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If you read only one book this year,

let it be this one: When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi.

It received all the accolades our society can give a book.*

As for me, I listened to the book while working on “Respect” quilt no. 4. I’m doing the tie-quilting now, a slow laborious task conducive to peaceful reflection. In listening to the words of When Breath Becomes Air, I felt like I was sitting next to a dear wise friend who, just like me, was searching in literature–ancient and less so–for guidance on living a good life. A life that means something in the big scheme of things, at least such as a human can do. Paul Kalanithi loved English literature deeply and studied Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot and cites their beautiful words throughout this book. He also cites authors I’ve never heard anyone cite, but who are dear to me, like Osler, a famed doctor whose book (pub. 1919) I discovered during 2016-18, while mentally preparing myself to depart from the university, the only identity I’d ever known.

If you seek wisdom about how to live life with integrity, in poetic and philosophical prose, if you wonder how to face death, and don’t mind receiving technical knowledge about how lung cancer makes its way through the human body (useful, but not really a genre I’d seek out), read Paul Kalanithi’s book, When Breath Becomes Air.

Or listen to it, as I did. I think I’ll do so again some day. I bought the book too; it will likely arrive in a couple weeks. I look forward to the book arriving here in my home. When I see it, I will feel reassured, knowing he is there and I can visit his mind again, for times when I feel sad or alone or meaningless. He died at age 37, and I’m still here in my sixth decade. Pretty lucky.

In the meantime, I went back to Osler this morning and found this quote, my farewell for now to you, dear reader. Remember Osler was writing in 1919:

“Let us not be discouraged. … If survived, a terrible infection, such as confluent small-pox, seems to benefit the general health. Perhaps such an attack through which we have passed may benefit the body cosmic. … Plato concludes that ‘States are as the men are, they grow out of human characters’ (Rep. VIII), and then, as the dream-republic approached completion, he realized that after all the true State is within, of which each one of us is the founder, and patterned on an ideal the existence of which matters not a whit. Is not the need of this individual reconstruction the Greek message to modern democracy? and with it is blended the note of individual service to the community.”**

P.S. Thank you Seattle Public Library for the audiobooks service!

* It was a New York Times bestseller, spending 68 weeks on the non-fiction bestseller list at publication in 2016. Matt McCarthy of USA Today gave it 4 out of 4 stars and said, “It’s a story so remarkable, so stunning, and so affecting that I had to take dozens of breaks just to compose myself enough to get through it.” Nick Romeo of The Boston Globe wrote that it, “possesses the gravity and wisdom of an ancient Greek tragedy.” Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly stated that the book was “so original—and so devastating. . . . Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Breath_Becomes_Air

** Sir William Osler, “Old Humanities and New Science,” pp. 96-97. see “Favorite Books” on this blog.

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health humor meditation T'ai chi wisdom

Day Five: when a wall is enough

Hello,

It is now just 35 days til D-day, and anxiety is flitting around the edges of my psyche.

There are so many details that it boggles the mind. (There is so much stuff to move or discard!  There are so many decisions to make! There are deadlines to meet, lodgings to arrange, roads to ponder, strangers to encounter! There are so many unknowns…. argh!!!) It is exhausting even to think of them, on top of all the scary and startling news coming at us from the world which I duly read in today’s papers.

What to do?

Fight back. Discern between urgent, important, and essential, and make time for essential things to be urgent. In other words, instead of launching into anxious detail mode first (real estate agents!  furniture movers! cleaning services! money money money to pay!), I’m sticking with the morning routine.

Why? Because the rigorous morning routine reminds me of my essence. It makes me feel good. And today, my essence feels a little out-of-whack. It is jangling with nerves. So, while doing today’s standing meditation, I deliberately gazed upon a wall instead of looking at the living kaleidoscope going on outside the windows.

(I took a photo of the blue corner to post here, but now the wi-fi connection to my phone is not working! Argh!!!)

I gazed at a corner, where two walls meet. Looking closely at it, and its cool blue hues reflected in the morning light, I realized it is actually a slightly rounded space, not a sharp angle. This reminded me of Bob Klein’s lesson about in-between places in T’ai chi. I’ll copy it for you here. Then I will go and do my silent exercise routine, knowing that the move will happen, one way or another, and that it will be fine (or good enough, anyway).

