vol 3. monthly recs & rabbit holes
resting into winter, death dreams, virtue of being boring
Sourced from issue no. 44 of Rabbit Holes: here are a handful of visuals, words, poetry, and pieces of art that stirred my soul for the month of January:
1. 💻 Open this issue in your web browser (not phone) at a time where you have at least 30 mins to read.
2. ☕ Grab hot tea or coffee
3. 👚 Change into something comfortable and ideally sit against some fluffy pillows, with your computer on your lap at a 45 degree angle
4. Light a candle 🕯️
5. 💨 Take 5 breaths and listen to this compassion meditation
6. Get reflective. Meditate on a question with this I Ching reading
7. 🎵 Press play for music. Listen while you read this issue.
The relation between nature and human being: Agnieszka Lepka
Cloud Tea House,
Lu Yu Tea Cultural Campus, Xisaishan Resort, Huzhou, China,
TADAO ANDO STUDIO OSAKA, 1991 Osaka, Japan
Six Senses Svart, Norway
[essay] Two kinds of introspection
“I guess I’m asking how I can find my own identity.”
Answering Kellie, Cave opens by saying, “You don’t need to know who you are to become an artist. Art molds us into the shape it wants us to be and the thing that serves it best.”
The self is not something you can set out looking for; it reveals itself gradually through the choices you make.
We must cease to concern ourselves with our unique suffering – whether we are happy or sad, fortunate or unfortunate, good or bad – and give up our neurotic and debilitating journeys of self-discovery. Art of true value requires, like a jealous and possessive god, nothing less than our complete obedience. It insists that we retract our ego, our sense of self, the cosmetics of identity and let it do its thing.
The way Cave frames it, introspection stands in the way of art. To make art, you need to lose yourself; you need to become a receiver of whatever art wants to communicate. If you spend too much time with a therapist, for instance, building up a complex model of who you are, that model is going to limit what you allow yourself to do.
Right up until the end. In her last days, it was not blood work or vital signs that foretold her death. It was a dream. If that sounds strange, it is because our society mostly shuns death and consequently knows little about dying.
“Medically,” Dr. D said, “Lisa is much better. Her vital signs are strong, and she is not experiencing any nausea. This is the good news. The bad news,” he continued, “is that your wife called the nurses in the middle of the night to say that she saw her parents on a boat outside the window beckoning her to come. I know this may not make sense,” he went on, “but we see this repeatedly in our patients. When patients report a vision like this, they almost always die within a day or two. I’m so sorry.” My wife died a little more than twenty-four hours later.
Kerr’s comment on this case helps explain why he is passionate about listening to the dreams and stories of his patients: there is wisdom at the end of life that is missed if one thinks dying is only about death and not also about life. “Old couples,” Kerr writes, “have much to teach us about true love. Their bond requires no big declarations, loyalty tests, or dramatic endings.… They continue to feel and believe in it even when the person through whom that love originated leaves them. For elderly patients especially, their love for their other half is who they are. Jobs, ambitions, hobbies, mortgages, and plans have come and gone. What is left and what matters is the relationships they have maintained, cherished, and tended to through a lifetime of small gestures and greetings, loving glances and humorous words, shared stories and forgiven faults.”
Peter Panagore shares the story of his Near-Death Experience, occurring while ice climbing in the Canadian Rocky Mountains on the Icefields Parkway. Peter and his friend went on a day ice climbing expedition in the mountains and were trapped unexpectedly overnight. Peter froze to death and experienced the Divine Light on the Other Side. He was then sent back into his body and was able to descend the mountain to tell his story.
"Know that you can still find a way out... and that's In" - Peter Panagore
[essay] the virtues of the boring draft
Boring the reader is a bad thing. It’s the cardinal sin of narrative and storytelling. Going on and on while the reader is bored is actually a sign of disinterest and disrespect, perhaps even immoral depending on how Protestant you are. But I have this theory that most boring patches of fiction stem from a writer trying to avoid being boring, and that such patches can be avoided by trying to bore the reader. Let me explain.
When I tell authors to try to bore me, to dedicate space and time to the listing of details about the circumstances of their characters, I am trying to get them to stop thinking in terms of psychology and abstraction. I am trying to get them to move away from their very excellent and refined taste, to forget the examples of the books they have read, and to focus instead on the surface of their story. Have they considered the most basic facts of their character standing in a room of strangers for the first time? Why have we not told the reader how the character has arrived to such a place? Why have we not told the reader what they hope to get out of being in such a place?What is the temperature of the room? What is the temperature of the wine? Is there a skin on the gravy at the buffet? What are the people talking about? Really, what are they talking about. The tax code? Lacrosse scores? Basketball? Politics? Religion? Are they telling bad jokes? Naughty jokes? Are the women eating? Are they pointedly not eating? Does the room smell like it’s been smoked in? How long have they been waiting in this room? What are they waiting for?
[essay] no good alone
Somewhere between hyper-capitalist motivation videos, pseudo-spiritual tweets, and Instagram therapy infographics, a predominant mental-health narrative has emerged on the internet. It takes many forms, but is perhaps best defined by its penchant for isolation: it begs you to “focus on yourself,” to “protect your peace,” to sever relationships that don’t serve you and invest your newfound time and energy into self-improvement. Seductively, it whispers that you “don’t owe anyone anything.” It glamourizes — and moralizes — a life spent alone.
Martyrdom feels entirely at odds with the self-optimizing solitude you see advertised by Instagram infographics and Twitter therapists — if you relate to one of the two phenomena, you likely feel completely repulsed by the other — but I think they are far more like mirror images than opposites. Both strategies rely on the fantasy that isolation can eliminate harm to yourself or others. They both use the idea of your own healing as a metric for the kind of relationships you deserve to experience. Both centre around the same fundamental belief that we have to be perfect in order for people to love us, or to be deserving of the love we’ve been given. Most damning of all, they are both infected by the same rotten premise: that it is possible, even ideal, to get better by yourself.
It is a cruel and fundamentally inhuman tragedy that the culture has convinced so many of us that we must be healed in isolation, because being surrounded by people — people who love us, or care for us, or are willing to sit in the same room with us while we clean up our messes — is about the only way that I, for one, have ever been able to get better.
[film] We Are as Gods
“We are as gods and might as well get good at it,” wrote Stewart Brand in 1968, as the opening sentence to the now iconic Whole Earth Catalog. For decades, Brand has had an uncanny ability to push “ideas that seem at the edge of believability,” accelerating progress in culture, technology, environmentalism, and more. His approach to work and life influenced many technologists who have gone on to shape our modern world, including Steve Jobs. We Are As Gods, produced by Stripe Press, is the first feature film about Brand’s remarkable life.
Marrying never-before-seen footage with contemporary interviews, the film chronicles his journey, from his early days with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters through the birth of the personal computing revolution, to his latest quest to reorient environmentalism.
thanks for coming down the rabbit hole with me today. for the full issue you can jump down 🕳️🐇
wellness wisdom is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.