It's time for a change.
Today marks the first issue of Weekly Findings, Year Two. Same Monday delivery, same curious content, different look. I hope you like it and find the change to be as refreshing as I do.
First, some housekeeping:
Instead of including a sidebar, this new template is a 'long-scroll,' so be sure to work your way all the way to the bottom if you're interested in fieldnotes, links, and various curios.
Additionally, you may notice things shifting around here a bit, week to week, as I figure out what I like and what feels best within this new format.
Now, onto my findings...
I haven't read as much in the past week as I would normally. Dana said it best when he came inside through the back door of my parents' cottage one afternoon, book in hand: "I can't concentrate out there." He'd found himself staring out at the water, succumbing to reverie instead of real estate reading, and not that there's anything wrong with that—or anything wrong with resisting the reverie—it's just that this place (and maybe it's true of all places that sit on a body of water) insists we adjust our definition of productivity.
The productivity that seems to work best here is the kind that leaves your skin smelling sun-warmed. The kind that involves tallying up the number of stops a lobster boat makes in the cove before you, or guessing how many minutes you have until you're ankle-deep in ocean.
One thing I did read that really spoke to me was this, by Richard Kraft:
Looking through the notebook of an artist or writer is a revelatory experience: To enter their laboratory, where they are free of the weight of expectation, is to witness the unpredictable process in which ideas, materials, forms are first conceived and tested, discarded or developed. Notebooks are mysteriously alive—thought laid bare. Notes, sketches, and collaged scraps reveal the strange and compelling metamorphoses that result when writers and artists experiment and play, opening the field of possibilities. What notebooks have—in comparison with more finely wrought, finished works—are imperfections and flaws that make for a different kind of complexity.
I'd argue that anyone's notebook—writer, artist, or otherwise—is a revelatory experience. Case in point: There's a balding man with vitiligo visible on his suntanned legs, sitting caddy-corner from us in a coffee shop. Beside his smartphone is a small spiral notebook, laying open; I caught a glimpse of it on my way to the counter to retrieve my latte and managed to read the top few lines of his handwritten schedule for today. Tell me you're not curious already.
1 hour Gardening
Clean up weeds
Anyway, it seems fitting in this 53rd week that I should come across such a description as Kraft's, one that crystallizes what it is I hope to achieve with these weekly notes: to share something that's decidedly alive, perhaps fragmented, capable of metamorphosis, and—and this is the big one for me—free of the weight of expectation. I forget this sometimes.
So, here's to another year of honoring the field of possibilities that exists when we show up fully. Maybe messy, probably incomplete, but fully.
(I hope you can allow yourself to believe that incompleteness, your general work-in-progress-ness, doesn't preclude your ability to show up fully.)
May my weekly notebook give you the permission you seek for your own process.
Ate: homemade sauerkraut, potato salad, spinach piccata, tomato-cucumber salad, spinach & feta omelette, overripe peaches
Visited: Rachel, Jay, Annie, Jodi, & Paul; Ken & Bev
Experienced: a sunset cruise on the Schooner Appledore out of Camden, Maine...where, after two generous pours of pinot grigio, I took it upon myself to speak shaky French to a group of (fortunately very friendly) Alsatian tourists
I've been thinking about daily writing as documentation, which led me to revisit Erica Van Horn's journal, Some Words for Living Locally (I seem to rediscover her every six months or so); I rabbit-holed my way to Notes from an Urban Hibernation, invited myself for a garden visit in South Tipperary, and spent some time admiring toast cave drawings. [Side note: I'm terribly fond of how Erica Van Horn and Simon Cutts are using Twitter.]
Did you know you can write up an obscure syllabus and submit it to Bookforum? I'm having fun looking through these and thinking up my own topics.
A few weeks back, I'd read Leslie Jamison's essay, "The Immortal Horizon," from her book, The Empathy Exams (The Believer published it online in May 2011; read it here). Just last night, I happened upon this four-and-a-half minute video on the Barkley Marathons, the 100-mile footrace in the Tennessee mountains (and the subject of Jamison's essay).
Squidding again Saturday night (we had friends in town who understand that having a new experience should trump bedtime always), I finally managed a great shot of the glowing cephalopods. Strange to hear myself say it, but I don't believe squidding is ever not magical and mysterious.