- I’m a stay at home mom for the moment, and in this condition some things ring especially true. The beginning of Heidi Julavits The Folded Clock for one.
“Once, a day was long. It was bright and then it wasn’t, meals happened, and school happened, and sports practice, maybe, happened, and two days from this day there would be a test, or an English paper would be due, or there would be a party for which I’d been waiting, it would seem, for years. Days were ages. Love bloomed and died in a day. Rages flared and were forgotten and replaced by new rages, also forgotten. Within a day there were discernable hours, and clocks with hands that ticked out each new minute. I would think, Will this day never end? By nightfall, I’d feel like a war had been fought. I was wounded; sleep was not enough to heal me. Days would linger in my nerves, aftershocks registered on the electrical plain. Days made a physical impact. Days could hurt.”
- I bought Deb Perelman’s latest cookbook. I have re-read this paragraph from the introduction numerous times, awed by her ability to capture what cooking can mean:
“I like the way that when you make something new and awesome, the first thing you want to do is tell another friend about it so they can make it, too. I like the way following a recipe to the letter can feel like handing the reins over after a long day of having to make all the decisions, but also that pulling off a good meal when you least expected is the fastest way to feel triumphant, even if your day left you short of opportunities to. I like the way that when you sublimate your wanderlust in a dish – a cacio e pepe addiction you picked up in Rome or a Thai-ish salad with crispy shallots, lime, and fish sauce – it becomes a gateway, or an escape hatch, to so much more than dinner. I like the way that when you cook at home, you don’t actually have to compromise a thing; you get to make exactly what you want, exactly the way you want it, and then you get to invite all your favorite people over to pass the dish around. I like the way a great meal makes grouchy people ungrouchy or turns a thankless day filled with thankless stuff into a hilarious one.”
- Recently I’ve been puzzling over why some people don’t enjoy self-help subjects as much as I do. A friend helped me understand that self-knowledge can be painful. In an episode of Hidden Brain, the podcast host Shankar Vedantam, highlights and explains one experiment’s conclusion:
“Think of the deep irony (…); the folks who care the most about ethics might be most willing to turn a blind eye to unethical business practices because they know, if they found out about those practices, they would feel obliged to do something about it.” (This is 19 minutes into the podcast.)
So, say a person is raised with a strong moral code. Self-knowledge might be painful because of a preference for ambivalence.
“Clarity” writes Gretchen Rubin in Better Than Before, “requires us to acknowledge what we’re doing.”
Or, it might be painful because we cling to an identity. When the author gave up a habit she had of not owning a purse,
“being ‘the kind of woman who doesn’t own a purse’” the relinquishing “caused me a pang, even though it was such a tiny part of my identity.”
Understanding ourselves can also be painful because it forces us to confront our feelings of wanting to fit in by noticing how we are different. If a person has fragile self-esteem, this can be especially hard.
(About this, Gretchen Rubin writes, “surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve found that the more matter-of-fact I am about my habits, the more readily people accept them – and me.”)
However, avoiding self-knowledge can lead to self-deception. If I can recognize how it can be painful, I can learn to see the ways in which I deceive myself and I can be more understanding of myself and of others. In this respect, I appreciated this School of Life video.