A short history of nearly everything #Fridayreads

Photo on 2015-03-13 at 10.45 AM #4

First of all, I have to tell you that I’m still sick! (This is because, when I’m sick, I have to tell everyone! It’s a sickness in and of itself.) Here’s where I’m hanging out (see photo above): on the couch by the fire, with crocheted blanket, tea, lozenges, laptop, book, cellphone, and dogs. The dogs look like they’re in heaven. That’s nice, dogs. Happy snoring to you. I, however, am remembering how grumpy being sick makes me. Which is very. I also tend to take a melodramatic outlook, announcing at intervals how awful I feel, how lazy I feel, how pitiful I feel, and generally presenting as a less-than-lovely human specimen. My family puts up with it rather kindly, I must say, even if their reaction is to basically ignore my general pitifulness. Or gently mock me for it. Thanks, family. I mean that sincerely.

So I finally finished reading A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson, which is a book about scientific discoveries (and the scientists who laboured, sometimes futilely, to discover verifiable facts about our planet, our environment, the origins of life on Earth, the chemical makeup of the universe, etc.). Excellent book, easy to read, lots of great stories, plus I felt like I was getting reacquainted with the teenaged self who really wanted to study biology and chemistry in university, if only those subjects could have been coordinated with an arts degree. (I couldn’t figure out how to do it.)

Anyway.

I’ve been using the word “anyway” a lot these past few days, as a handy segue. I think it indicates how little energy I have to spare. My throat is so sore, people!

Anyway …

Bill Bryson’s book ends with a devastatingly sad chapter, titled “Goodbye,” detailing the efficiently destructive ruin that homo sapiens have inflicted on other species who come into contact with us. We seem to be unique in our ruthlessness, and pointless destruction. When we show up, species vanish. So much of what makes us different from all of the other species of life on Earth — our consciousness that allows us to plan and remember and create communities and construct stories and share information and move easily across vast distances — is also what makes us a force deadlier than any other species that has ever existed. It’s like we were made to destroy. Looking at humans from this perspective is deeply sad. To counter my sadness, I think of Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche communities, on the the front page of Wednesday’s Globe and Mail, saying, “We are in a world that is rather terrifying. People close ranks and hide behind their factions. There is great insecurity. … [And yet] it is possible for humans to live together as long as you let down the walls that separate you.”

Yes. I’m part of this species, of course. We all are. We’ve got this little window of time here on Earth to share with those around us. How to be more open, more vulnerable? How to do no harm?

Anyway.

I’m putting this couch-time time to good use! Reading a lot. Resting. Meditating (although this morning’s session turned into napping — dreaming). Writing a bit too. It’s not like I can’t do my job while lying on this couch. Well, this part of my job. This other part of my job, I can’t do while lying on the couch. See below.

IMG_20150313_122645_edit.jpg

terrible photo taken from current position on couch, using cellphone, which explains terribleness

This is just the first basket of two — clean laundry! — that look like this. I carried this one up to the dining-room table this morning in hopes that a) I would feel inspired to fold it and/or b) kids would arrive home from school and feel inspired to fold it. LOL. No, seriously. Do you think I can guilt them into folding it? It’s probably my parental duty to try. I realize that if I were a better parent, my children would already be trained to fold laundry themselves. Somehow, this hasn’t been the kind of parent I’ve turned out to be. Okay. I’m okay with it, actually. I can’t seem to fight against the tide of what matters to me, and what doesn’t.

Anyway.

Weekend! March break! Wishing all of you, all of us, everyone: Health!

xo, Carrie

PS After posting, I lay down and listened to a program that ran on Ideas this past fall, called “How To Do Ordinary Things.” You can hear Jean Vanier and others who work/live in L’Arche communities talk about freedom from fear, and being vulnerable not just in body (which I’m aware of right now), but also in relationships. Here’s a quote I wrote down while listening:

“Who will love me in my brokenness? …

To love someone is not to do things for people but to reveal to people who they are.” — Jean Vanier.

Seekers and finders: Karl Ove Knausgaard's "My Saga"
Dear diary

3 Comments

  1. Carrie, I’ve had The Cold too so I send total empathy your way. I ran this morning for the first time in a week (because I am a wimp). Our kids did their own laundry from about age 4. No idea if they ever folded it. It was not from great parenting skills but pure laziness on our part.

    Reply
    • Surprise, surprise, no one was inspired by the over-piled laundry basket on the table. Yesterday, finally, Kevin folded the laundry in that basket, and made the kids deliver items to their own drawers/rooms/who knows where. I found some things on the stairs. This morning, I carried up the second overflowing basket, so it’s almost like yesterday never happened.

      Your laundry/kids story is truly inspiring, Chris. Maybe I should focus less on the folding, more on the doing …

      Reply
  2. So happy about the Jean Vanier award. I listened to the whole Ideas program a few months ago while cooking dinner, over a week, and I left feeling inspired about the possiblities of compassion in the middle of ordinary life to change the world. Feel better!

    Reply

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