Why I Started a Blog

When I was thinking about starting a blog–five or six years ago, back in 2009–my student, Kellan, told me that he thought his mom and I were the only people who read his blog. So, I thought hard. What if no one, including my mom, read my blog? What would be the point of it?

One of the reasons I came up with, was that it could become a kind of commonplace book for great quotes and insights and lines that I come across in my reading. Hence, the following quote:

“In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all of its moments–which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves. Unlike your experiencing self–which is absorbed in the moment–your remembering self is attempting to recognize not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery but also how the story works out as a whole. That is profoundly affected by how things ultimately turn out. Why would a football fan let a few flubbed minutes at the end of the game ruin three hours of bliss? Because a football game is a story. And in stories, endings matter.” —Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (238-239)

Be Still Sometimes

I have been reading Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. It’s a book about dying in America, and–for anyone dealing directly with this subject (and who among us is not?)–it is full of gems. One of them, in the chapter about his own father, is ODTAA syndrome: One Damn Thing After Another.

Anyway, I went searching this evening for Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey,” so I could share it with my friend Therese (who is definitely suffering from ODTAA; you don’t have to be dying to do so). And I found this poem, which I thought Therese could use as well. It’s for Sarah, too.

Poem for someone who is juggling her life

This is a poem for someone
who is juggling her life.
Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.

It needs repeating
over and over
to catch her attention
over and over
because someone juggling her life
finds it difficult to hear.

Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.
Let it all fall sometimes.

Rose Cook, from Notes From a Bright Field (Cultured Llama, 2013)

And did you even know that there is an International Juggler’s Association?