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July 2020

Post image for Don’t Try, Intend

At some point in my house’s 112-year history, someone installed thick, white, nine-inch high baseboards that mostly act as highly visible shelves for dirt.

Whenever I try to clean these baseboards, I quickly get annoyed and discouraged. There are seemingly miles of them, running in and out of closets, behind furniture, and underneath power cords and dangling spider plants.

Unlike sweeping, vacuuming, or dishwashing, there’s no stable posture from which to clean baseboards. It’s always an act of ongoing contortion. Each obstacle interrupts the flow of what is already an awkward task.

The other day, however, I cleaned my office, including its baseboards, with none of the usual struggle. The difference was that this time I cleaned them without the entering the psychological state of trying to clean them. I skipped the whole idea of trying.

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Post image for One Way to Stay Centered in a Divided World

The eventful month of June 2020 seemed like the right time to add a new daily exercise to my mental health regimen: read an opinion piece that makes me uncomfortable.

I had noticed that in my online surfing, I was hunting for opinions with certain specific qualities. I would scan past headlines that struck me as too fawning, too reactive, too woke, or too conservative, until I found one that looked like it was “worth my time,” or “had something to say.”

It soon became clear that I was looking for the most palatable opinions, which of course are my own opinions.

Ideally, I would find my views expressed by a professional columnist with a kind of cutting wit I would like to have. When I found a piece that met these narrow standards, I would read, enjoy, and share it, then repeat the process.

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