“Another important lesson of the Form consists of the in-between places–the transitions from one movement to the next in which momentum gives out in one direction and begins in a new direction. Logically, there should be a point at which the body comes to a complete halt. Yet this point is so imperceptible that you could say it does not exist. As the momentum gives out in an arm moving toward its own body, for example, the arm gradually slows down at the very end. As it begins its new direction, it gradually speeds up. Yet this alteration is so subtle that the arm appears to be moving at a constant speed.”

Klein ends this foray into the technical minutiae of T’ai chi with a reminder that our main goal is simply to do the Form!  Despite all aspirations toward perfection, the only rule is “Don’t stop now.” He concludes: “When you are no longer tense and rigid, all you have left is laughter” (Movements of Magic, 8).

Bottom line: Get a grip on your nerves. Exercise and meditate as usual. Do those things which are necessary today, but continue strengthening yourself within. What we do today will make tomorrow easier, but only if we do not exhaust ourselves in doing it.

Good luck! ^_^

 

Categories
health meditation T'ai chi Zen philosophy

day three: inaction in action

Another delightful paradox of preparing for a move: some days, all you need to do is to continue doing what you are doing. Nothing more is required.

As our agent wrote yesterday in response to last week’s house inspection, “So nothing to do now.”

This message reverberated with me deeply and made me feel very peaceful. I love it when someone tells me to do nothing!

(Now that I think of it, people have been trying to tell me this for some time: witness the black plastic wu-wei bracelet I’ve been wearing since a wise friend gave it to me back in February. Boy, can we humans be slow to catch on.)

It is all about responding appropriately to life’s events, instead of thrashing out blindly in fear and self-protection.

I read and pondered this while practicing today’s 30-minute standing meditation (part of the morning routine):

“The essence of the distinction between these two lies mostly in the quality and state of mind. If an action is free from fear and obsessive desire (and I do not mean free from feeling fear or having desire; I mean not bound to, motivated by, or influenced by them), and receptive to the real condition; and most importantly, if the mind and energy are not disturbed or disrupted in any way by the stimulus that calls for action; then it is responsive. Thus, if the stimulus does not call for action, no action is taken; whereas a reaction occurs whether action is called for or not.”

“Maintaining this condition of relaxed balance and postural integration is as delicate as it is effective.”*

If this all sounds too cerebral or abstract for you, try a living experiment instead. Stand up, put your feet together so that your heels touch, and bend your knees so they feel springy like in a jack-in-the-box. Put your feet at 90 degrees to each other, with your tail bone tucked under your spine. Feel your spine click into comfort. Hold that posture for a while.

(As per the advice of T’ai chi Master Peng, I do this while looking out a window every morning for 30 minutes. Although this is much less than the three hours he does each day, it has had miraculous effects on my balance, hip-joints, and all-around sense of well-being.)

As you stand, you will feel your balance shifting back and forth between your feet and legs. You will realize it is a continual movement that keeps you upright. You are always doing that thing; you are always staying upright! So give yourself some credit for that. Let your role in life slide into observing instead acting, when it is appropriate.

* Peter Ralston, Principles of Effortless Power, 48.

 

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friendship happiness health meditation music wisdom

better than a mirror–music

Hilary Hahn Bach chaconne

Today I inadvertently discovered another way to meditate. Believing (erroneously) that I was running late, I meditated for only 15 minutes in front of the window watching the crows and the trees bending in the breeze, did the morning routine as usual… and then realized I was an hour early!

So, following the suggestion of a brilliant young violist friend (and former student), I clicked on Hilary Hahn playing Bach’s Chaconne, then settled back into the posture for 15 more minutes. How interesting, to feel the music pouring over my life and lifting my spirit into its swirls of feeling. (I swear more than one person was playing that violin! Hilary Hahn is wonderful.)  As she played and I followed in spirit, loving every moment, I kept hoping it would not end before the alarm rang. But when it did, the silence felt like a dear old friend.

Thanks, Travon.  (Can’t wait to hear you play this piece next month!)

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creativity friendship health meditation

a challenge awaits tomorrow

Today was wonderful in many ways, but one thing stands out for its jaw-drop amazement value. I’m still reeling and wondering what will happen tomorrow.

First a plug for my Tranquility Pillows, via Honey Girl Books and Gifts! I delivered two to the Notre Dame Counseling Center today, for all those anxious folks on campus to gain some relief. Midterms are this week–a good week to disconnect from those phones.

Speaking of disconnecting, can you disconnect from yourself in the mirror?

