Status Update for July 2021

Long time, no write. I got the idea for doing monthly status updates from a couple of programmers I follow: Drew Devault and Simon Ser. While their’s focus on mostly their work, I’m expecting mine to to be a more varied snapshot of my life.

The last few months have been strangely hectic. I got vaccinated in late April/early May, moved in early June, and spent most of the month settling into life in my new apartment, living on my own for the first time in a couple of years. Things in my corner of the world mostly went back to normal for a while, though with the delta variant causing local COVID cases to be on the upswing, those days may be numbered. Thankfully, the vaccines seem to be working. But still, the weather is (sometimes) nice and I would like to enjoy that while I can.

Just like everywhere else in the world, climate change has come to New England. We had a week of very hot weather, then a couple weeks of continuously cloudy skies and lots of rain, and then as things were starting to improve, we got a few days of haze, I suspect from the fires on the west coast. All that being said, we’re doing much better than some parts of the world, and there have been a number of really nice days: warm, but not hot, bright blue skies with generous helpings of mostly white clouds.

This reminds me that it really is the small things in life that matter most, like a good tuna sandwich, or earbuds that pause whatever is playing when you take one of them out of your ear. I suspect this will be especially true as the world continues in a state of political, socio-economic, and environmental upheaval.

I’ve been noticing that whenever I feel down, blocked, uncertain, or confused, I come back to the same things to help me feel grounded and stable: a morning routine, a solid gym workout, a day’s work in a beautiful environment (like the Boston Athenaeum), a couple pieces from my favorite authors where I notice something new every time I read them. Maybe I’m just getting old, and ossifying around the same things, or maybe these things resonate with core parts of my psyche. In any case, I regularly come back to Craig Mod’s interview in Offscreen Magazine. All of it is worth reading, especially the part about respect for life itself:

So I ask myself regularly: Am I maximizing this so-called respect for my being alive or not? Does my work pay dividends in making me more empathetic, more curious, kinder, smarter? And the best way I’ve found to say ‘yes’ to this somewhat ridiculous question is to ask if the work, my day to day, moves my heart.

In the end I’ve found that understanding how you define respect for life itself is a really good organizing function for thinking about how to live, how to spend your days.

Also like Mr. Mod, getting thoughts out of my head and into words is an important way in which I process my experience of the world. In particular, it is very easy for me to get stuck in my own head for an extended period of time, which is no good for me, or the people around me. Unfortunately, I’ve been doing far too little of this for the last few years, and I fear my life has been dimmed as a consequence. So I’m trying again to make this a regular practice. I will probably fail at this (again), but as my meditation practice has taught me, much of life is simply getting up and trying again.

Part of my growing reluctance to write online is that WordPress, that powers this blog, is becoming increasingly unsuitable. It’s become more focused on being a content management platform rather than a writing tool, evidenced by the “write” button being shoved up into the right hand corner. I have mixed feelings about the block editor. While my own writing tool is far from ready for production, I’ve been looking into as an alternative, any may start at least mirroring some posts there. There’s a 14-day trial of the Pro version which seems suitable for my needs.

That’s all folks! This month has honestly been mostly devoted to resting, settling into a new environment, and enjoying the weather when possible. Next month should be a more typically productive month.

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