I am in such a rush for this school year to be over I am counting down the weeks in small, manageable units. This begins week 2 of 5 before Easter break. Then 5 again before the summer.

At the same time, I hate that I am willing the weeks to roll by quickly. I’m painfully aware of how precious time is now. I need to find a way to sit with this contradiction, knowing that there’s no way to resolve it. In theory yes: breathe into the discomfort, stay in the moment, find perspective on the emotions. But in praxis?

I know I’m not alone. Just when we thought that the pandemic was over in terms of a real threat to whole communities, new threats flame up like half-forgotten campfires.

I am not happy with my writing this morning, but I can hear the crackling of wood re-igniting. The unpredictable popping. And a sizzle. It seems like a meditative transition from the fires in the world right now: to pull up a campfire. Maybe go sit with one. Away from all the uncontained fury online. I think I need that. I need to get away from the dominant rubric for politics that dominates the media.

I want to understand.

Understanding why someone might do something, seeing their perspective, does not mean endorsing their actions or their perspective. It is also possible to understand and still condemn.

And there is no such thing as pure left and right – it is one hellava messy Venn diagram of issues and opinions and perspectives. I have stopped reading US news sources because of this bizarre divide.

It is especially odd that this binary is solidifying at the same time many people are questioning other binaries. Odd is putting it mildly. It is a kind of hypocrisy.

And it is why I have thought I should leave social media so often. It doesn’t bring people together to promote understanding. It brings them together to reinforce predetermined opinions. To form a front. To intimidate and shut down perspectives that aren’t militantly aligned with their own. Slogan for slogan. Rage is contagious. And rage is rarely helpful. Second-hand rage seems especially fruitless.

I think about what people did to one another under the occupation here. Intentional, accidental. I think about literal and metaphorical witch hunts and the settling of old grudges under convenient new banners – consciously or unconsciously.

Old hates just shift their headlines.

Facebook has lifted its ban on hate speech when it is regarding Russian soldiers. There was a two-week window when hate speech aimed at the Irian leaders was permitted. Facebook is determining – around much of the world – what is “socially” acceptable to hate. Are we thinking about the implications of that while we are reading our feeds?

I think I am smart. But I am uncomfortably aware of how malleable my opinions are, how easily I am swayed without my even noticing. I catch myself now and then going with the flow.

I condemn the actions of Putin as much as anyone I know. But I won’t celebrate dead Russian soldiers. I don’t think those these are inseparable. There are more than two columns to separate the world into.

Real-life is not 0 and 1.


I think a few minutes on the beach with a small bonfire might do me good. This isn’t ending anytime soon. Or ever actually. Waiting for a vacation is just foolish.

Deep breath. Find the awesome things out there and sit with them. Right?

This morning I am making significant changes in how I use social media. This is part of a huge shift in my priorities in general. How I want to use my time. In some ways, it feels odd to do this now. It seems self-serving. Focusing on that very first circle of awareness at a time when there is so much immediate trauma in the distant reaches of my awareness.

I keep reminding myself that it is about balance. And about making room for genuine responses to the larger world. I do nothing to benefit the world, passing on memes or summarizing what I read in a news article. I have to acknowledge and then give up the desire to be the “first to know”. The currency of relevance. I am not relevant in terms of current events.

But I do have something to give.

I remember my publisher referring to books as “ferske varer” – produce that goes quickly out of date. And I get that – in our market-driven system – that is a fact. But I figure there has to be another way of approaching art. A way to avoid being swept up in the attention economy, the consumerist throw-away society.

I don’t think I am advocating preciousness. Just attention.

This is my problem. I’m not making blanket statements about the state of the arts.

I know there are artists who strive to make that one beautiful thing. And there are artists who are driven by other (legitimate) impulses. I think that I have spent years waiting for inspiration, in the sense that I have been expecting that the outside world would cause a worthy reaction: “The artist responds to their culture”, “Art needs to be relevant”. Relevant to who or to what? My culture – our culture changes so quickly. Maybe change itself is the only thing one can honestly respond to.

I need to slow down. Step away from social media’s armchair generals, and the what-I-ate-for-dinner photos. I need to turn off the podcasts I’ve been listening to for hours a day. I need quiet.

It may be age? If it is, so be it. Maybe I am old enough to recognize what stays. To be concerned with what stays.

Maybe art dies. The way Peter Brook talks about a deadly theater, I think there are deadly artworks on the walls of galleries, too. In books.

I’ve written seven books, including one that was consciously “relevant” and is dead to me now. I don’t want to do that again.

I don’t want to grasp at the present.

I’m making clay from recycled paper. An ouroboros in praxis.

Shhhhh.

This is not a treatise. It is a diary entry. Nothing more.