I wrote a thing about my aunt, Sue, who passed away last summer.... I still don't know what to do with this, really, but sharing it feels right today, especially as my grading slows at the end of the term, and I have some time to reorient my life, to find my way back to creating a life I love.
While Dan and I sat outside, my mom’s most recent, sweet gift sat on our kitchen table. It was a box of hot chocolate from Amazon. It was simple but so considerate, and it's the perfect illustration of how gracious my mom is.
I have always been a billboard for positive thinking. But not anymore.
I know how I got here, how I became this positive-thinking evangelical. I got here by combating anxiety with positive affirmations, moving toward success through imagining it, beginning with the end in mind.
I know, we can all agree that George Saunders is THE MAN. In fact, his book, Lincoln in the Bardo, just won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
While I know this is an esteemed award, there are two things George Saunders has done that I count as cooler:
He read as the Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished Speaker at CPCC's Sensoria (I'm obviously biased because I'm the co-chair of the committee who brought him.)
He went to Italy to Hear his own work--about Lincoln sitting in the tomb of his son--being performed in Italian while sitting in a tomb in Milan (so meta and So Italy)
What do the kids say now? #squadgoals
Because of his insistent presence on my Facebook NewsFeed, I've been thinking about Saunders and his work lately. And, thus, I turned back to my notes from his lectures and readings in Charlotte.
Therein, I found obvious wisdom, which is the sort we already know, but of which we need someone to remind us. And we need someone like George Saunders reminding us if we're actually going to listen.
Please know that these are not exact quotes, but scribbles from my notes, which were obviously accompanied by doodles.
1. What are your actual habits? Accept them.
Good God, no! I am always trying to improve my habits. But fine, Saunders, I hear you.
2. Watch yourself without judgement.
3. Game yourself.
This one might need a little explaining. I think Saunders was talking about how we have this need to "win the game." We shouldn't try to play ourselves or cheat ourselves, but we--our lives, ourselves, our souls--should be the game we set out to win. Win at being you. Game yourself.
4. No one can guarantee that you’re going to succeed as an artist, but it’s up to you to give yourself that chance.
5. Obstructions are what we are. Acknowledge them. They might be your strength.
6. Take 15 minutes a day to be like a dog. Catch one scent in your mind and follow it.
And that's what I've done. Right here. Right now. I've followed my nose for 15 minutes to share my thoughts with you.