And has failed
I’m AKA sofasaurus because I revel in a sedentary lifestyle, so I relate. The one thing I still do which takes a lot longer is to hand water my outdoor container garden. It creates more movement (refilling my watering can), but I talk to each plant, feel the soil around them, pick the stray weeds and dead leaves, and generally access the health of my plants. Very rewarding too, when I see each day what I can harvest. Thanks for your always encouragement to make us better humans and better stewards of our tiny domains.
We are retiring after 30+ years in public education and moving from north central Idaho to Lummi Island in the San Juans next spring, ruthlessly downsizing, shedding off dishes and glassware and heirlooms and furniture and a family piano and excess clothing and cookware and many many books. I feel so torn because people like me are needed in Idaho to fight the extremists, the "patriots," the religious who feel compelled to force their tenets on their neighbors, those who want to destroy public education, those who are cheering the most restrictive abortion laws in the US, those who believe that the Nez Perce and others should just somehow get over the looming end of the salmon runs. But I'm tired and disabled. I am selfishly choosing to withdraw to a place with nature reserves and trails, herons and eagles, tides and a CSA, reef fishing for salmon, a community darts league. I know very well that we are privileged to be able to do so, I recognize the hideous suffering of others all over the world and here and yet, I am selfish, I am so weary, so very weary, and the end of my life is far more real than it used to be. I am also bitter, Chris, and resent rednecks and what gazillionaires are doing to our politics and our planet, and avoid Ted Talks like the plague. Thank you for building this community. It is a solace.
1. I got stuck in Bittersweet around page 100 I think -- I wasn't sure exactly what was making me feel..irritable? when i would pick it up, but I think what you've described sums it up nicely. I thought I'd love it but I just do not.
2. do you ever listen to For the Wild podcast? I just started listening to this episode: https://forthewild.world/listen/dr-clint-carroll-on-stewarding-homeland-299
3. I am reinspired to keep my phone in the basement and celebrate our lack of a dishwasher.
I want to embrace minimalism. It's not as easy when I live in a place where I usually have to drive to go for a walk.
I really appreciate the Bowman passage and want to chew more on movement and disability. As a disabled person who mainly spends time with other disabled people, conveniences and extravagances can also be hard-won accommodations. I think a lot about the convenience tax-- my ability (or necessity, regardless of whether I actually have the money) to buy something that allows me or my people to do something that others can do with ease and have more energy to do so very much rests on the labor/energy of other folks, who might very well also be disabled.
I've been thinking about movement, too. I feel great after doing an hour-and-a-half of yoga, but a) who has an hour-and-a-half to spend every day? and b) I always have this nagging voice in the back of my head as I look out into the world, where for so many people it's all they can do to just get survival done every day. Standing there in Warrior Pose seems a tad selfish and indulgent. Yes, I need to take care of myself. But Good Lord, time is such an unforgiving commodity!
So, I'm interested to read Movement Matters. Thanks for the tip!
I’m surprised how saddened I am about Engen’s death. The town feels hollow right now. Even after hearing about his cancer diagnosis, he seemed too strong of a presence to die. I wasn’t his biggest fan either but he was an effective administrator which sounds like feint praise but isn’t. He helped shape this community- for good and ill - during unprecedented growth and change. And I think his most important legacy was wrestling control of our water system from a multinational corporation. It’s hard to overstate how important that is considering what we’re facing with climate change.
So many things here! I love the idea of movement as a way of contributing to (or at least taking less from) the world. I always think of these conveniences in terms of time, but it's also true that they reduce movement. Given I've spent the past 3 weeks trying to unwind what I already knew needed to be unwound in my body but wasn't doing enough for it - namely poor movement patterns, too much sitting and chronic tension. Ironically I purchased a program called "Walking Well"earlier this summer which is Katy Bowman and Jill Miller. I only got to the 2nd lesson and then somehow didn't have time for it.
We won't talk about the other 3 programs I have started or half-heartedly done over the past 3 years knowing I needed to fix my posture and movement problems...or how I kept resisting the idea of standing and working because I can't focus well until I had no other choice. It's still true, I have trouble focusing and standing still is also not moving (just ask my Apple Watch which keeps telling me I haven't stood this hour when I've been standing the entire time). Now I am trying to figure out how to write and make art while still moving more! I resisted creating an herb garden properly because I didn't think I could do the manual labor needed to get it started (which is definitely true currently), yet once created it would be better for moving and I'd be growing something that benefits me and pollinators and perhaps that's something.
