(Steller)

On Wondering

(Journal)
Published – 29.04.2020
(Writing)

Good morning, my friends. Are you doing okay today? Are you doing okay this week? I’m back out on my balcony, watching some small things happen around me. Over to my left, there is a family that includes a small child sitting on their balcony eating breakfast. They are making the most of things! It’s weird to not have any grass, probably. Especially if you’re a kid and need to run around a bit. Straight ahead, a crane is moving things up and down, quickly, efficiently. Underneath, on the street, cars and buses and trucks zoom by. Where are they going? Who are they going to? It’s a little noisy, but it’s mostly okay. Pleasant, even. I’m still listening to The Ramones a bit but right now, I have NPR on. The talking is excellent; I can come in and out of it haphazardly and still learn something or smile a little at an anecdote. What are you listening to? Perhaps you’ll tell me by return letter. I’ve cut my hair in the bathroom sink in a mildly uninspiring way - it looks not great but also not terrible. It is good for my ego, possibly, to look in the mirror and think, well, it could be better and it could be worse, and then just get on with the day.

From Thom Wong’s newsletter 100%:

“We didn’t need a global pandemic to know doctors and nurses are important, and bus drivers and shopkeepers and the people who deliver the mail and clean the streets and everyone who makes our lives possible.
We didn’t need a global pandemic to check in on friends and loved ones.
We didn’t need a global pandemic to take up baking, understand the power of yeast, flour, water, and salt, perform the sacred rites, whisper the magic spell, “Don’t you fucking fall down.””

Mary Ruefle on wondering:

“I would rather wonder than know. It makes it more and more difficult to be alive on earth in these times, when your inclination is to wonder rather than to know.
I suppose the example that comes to mind is: it used to be if you were having dinner with people and someone said, “Who’s the fastest animal on earth?” An amazing conversation would ensue. And now someone pops their phone out and looks up the answer. And it breaks my heart….”

Jarett Kobek on the solution to life, from an interview with Chelsea Hodson in Literary Review:

“The solution to life has been known since the ancient Greeks. There’s never been a smarter person than Epicurus, whose philosophy can be distilled, basically, to the idea that we should try and find five people it doesn’t make us sick to be around and live a life free of worry while talking to these friends. There’s other stuff in there, too, but the point is that culture will not save you. It never has. It never will. The only thing you can do is make friends and keep them for as long as possible. If there’s a sub-rosa message in I Hate the Internet, that’d be it. Only your friends will get you through life, so dick them about as little as possible.”

Brad Aaron Modlin’s poem What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade, featured on the Poetry Unbound podcast:

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do
something else—

something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person

add up to something.

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