Weekend Reading
October 10, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

You know those moments when a bunch of signs seem to show up at once, all pointing toward the same thing?

It’s World Mental Health Day, and this morning I posted something on Instagram about my ongoing effort to live in the present. This summer I told a friend of mine that, for the first time in my life, my main priority was to have good days and good memories.

I meant two things when I said this. The first is that I’ve become less concerned with the big picture of my life and more focused on moments. It’s the direct result of coming out of a depressive spell. All of the grandiose expectations and judgment that we apply to our lives feel ridiculous when you’ve just taken a long trip to your own darkest places.

On the other hand, any moment of joy, any sliver of light, feels priceless.

I also meant that I’d be willing to do what it takes to accumulate more good moments. For me, this means getting out of my head and into the world.

I’ve actually been doing what I said. I’ve been living for precious moments and taking life one day at a time.

I’ve learned that it takes both discipline and courage to live in the present. Discipline because my mind is always darting fearfully into the future or regretfully into the past. Courage because inhabiting each moment as if it could be the last encourages me to take risks. It’s easy to delay things like self-expression, vulnerability, or trying new things when we tell ourselves that we’ve got endless time. (We don’t.)

Speaking of yoga, I was thinking about this in yoga today. I was also having a good cry, because I’m wrestling with the unavoidable consequence of living more courageously, which is failing and getting hurt. I had my eyes tightly closed as I muscled through a posture, and my teacher gently said, “eyes open, Gena.”

She probably intuited, as all really good teachers can, that this was the right thing to say in the moment.

I opened my eyes. The pose was no less hard, but a bright, focused, and forward-looking gaze, or drishti, did help. It reminded me that I’m able to face what’s going on, to take life as it comes without hiding.

When I got home, my friend Kim had posted something on her Instagram that stuck with me. It’s poetry by Mel Eve, and it reads,

It requires the same amount of energy to keep your dreams contained, as it does to challenge your fears instead. And it causes the same amount of pain to learn from failure, as it does trying to learn how to live with regret. We have a limited amount of time on this planet, and betting against yourself is not the way it was intended to be spent.

The words reverberated. Depression has sparked my desire to live when I’m able to live. Living ushers in both pleasure and pain.

But Eve is right: the cost of regret is equal to the cost of failure. It may be a higher cost, actually, because we usually know what failure will cost us, but we don’t entirely know what can happen if things work out. The best things that have ever happened to me are things that I couldn’t and didn’t predict. I collided into them while I was busy living, out there in the big, beautiful, sometimes scary world.

I’m starting a new week with eyes wide open. Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

A perfectly fluffy vegan apple cake.

What a beautiful, colorful roasted eggplant salad.

Olive herb sourdough, yes please.

I need to roast parsnips more often.

I promise you that I’ll be veganizing these cookies soon!

Reads

1. It’s upsetting, yet amazing to watch this time-lapse map of Covid-19’s spread across the US, via Kottke.org.

2. NPR did a special report about food insecurity around the world. It features profiles of individuals who are struggling to stretch the food they have for themselves and their families. It’s heartrending.

3. The writer of this article notes that men who are hyper-focused on working out are often able to mask their disorders as “fitness.” I also like that he calls attention to atypical anorexia, in which a person demonstrates anorexic behaviors and the telltale terror of weight gain, yet does not have an underweight BMI.

4. An examination of the upsides and downsides of professional envy.

5. Finally, a thought-provoking look at facial recognition software and its limitations.

Sending you love on this gray and chilly autumn Sunday in NYC. Till soon.

xo

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  1. Gena, I loved the whole spirit of this post centering on the good moments. I have always been very focused and drawn to the moments and how they contain the universe in them, so to speak. Trying to take in the “whole thing” as a big plan is just too overwhelming to me, so I’m right with you! Thanks yet again, my dear! xoxo

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