I had lunch with a friend who I’m starting to suspect knows me better than I realize… or at least she has rapidly zoomed in on a long-time phobia. After sharing many anecdotes of our various creative processes and projects, I told her about my morning routine and how good it makes me feel etc. etc, and she said, “Could you do the meditation in front of a mirror?”

OMG. Never, ever would I have chosen that challenge. I hate mirrors.

I realize she is forcing me to go beyond the comfort zone. It is true. I read and blab all about integrity, being grounded, being “full and complete, yet empty with nothing to protect” (Ralston). I wax poetic about the sky and birds and trees, time and timelessness, “letting go” and being mindful. But can I bear the simple challenge of looking at myself for thirty minutes?  (Can you?)

Tomorrow is day one. Not only do I detest this idea, it also happens that the five days of the challenge lead right across my birthday. But a deal is a deal, and now I’m getting kind of curious.

I said I’d do it if she would do it. But she actually likes to look at herself in the mirror! (For me, it’s more a question of wondering who that person is. She looks happy and fit, but … well, kind of old.) I definitely look more like the elders than the youngsters in in the beautiful and poignant series “Reflections: Portraits of the Elderly Seeing their Younger Selves,” by Dallas-based artist Tom Hussey.  (I especially love the seamstress).

More to come on this bizarre and disconcerting 5-day challenge.

Do it yourself if you dare!

 

Categories
Chinese literature creativity happiness health T'ai chi wisdom Zen philosophy

simple tools for the art of living

simple tools

People spend money on devices to make them feel better. Yet it is not necessary to strap a plastic band to your arm or scroll across a metallic screen, to feel good on a daily basis.

If you, like me, seek to simplify your life, may I recommend some excellent basic tools.

After that long trip to France and New York, today was the first day I feel strong and centered again. Just as the trip was not a haphazard event, but took much planning, the equilibrium achieved today represents one part of a long-term, creative way of life.

La chance, ça se prépare.  {good luck comes from good planning}

The image above shows the simple tools I used today. They include:

  1. Peter Ralston, The Principles of Effortless Power
  2. Mai-Mai Sze, The Tao of Painting
  3. The little notebooks where I record my daily routine. (The routine is described here). It includes meditation, warm-up exercise and the 45 min. T’ai chi sequence. NB: As you can see, the little notebook records a person’s handwriting, and allows for short thoughts to be recorded and pictures or doodles to accompany the fitness record.
  4. The basic laptop computer where I watch the video of Master Peng and practice T’ai chi Yang style 108. (It was recorded last year in a gym near my home.)

C’est tout!   {that’s all!}

Here are the quotes that guided my spirit this morning, I read them with my morning coffee.

from Ralston, “Fill out and be complete, yet be empty with nothing to protect.  … Integrity, like relaxing, grounding, being calm, and centering, must permeate all aspects of our activity.” (Principles, 17)

from Sze, “In the handling of vast space, their [Southern Sung]  ink paintings are some of the greatest expressions of the human spirit. … they merged the details in mists, obliterated them in space, and emphasized by depth of distances the silent majesty of nature and the mystery of the Tao. … The great oceans on these maps were space, the perfect symbol of which is merely the black silk or paper, and in many instances was so represented in paintings. By the directness and purity of this device, the awareness of space was made more acute and its effects more profound. … it should be added, however, that the effectiveness of blank spaces was achieved only through contrast with the vitality of the brushstroke that rendered the forms it surrounded.”  (Tao of Painting, plate I, Landscape by Yen Tzu-yu, XII-XIII centuries, Sung Period), below.

Landscape by Yen Tzu-yu, 12--13th c China Sung Period.jpg

The “reverential” attitude toward the vastness of the cosmos in this artwork is refreshing in the early morning. As my mind took its time emerging from sleepiness with lovely strong coffee, it was pleasant to contemplate the unknowingness that exists above the blue sky. It was good to put my feet flat on the floor and think about gravity and living on earth. With so much ugliness from humans contaminating our senses and our media-saturated public spaces, it is refreshing to see people in this painting represented as tiny things in contrast with the soaring space of the evanescent clouds.

Later on, I found this good quote in The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp:  “A lot of habitually creative people have preparation rituals linked to the setting in which they choose to start their day. By putting themselves into that environment, they begin their creative day.  … What makes it a ritual is that they do it without questioning the need.” (Creative, 16).