As for Bittersweet, I do get that. I started it put it down, finally started it again last week. What I did get out of it was how our toxic positivity has evolved (at least in my white-suburban-protestant culture) from Calvinism to Corporatism and how my agreement to keep forcing myself to "be good" (yes, I almost quoted her book in my last newsletter but I had to cut it out because it told me my post was too long for email) is also part of that whole colonialism/capitalism thing that is not good for the world. It's also not good for me because whenever we are lying to ourselves, our body will let us know.
My latest idea that I can't prove but I am pondering on is that it is difficult to open our hearts when we cannot hold boundaries and speak truth. The culture I have spent my life in has taught me not to hold boundaries and not to speak truth and I struggle mightily to be truly, deeply, compassionate. I care a lot. I listen a lot. And I have so much fear it makes me want to run away into the woods on a regular basis (which by the way I would not survive because my survival skills are like barely above zero).
So way more than you wanted but I so appreciate you tying the idea of movement to being able to do something small for the world. I really want to figure out how to do this thing, what I'm doing now, writing/typing/journaling/making art, while moving more. It must be possible because it sure seems necessary.
I appreciate Katy Bowman's work so much. It has changed the way I think about movement and opened my eyes to the way doing the less convenient thing -- which often requires me to move more -- is about more than just my individual efforts to live a less sedentary life.
Thanks, as always, for your writing.
"There are billions of people who can tell us exactly what this life looks and tastes and feels like but no one is asking them." YES. I really don't know whether to rage or completely despair at reading DJD's comments. I don't want to go off at him, but is he serious? If he is, then it reflects a serious paucity of both imagination and of exposure to stories that are unlike his own (and why "op-ed arguments"? How many people have access to a widely-read op-ed space who aren't already people almost exactly like him?). (Also seconding "Moon of the Crusted Snow," which was one book that popped to mind while reading this. Also N.K. Jemisin's "Fifth Season" trilogy. Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower" and "Parable of the Talents." Martha Wells's Murderbot series. A few of Barbara Kingsolver's books. Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven," which, while I didn't really love it, does in fact tell us what this life might look and taste and feel like.)
I heard an interview with Susan Cain a few years ago on I think Tim Ferriss's podcast and that was it for me. Do people reach a certain level where they get invited to do a TED talk and then circulate through all the same podcast hosts and end up on the same retreats and completely lose perspective on what life is like for everybody else?
Point well taken about #landback. One of the things I appreciated about the issue of Briarpatch you told me about (last year's?) that focuses on it is understanding exactly how complicated it is/would be. No phrase or idea should come to be a stand-in for actual, physical, real-life justice and equity, no matter how messy they get; maybe that's something we always have to be on guard for.
I hadn't heard of "Movement Matters" but those quotes hit me right where it counts!
Most people don't want to hear this, maybe especially from me, maybe especially because it feels like so little, but trying to turn one's community into a connected, walkable, bikeable place is, I honestly believe, a forefront of everything Bowman and many others talk about. It's a battle all the time, a battle with one's friends and neighbors, a battle with what comfortable people think they can give up, and what they think they should be entitled to. It is *unbelievable* sometimes how little people are willing to cede to get a community that a 10-year-old can safely bike from one side to another, that a wheelchair user can navigate with no inconvenience or risk, that someone doing shift work can be employed in without worrying about their car breaking down. And yet the payoffs are enormous, including climate, air quality, rare earth metal extraction, water pollution, equity, accessibility, ...
None of it is enough. All of it is a start.
Thank you, as always, for sharing. I have not read BITTERSWEET but it makes me want to vom 🤮
As always, it's a pleasure to spend time with you via your writing - makes me look forward to the new book that much more.
The Anishinaabe turtle creation story puts me in mind of the Buddhist Jataka parable of the little grey parrot: https://parabola.org/2017/01/31/the-brave-little-parrot-retold-by-rafe-martin/.
May we all do all we can, small as that may seem.
When we move, the whole world follows in our path.
All I have to recommend is minimalism. Just try... cutting back on everything... maybe 10%... just to see if you can do it. If you desire a more difficult exercise, fast for three days, water only. You will quickly see the monster inside you that you've kept tamped down with food, alcohol and drugs.
Yes, celebrating every moment on Turtle Island that something has tried to kill us and has yet failed.
So much to absorb here….but the movement part at the end really got me. I’ve started a job with 10-hour days and figuring in the commute and lunch I am away from home for 11+ hours a day which I tell myself is the reason I no longer take evening walks. (That and I left my walking partner-friend in my old town.) I walk on breaks at work, but will start being more intentional about all movement, even standing at my desk. Thank you for all the brain fodder.