Reading lately

The purposes and goals we create are phantom bodies — vestiges of and memorials to the people, places and things we stand to lose and strive to keep. Purpose indexes the world’s impermanence, namely our own. Sure, my grandfather’s T-Bird will function well as transportation once I’m finished. But, that goal only makes sense as an enduring reminder of the stories and memories of him. Purpose is about loss, or at least the circumvention of it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We create purposes to establish happy endings in a universe where endings are simply that — endings.

Dig the caption on this one (& props to my friend Judah for flagging it):

I did a dry run of my morning commute yesterday and resisted the urge to read on the train or even listen to the 8 million podcasts waiting for me on my phone. I just stared out the window on the way downtown and back. My romantic* fascination with becoming a suburb-to-city commuter is owed exclusively to John Cheever stories and Mad Men, none of which ended well. It is my lifelong habit to learn all the wrong lessons from dubious source materials. But my resistance to stacking stimuli atop stimuli did speak to this (from Raptitude.com): 

One evening last week, I was sitting on my front stoop waiting for a friend to come over. I brought a book out with me, but instead of reading I just sat there and let my senses take in the scene.

I didn’t look or listen for anything in particular, I just let the details of this particular moment in the neighborhood come to me: the quality of the air—heavy and warm, the incoming summer storm kind; birds; two couples having a conversation down the sidewalk; the clinking of dishes coming from inside the house to my right; distant hammering from a construction site somewhere in the blocks behind my house.

There was also a scent that I only recently learned has a name: petrichor. It’s the earthy scent of rain having just fallen on soil after a dry spell. You definitely know it. It was a big part of the overall flavor of the scene.

I engage this kind of receptive awareness often, particularly when I’m waiting for someone, and there’s something very satisfying about it. Every scene in our lives—whatever’s unfolding at any given time in a front yard, a living room, a doctor’s office, a grocery store—has its own unique tone and emotional signature, which you can notice if you’re not talking in your head, which we usually are.

My head never shuts the fuck up, but I'm honestly trying.

*I'm using "romantic" in the sense of "having no basis in fact : IMAGINARY" rather than Judith Krantz. (Do people still read Judith Krantz? Or is it all YA dystopia these days? I do not know the current landscape, I only want the Danielle Steel Palominos and Changes of yesteryear.)