I don’t know about you, but with a rigorous, uplifting morning routine, artwork like Yen Tzu-ya to contemplate, and good thoughts from great thinkers in mind, I can sail through any day.

I felt calmly content as I did every single thing I did today–not only a good conversation with a young friend, but also the more banal things like the long cold walks from a parking lot to a meeting, a visit with an uninteresting salesman, and the time I spent out at Dale’s Auto, waiting for a ride after a mixed-up communication. (Rich is watching some loud obnoxious sport channel right now–a good test of my mettle! But even those loud, aggressive men on TV cannot bother me.)

It is all good simply because it is, and was, my life.

And soon, it will be “fun time” again with Honey Girl.  I wonder where she’ll take me this evening?

 

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creativity dogs happiness health humor meditation nature storms T'ai chi trees Zen philosophy

a few of my favorite things

 

 

Today I declared a personal snow day and canceled all three of my appointments. They were friendly visits anyway, and we’ll all see each other soon. Instead of driving around and dealing with the traffic and weather, I stayed home. Rich made bread, which means that the house was warm and smelled soooo good for several hours this morning.

Honey girl in morning.jpg

Favorite thing: Honey Girl and her warm fuzzy greetings every morning.

Favorite things: exercise and meditation. I got to catch up with my Morning Routine which felt restorative.

Favorite thing: I organized all the fabric in my studio (aka the guest bedroom) and took stock of the inventory. Wrote stuff down. That felt good.

Favorite thing: I moved forward on the three pillows I’m finishing this week, plus the quilt. Starting to feel like a real artisan.

 

 

Favorite things: There are many things in these pictures to love:

  1. an adorable French postcard now messed up by living in the kitchen but that makes it even more precious13 postcard.jpg
  2. a pepper mill by the French brand Pylones (a “must” whenever you’re in Paris, n’est-ce pas? soo cute!)
  3. a beautiful round loaf of Rich’s crusty French bread,
  4. the “fabricard” I created to accompany the Limited Edition Literary Pillow. This one accompanies No. 1, The Ladies’ Paradise, by Zola. The citations will zero in on key moments in the book to give readers a satisfying sense of what the book is about.
  5. Pillows that I am working on, with my sturdy 1928 White Rotary sewing machine!  The full repertoire of Honey Girl Books and Gifts is due Friday December 15, for the SPARK class graduation at Saint Mary’s College. I’m almost ready. Snow days are helpful. And being on winter break from teaching too.

Speaking of which, the website for my new business, Honey Girl Books and Gifts, is now available!   https://www.honeygirlbooks.com/

It’s not quite “official start” ready yet, because the purchase function and A.V. stuff aren’t plugged in yet, but you can email me at juliawsea@gmail.com if you want to get a jump on the crowds!  I’ll accept pre-orders from readers of this blog.

***

View from Sunroom Dec 12 2017

Now back to the contemplation of favorite things.

As I was moving around in silence this morning, enjoying the light snow outside and the cozy sounds of this old house, and Rich and Honey Girl moving around downstairs, I suddenly felt a Zen sense of detached observation.

Watching the quick industrious ways my mind and hands were working together, I thought of an article read in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. It is one of the most startling and useful metaphors for how the mind works (along with William James, to whom we will return one day), that I have ever seen. And, as a professor of literature for 30+ years, I’ve seen a lot! It made me feel serene, and affirmed more than ever the new path I’m on. Change, physical vitality, and hope: that’s what is making me feel so young these days.

Citing the work of Sigmund Freud to explain the antecedents of Oliver Sacks’s discoveries, the reviewer Nicole Krauss writes, “Freud wrote that he had come to explain psychoneuroses ‘by supposing that this translation has not taken place in the case of some of the material.’ In other words, that our psychological health depends on our ability to constantly revise and refashion memory to allow for growth and change, and the absence of this process–the stagnation of a memory, the brain’s treatment of it as something fixed–leads to pathology.”

“This is an extraordinary insight,” continues Krauss, one that helped to establish our understanding of the self as flexible instead of static, and our sense of the past as an imaginative reconstruction, ever evolving, both of which make therapy possible.”

The reviewer notes rightly that Oliver Sacks, as a neurologist and brilliant writer, “deepened our understanding of the dynamic, creative abilities of the brain by uncovering, again and again, the unusual ways the impaired brain may deal with its handicaps, compensating in ingenious ways, or by creating plausible explanations for the nonsensical, thus preserving a form of coherence, however subjective. ” [Sounds like some of Sartre’s characters.]

