Obligatory Colossal Post. Lots more at the link:
Five Easy Things to a Happier Year -- National Catholic Review
I'm keeping it light on the New Year's resolutions/intentions this year. I'm already running a half marathon, promoting a book and planning the next one---that's plenty to keep me busy. Plus I'm all about the improv and less about the major planning. But I can get behind these:
Be a Little Kinder. I think that 90% of the spiritual life is being a kind person. No need to have any advanced degrees in theology or moral reasoning, and no need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s religious traditions, to get this: Be gentler and more compassionate towards other people.
I like the one about enjoying nature more. Reminds me of one of my father-in-law's practices. When he comes home from work, he takes a moment between car and house to look up. Just to see what the sky looks like. I love that.
This one gets in my craw. It's not the most pressing issue we face, but it is a justice issue and a spiritual issue:
Like many of you, I am on vacation this week. For most Americans, Christmas week represents about half of the time off we will enjoy all year long. Compared with Australians (at least 4 weeks off, plus 10 public holidays), Brazilians (22 days of paid leave with a 33 percent salary vacation bonus) and the French (at least 5 weeks off and as many as 9 for many public employees), we are seriously bereft.
Look at how the United States stacks up against the rest of the developed world in number of mandatory days off each year:
What is that all about, do you think?
How People Live in the Suburbs: A Vintage Illustrated Gem -- Brain Pickings
How People Live In The Suburbs was published as part of a Basic Understanding series of primary school supplements, also including How People Earn and Use Money, How Farms Help Us, and How Our Government Helps Us — all, sadly, out of print but delightful if you’re able to secure a copy.
Click the link above for more images. These are just cute and bizarre:
I'm still using Toggl to keep track of how much time I spend on creative work, connecting with people, and doing logistics. Read more about that process here.
But based on this article it would be interesting to do an audit of my time to see how much of my day is spent on Reactionary, Planning, Procedural, Insecurity, and Problem-solving tasks. Good tips here for how to bring things into a frutful balance for your situation.
The book itself is called Listening for Madeleine. From the BookForum article:
L’Engle’s faith was deeply untraditional. A mathematics professor who advised her on A Wrinkle in Time says the three beings who guide Meg on her interplanetary journey—Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which—were meant to be angels, but they could just as easily be mistaken for witches. And the novel’s dominant image of evil is an undefined blackness that casts its shadow across a wide band of the universe, including Earth. Camazotz, a planet controlled by the blackness, is not a hotbed of violence and depravity but a vision of perfect order. All the houses are identical, the children bounce their balls in perfect unison, and anyone who refuses to submit to the program is punished. “I am freedom from all responsibility,” the evil power croons to Meg. But she recognizes that this is a false consolation, a substitution of conformity for equality. “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!” she screams.
The fundamental lesson is that it’s OK—even desirable—to be a misfit.
Looking back, I'd say that A Wrinkle in Time formed my early theology as much as (or let's be honest, more than) the Bible.
Incidentally, I'm putting this post together on Thursday, and Caroline is in the chair next to me with the new graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time. I gave it to her for Christmas and she's already on her second reading of it.
A New Model of Empathy: The Rat -- Washington Post
I expect there is more of this going on in the animal kingdom than we want to admit:
In a simple experiment, researchers at the University of Chicago sought to find out whether a rat would release a fellow rat from an unpleasantly restrictive cage if it could. The answer was yes.
The free rat, occasionally hearing distress calls from its compatriot, learned to open the cage and did so with greater efficiency over time. It would release the other animal even if there wasn’t the payoff of a reunion with it. Astonishingly, if given access to a small hoard of chocolate chips, the free rat would usually save at least one treat for the captive — which is a lot to expect of a rat.
May your weekend be filled with a small hoard of chocolate chips... or whatever delights you.