

and revel in what is revealed?

Sunday Best – March 31, 2024

 

Dear ones, in this season of rebirth and renewal and regenerative miracles, I share the wisest counsel I’ve recently received.

May we remember our dreams, and not discount them.

 

What might be possible?

What might we re-member?

What has always been true?

 

 

A joyful Easter to all who celebrate!

Sunday Best – March 24, 2024

Leave the raft upon the riverbank.

 

That’s the summation of an oft-cited Buddhist parable, where the story gently reminds us that just because something is useful in one setting, we need not carry it with us forevermore.

Steeped as I am in traditions of honor and loyalty and yes, a little bit of stubbornness, this idea has always been uncomfortable to me. What if I need the raft again? What if there is never another raft to be found? What if the original raft resents me for continuing on to dry land? What if I made the raft with my own two hands? What if the raft was a gift from a beloved teacher?

Friends, there are ideas and relationships and places and endeavors meant for a whole lifetime through, and beyond. And there are also gifts that are meant for a specific moment. It’s wasteful to cling to a summer tomato until the frost. It’s thoughtless to transplant a cactus to the rainforest.

Dear ones, may we appreciate the rafts that keep us afloat. 

And when we reach the shore, may we part with gratitude,

and gladness,

and grace.

 

 

Photo by WJH, March 2024.

Sunday Best – March 17, 2024

 

A few weeks ago, I attended an amazing concert. It was thought-provoking, beautiful, and thoroughly enjoyable, and stuck in my mind for days afterward. Walking home that night, I felt dazzled. Challenged.

This weekend, I saw a different show, also amazing. It was joyful, tender, and surprisingly participatory. People who never sing were singing. People who never dance were dancing. Walking home, I felt connected. Happy.

These performances were both generous and both genius, in very different ways. The first left me feeling like I might never see another performance like it. The second left me feeling like I would carry the music within me always.

The first was saying, here is my gift to you. The second was saying, we are the gift. 

Dear ones, may we appreciate the art that inspires.

May we treasure the art that elevates.

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