As Krauss explains, Sacks’s work is particularly powerful for young writers, who suddenly are able to see how “for the brain, the coherence that narrative forges is paramount to an accurate account of reality.”

I agree with Krauss that narrative is a primary human activity, without which we waste away.  That is what my narrative quilts are all about!

***

See Jane E. Brody’s piece on loneliness in today’s New York Times. After reading that, I reflected on 1) how lonely I used to feel last year, and 2) what has made me feel better.  Here are the things I am grateful for:  1) reading Byron Katie and learning to do “the work” on the thoughts that come into my head; 2) learning to practice T’ai Chi and meditation daily; 3) sewing; and 4) being able to channel my creativity into things I love, instead of trying to please external censors. As a businesswoman, I will see if there are any buyers out there. As they say, Some Will, Some Won’t, So What. Surely there is some lonely soul out there, or a grandma or a lover, who would like to give one of my soft and lustrous goods to a beloved?

At any rate, I don’t have to worry about some jerk at Stanford any more.

I wrote to Jane Brody, actually, with a compliment on how her article made me realize things, and an offer. I proposed a complimentary quilt from my new business, to see if she might agree that it has therapeutic effects.  We’ll see if she replies!

In the meantime, it appears that we weavers of meaning, artists of cloth, paper and pen, are all entirely “normal.” Whatever that is.

Whiteout Dec 12 2017

 

 

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health humor meditation T'ai chi trees Zen philosophy

flu symptoms and t’ai chi: to do or not to do?

Another day of feeling out of sorts. Made it to morning class but was showing flu symptoms by 2pm or so. Canceled a meeting to go home and rest. On the way home I felt sorry for myself, thinking, “I feel crappy. This is what I feel at this time of year every year, when the students get sick and then we all get sick and I hate the end of the semester, and I always get sick at Christmas, what a drag it all is, blah blah blah blah blah blah.”

And I thought, “God, are you boring. Shut up. This is today. The only today I’ve got. This is no longer those other years. What if I try the morning routine even though I feel crappy? Maybe my body would feel better. I can always stop and lie down if it doesn’t work out.”

So I did.

First the standing meditation, looking out the window from our son’s room here. Gazing at those colorful leaves gently moving in the wind, it was easy to practice the “fuzzy thinking” of Zen contemplation. With my hips more open from the V stance, the tightness and aches around my lower back faded away. With my mind peaceful and calm, I remembered the many fabulous things that are happening these days, and how lucky we are to be here in this pretty house.View from Max's room Nov 28 2017 Then, the T’ai chi sequence as usual, in the other son’s room with the shades drawn shut. (Master Peng told us to practice it that way. It is very calming.) And as I moved to the sinuous sequence of Yang long style 108, it seemed like my inner torso of organs was loosening up from the grasp of nerves and tension. Being very attuned to my queasy stomach and stuffy head, I observed as the symptoms drifted away. Doing that long twisty sequence, I felt like I was becoming animal-like, agile and fluid. I felt happy. I was smiling. I smiled for several minutes and ended in a state of alert calm.

So I thought I’d describe that to you.

It appears flu symptoms can subside under the impact of what the Chinese call chi or vital energy. It is chi that circulates in the body up the spine. I often look at the kind of strange pictures (below) that Master Peng gave us last summer. One is a Chinese myth of a journey that begins at the bottom of the spine and moves its way up to the head and enlightenment. The chi is symbolized by the ball of white fire at the navel. The goal of Tai chi being to move that ball of white fire up as far as you can while you move.

These pictures inspire me to describe the experience in metaphor instead of science.  If anybody wants to explain to the blog how T’ai chi works scientifically, that is fine with me; please do! (I’m no M.D.; I’ve got a degree in French lit!)

In his wise and funny books, Bob Klein warns practitioners of T’ai chi that everybody will think you’re crazy if you start talking about it. But with all the miserable people I see around the campus and city and country and world, and all the colleagues, neighbors, friends and relatives I have who seem to be getting decrepit, sad, and old before their time, I feel it is urgent to let people know that T’ai chi exists. And it still works, just as it did in Ancient China. I am living proof of it. I feel pretty good tonight!

Charts of chi and spine and organs all attached

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health nature T'ai chi wisdom

morning routine

Dawn in Indiana November 2017

Dear readers,

Today is the six-month anniversary of a morning routine I began in a tiny apartment in Paris last May. I have done it every day without fail: in people’s guest rooms, in a log cabin on the Olympic Peninsula, in a Reno hotel room looking out over neon lights, and in my home in South Bend.*  You can do it anywhere.

I have lived for more than five decades and have tried all kinds of exercise routines in my life—jogging, aerobics, gym machines—yet I have never been able to stick to a routine this long. Nor have I ever felt so good, consistently, over such a long period of time. So I think there’s something special about it.

Here it is, with warm wishes for good health—in mind and body—to all.

Morning routine

  1. Get up two and a half hours before departure time. (For a 7:30 departure, get up at 5:00).
  2. Enjoy your favorite warm beverage and a light breakfast (I have cappuccino with two shots of espresso and 2% milk, and a sliced banana in plain yogurt)
  3. Choose a pretty window and pull back the curtain. If you’re rushed, you can enjoy your breakfast while doing this. Stand in front of the window, with your heels touching, knees flexible, and feet set at a 90 degree angle. Hold that position for 30 minutes, with head up, eyes roaming around, ears listening, and shoulders relaxed. The hands and arms can cup each other, hang loose, or stretch. It is important to hold the pelvic basin tucked underneath your torso, so that the spine is straight (as if you were suspended from the ceiling with a silver chain).
  4. Walk around a little to stretch out your legs. Put on cooler clothes.
  5. Begin one-hour exercise session:   a. Do five deep knee squats, as slowly as possible, and hold the deep squat for a count of five seconds, each time.  Hands are pressed against each other in a prayerful position, back is straight, pelvis pulled in.   b. Do twenty push-ups with legs tightly balanced on toes (man-style).  c. Walk around a little, breathe, have a sip of water.  d.  Repeat a. and b.
  6. Do a full session of Yang long style T’ai chi! Follow the video of Master Peng’s T’ai chi class, all sessions 1 – 9.
  7. Take a shower and get dressed, including flat shoes or boots (no high heels).
  8. Get your work in order and step out to meet the world, knowing you have the power to feel strong, balanced and calm, all day long!

*According to Master Peng, you can take a day off from T’ai chi once a week. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

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humor meditation social media wisdom Zen philosophy

on “consuming” content–how’s your digestion?!

I just attended a class on social media for small business owners in the program called SPARK at Saint Mary’s College. It is an excellent program overall. I found today’s lesson disorienting, however, because it so squarely confounded the way that human beings learn and evolve into creatures with wisdom. It was also revealing because of the assumptions laid bare, on what knowledge is when it exists on-line.

As an effective instructor, the teacher maintained a focused attention on two main criteria for social media: 1) on “content” and how to get it; and 2) on “consuming” the content most useful for you.

Let us stop for a moment and weigh what those words mean.

To “consume” means: 1) to do away with completely–to destroy (as in “the fire consumed the house”); 2) to spend wastefully, squander or use up (as in worrying “consumes much of our time”); 3) to eat or drink, esp. in great quantity (they “consumed a whole keg of beer”); or 4) to engage fully, to engross (he was “consumed with curiosity”).

Content” means: 1) something contained–usually used in the plural (“the jar’s contents” or “the book’s contents”); 2) the substance, meaning or significance in a work of art, performance, or writing; or 3) the matter dealt with in a field of study.

Now, if we put “consume” (destroy, squander, eat in great quantity, or engross) alongside “content” (something contained, substance, meaning or study), we can see what is wrong with this way of thinking.  There’s no there there.  It creates an endless echo chamber of words without significance, bouncing around in destructive speed, for no purpose.

May I suggest that we human beings in 2017 might want to spend less time “consuming” stuff and more time on digesting what we read, experience, see or otherwise encounter?

To “digest” means: 1) to distribute or arrange systematically; 2) to convert (food) into absorbable form; 3) to take into the mind or memory; 4) to soften, decompose, or break down by heat, moisture or chemicals; or 5) to extract soluble ingredients from.

It’s lunchtime now, so I’m going to sign off and eat my sandwich in peace. I may read a book for a class later today, or I might just stare out the window and watch the people going by, the squirrels running up trees, the leaves falling, on this splendid autumn day.

May I suggest we all stop surfing, tweeting, “liking,” and otherwise “consuming content” for a while?  Take the time to digest what you do read.  Try it just for one day and see how you feel.

Bon appétit!

FYI:  Definitions borrowed from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2002), 248, 249, 323.