Weekend Reading
January 10, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’ve been trying to write something all day, without much success. Events of the past week have left me at a loss for words.

I was thinking that I’d post a weekend pause, telling you that I’d be back with regularly scheduled programming next week. But in the back of my mind was an exchange that I’d had with a friend earlier in the week, on Monday.

For some reason, I can’t stop thinking about it. And I thought that there must be a reason it keeps coming back to me. Maybe that’s a signal that I ought to share, that someone else reading will find meaning in it, too.

I’d been chatting with my friend about some personal struggles, some low points. He told me that the low points made his heart heavy for me. And then he asked me to do something. He asked if I’d please let him know when I had moments of moving in the other direction.

It was such a beautiful thing to say, really. It was an expression of care, one that showed a real understanding of how depression works. One of the hardest things about having depression, for me, is managing the feeling that people I’m close to are waiting for a linear trend upwards, or even for the day when poof! I don’t have depression anymore.

That’s not really how it works, which isn’t to say that I’m down all the time. I’ve felt pretty grounded this year, in spite of everything. But it’s a flux. Things move in different directions, as my friend suggested. Some stretches are long, some are short. I’ve learned to make peace with the motions, whether I’m in a bright spot or a darker one.

But it’s all too easy to dwell on the difficult moments, to focus on the darkness. And it’s so important to acknowledge the happy times, too, to give them the same attention and focus that we give struggle.

I was reminded of the time that a yoga teacher shared words that her mother had said to her. It was something to the effect of, “don’t only pray when you’re despairing or in need of help; God wants to hear from you in good times, too.”

My friend understood this. And now, I understand it, too. I’ll share the next completely random, joyous moment with him. And I’ll be sure to share it with all of you.

Commitment to recognizing joy, peace, and contentment doesn’t mean pretending that the feelings are there when they’re not. It simply means that we give them our awareness when they show up, refusing to let them be outweighed or shadowed by suffering.

I’m celebrating the next joyous moment that’s possible for me, for you, for all of us. It’s coming.

Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

I love the looks of Tieghan’s ginger sesame noodles with caramelized mushrooms.

A beautifully, wintery pumpkin hummus salad.

Vegan arancini!

This vegan sausage borlotti bean stew is calling my name right now.

Finally, I’d love to devour this whole stack of Constanze’s vegan stroopwafels!

Reads

1. Apparently a 2,000 year old snack bar was unearthed in Pompei. Pretty incredible.

2. A short history of peanut butter.

3. Ed Yong considers what the US will face as we head into the second year of the coronavirus pandemic.

4. An alternative to resolutions, intentions, or goals: choosing a word for a new year. (So far, I don’t have one.)

5. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about roads not taken this year—blame it on all of the quarantine solitude. It was interesting to read this meditation on regret and the allure of our unlived lives. Joshua Rothman writes,

“On the one hand, we understand that we could have turned out any number of ways; we know that we aren’t the only possible versions of ourselves. But, on the other, we feel that there is some fundamental light within us—a filament that burns, with its own special character, from birth to death. We want to think that, whoever we might have been, we would have burned with the same light.”

And,

“We all dwell in the here and now; we all have actual selves, actual lives. But what are they? Selves and lives have penumbras and possibilities—that’s what’s unique about them. They are always changing, and so are always new; they refuse to stand still. We live in anticipation of their meaning, which will inevitably exceed what can be known or said. Much must be left unsaid, unseen, unlived.”

Just as the past year has gotten me thinking about what ifs and should haves, it’s also shown me the importance of living in the here and now—no matter what else might be, or could have been.

On that note, I’m signing off. I always feel a lot of love when I publish these posts, but I’m sending out extra heaps of it tonight.

xo

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    1 Comment
  1. Dear Gena, can I just say that I’m amazed and impressed you wrote a post at all and that I love what your friend said to you. He held both things so beautifully. May we all do as well if we can. Love you

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