Furry Friend

So. I’ve started a practice of “cataloging delights” as I make my way through Ross Gay’s marvelous collection of short essays (“essayettes”), The Book of Delights. I recommend this book, this practice, and the author’s interview on the On Being podcast. It is sweet medicine for the turmoil of our times. In the book, Gay describes how, a few years ago, he decided to write daily essays about “something delightful.” He’d write them every day for a year, starting and ending on his birthday. He’d write them quickly and by hand. What he found was that writing about his delights, and sharing them with others, made them grow.

What I love about Gay’s delights, beyond the wonderful, conversational style in which they’re presented, is that they mingle with his sorrows:

It astonishes me sometimes – no, often – how every person I get to know – everyone, regardless of everything, by which I mean everything – lives with some profound personal sorrow.

A moment of physical affection on an airplane leads to a commentary on racism. And so on, as though recognizing the sorrow amplifies the delight. The interaction between our sorrow and our delight is what Gay is getting at, which reminds me of yesterday’s delight, rereading Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye, which examines the relationship between the two “deepest things inside” of us: sorrow and kindness. Maybe I’ll transcribe that delight here, too.

Anyway, if you do read the book, forgive me if my ramblings here mimic Gay’s prose at times. I had just been reading the book last night, falling deeply in love with his witty, lovingly self-deprecating, verbose stream of consciousness. And as a writer, I suppose I’m still in that impressionable phase of absorbing and remixing as I eke out my own voice. But these words are true, straight from my journal to this screen. On to today’s delight!

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2019: A Year of Change

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This morning, I woke up late, drank a cup of coffee, and prepared my 2020 journal. Admittedly, I’d cracked into it a few days early after running out of space in my previous notebook. A post from a friend made me return to my intentions and aspirations for my 34th year (2019) and hours later, I’m at the head of our dining room table with my scrawlings laid out in front of me, reflecting on the past year. My husband is in the living room, reading old articles he wrote for our college town’s hockey team and undoubtedly marveling at the progress he’s made in the area of sports journalism since the beginning of the decade.

2019 brought a lot of personal change. I quit my office job to pursue my passions. Thanks to a supportive life partner who earns enough to float us during this stage of experimentation, I began to reorient my life toward creative, artistic work. I took a big leap professionally, and so far, it’s working out (albeit slowly). I grappled with imposter syndrome, self-doubt, and the necessity of personal discipline and practice. I made new friends and chosen family, and we welcomed our first family member to visit us in Korea.

In 2019, I rediscovered witchcraft and spellwork, things I hadn’t considered much since I first read The Spiral Dance as a college freshman in 2003, sitting outside with my pagan roommate as she cast a spell to let go of an ex. In truth, I’ve been a hedge witch for some time, slowly opening my heart to plant medicine, to my inner voice, and to my lineage. I come from a line of gardeners and artists (painters, woodcrafters, potters), from the Irish and the pre-Christian Celts of Cisalpine Gaul. This year, I opened to my lineage, though I’ve barely dipped a toe into that great river of time.

I discovered the Strange Magic podcast and a number of beautiful books on spellwork and herbs. I hosted a Mabon celebration for some friends and we made magical teas and fire cider. We practiced divination and radical sharing with tarot cards. I was nervous; it was my first time sharing these practices with others. I started writing my own incantations and spells and gave two tarot readings to others, something I was terrified to do. I’ve begun to carve out a magical life.

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