This has been a productive summer, in its own sort of way.
I haven’t been writing much here, even letting my notes go neglected because I’ve been active in that strange world without screens.
On a personal level, I’ve closed a lot of open loops or gestalts, some of them lingering for years. I’ve come to a place of equipoise that I haven’t felt in years.
Some highlights I can share publicly:
- 🇺🇦 This is the first time since the war began that life actually feels normal in the sense that I’ve accepted there’s no going back to Kyiv of 2021, and that the here and now in Amsterdam is my future. And I’m happy about that.
- ✋📱 Poor management at the two social networks I used, Twitter and Reddit, made giving them up for good much easier than anticipated. My life is much calmer, and my experiments in reading less, but more focused and higher quality news are paying off.1
- 🚫🍺 I’ve passed the one year mark of no alcohol. My only regret was not stopping sooner, but I suppose I needed the right time, place, and frame of mind for it to click.
- The Buddhist group I practice with has really clicked for me. After years of trying to build a practice independently around infrequent retreats, it’s refreshing and invigorating to be part of a larger tradition with a community.
- 🏡 The new house actually feels like home now. The stress of moving, decorating, furniture-ing, figuring out new routines has settled.
- ☀️😢 Forget the winter blues, for some reason the early summer always gets me down. I’ve passed that hurdle and am looking forward to some nice vacations ahead and a nice coast to the end of the year.
And so what have I doing? Reading! The book Wayfinding has had a huge impact on my and tied together a lot of loose threads I’ve been thinking about for awhile.
Some posts I’ve written about it:
- Not Knowing What We Don’t Know
- Magnetism and animals
- Oral history
This has inspired a spate of reading about anthropology, particularly on the Thai/Lao/Khmer periphery and some more academic critiques of “modernist” strands of Buddhist meditation. In much the same way that modern, European navigation techniques have so displaced traditional methods of wayfinding to make them seem mythological, earlier meditation traditions have been routed. And when these traditions die out, there’s often no textual record preserving them, largely because these traditions tend to believe that meditation can only be passed from teacher to student through direct instruction.
Navigation and meditation are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s staggering to think of how much knowledge we’ve lost and don’t even know we lost it. It challenges the rationalist, progress paradigm.
And when I’m not reading about 19th-century monks in Thailand, I’ve been working my way through the Dune series (on book 3) and Stormlight Archives (book 2), and of course getting reading for Ahsoka meant that I needed to watch all of Rebels and most of Clone Wars again, right?
Incidentally, the raised hand ✋ symbolizes mindfulness in Buddhist art and not stop, so ✋📱 is a bicultural reference: a mindful relationship to my phone or the reality of just needing to stop using it so much. ↩