It’s too late in the year to start acting all shy. Hit Reply and let me know what you think.
What I’m reclaiming
Here’s a lesson I continue to learn: whereas pushing anger down makes you feel low (it literally depresses emotion), reclaiming anger boosts life force. Anger in the body is heat. If you don’t turn it against yourself or others, it can warm your heart and mobilize you to act. This starts with attention. Focus on the physical reality of anger. Not who you’re angry with or why but where anger has taken up residence in your body. Get to know this place.
What I’m saying to amuse myself
Rent your new personal growth practice before you own it
Men don’t give their kids child care. They father
Yesterday’s unclear request is tomorrow’s clenched jaw
Want to avoid being an asshole? Know the exact actions that make you one
What happens in (the) Vagus (nerve) never stays in Vagus
What I’m teaching our sons
On a rainy walk home from a brief outing, we discussed the difference between assertions and assessments. When you call your brother “short” or “stupid” (or “tall” or “smart”), I pointed out, that’s an assessment. You can’t prove it’s true, but you can ground it with evidence. An assessment with evidence is a grounded assessment.
“What if I provide evidence he is stupid?” the older one asked. That, I replied, would be a grounded, but unkind, assessment. Why not simply say he hasn’t learned Calculus. That would be an assertion—in this case, a true one.
“What would it be,” he responded, “if I told you that I just said he was stupid.” Another true assertion, of course.
At this point, I said that even I was confused. This, I couldn’t resist pointing out, is a declaration, a speech act that plays by yet another set of rules.
“Then I declare independence,” the younger son said. I reminded him that declarations gain power from the authority of the person making them. At age eight, he lacked the necessary authority. Although he didn’t like this, he accepted it. Then we walked up the stairs and out of the rain.
What I’m reading
Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary by Timothy Snyder. I’ve now read seven books by this Yale historian. Our Malady is the most personal. It is about how rage and empathy sustained him through a near fatal bout of sepsis almost exactly one year ago, how distracted and mistake-prone physicians are a feature, not bug, of the American healthcare system, how human freedom depends on a robust social safety net, and how the death of local reporting increased deaths from opioid and Covid. We are reminded that a “white” man’s life can literally hinge on whether strangers trust the competence and sincerity of an African American woman. Here, as in his other books, Snyder writes lucid prose and illuminates unseen connections.
What I’m learning about “cultural appropriation”
“We should resist using the term “cultural appropriation” as an indictment. All cultural practices and objects are mobile; they like to spread, and almost all are themselves creations of intermixture…whatever your origins…you [can] enter deeply into other forms of life, but you [have] to put in the work…This project can start with the recognition that culture is messy and muddled, not pristine and pure. That it has no essence is what makes us free.”
—Kwame Anthony Appiah, from The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity