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August 2020

Post image for You Can Get There From Here

Kindergarten was only a half-day, so I spent a lot of that year at a babysitter’s house. She had two children, both older than me. One day, the son had a big white cast covered in signatures, and explained that he had broken his arm.

At the time I thought having a broken arm meant it had been broken off, like a tree branch. Casts held the arm in place while it grew back together.

I asked how much it hurt.

“A lot.

“Did you cry?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Does it hurt now?”

“No, it’s just itchy.”

“When did it stop hurting?”

“I don’t remember.”

The sequence of events implied by his account blew my little mind. This guy fell off a jungle gym, looked around, and discovered his broken-off arm lying on the ground next to him. Then an ambulance came, and a team of doctors stuck it back on and encased it in plaster. It must have been a day of the purest pain and sadness, yet at some apparently forgettable moment, the horror went away, and now he’s joking around and it’s a normal day again.

I was then, and am still, fascinated by the way in which two incompatible experiences are still connected by time. You could be sad and despairing on a Monday morning, and be laughing that afternoon. In a matter of hours, the awfulness – real as it was – has somehow evaporated and been replaced by an entirely different experience.

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Post image for The Myth of Grit and Determination

Ordering takeout is an act of community support, the pleasure-seeking part of my brain has been telling me.

Every time I deny the impulse to order pizza, this brain-region argues, a local restaurant comes closer to insolvency.

The other day I was chatting with a few friends, and it turned out each of us had gained a non-negligible number of pounds over the past four months.  

“It’s happening to a lot of people,” one friend said. “They’re calling it the ‘Covid Nineteen.’”

It’s only twelve for me, but the process is still unfolding.

Takeout isn’t the sole culprit, of course. It’s hard to remain as active these days. Fewer grocery sorties means less fresh produce in the diet. Also, general anxiety and uncertainty have a way of sending us wandering to the fridge, or worse.

I reached my enough-is-enough moment when I was notified that I’ve earned a free pizza from accumulating enough loyalty points. My plan is to halt the Covid Nineteen while it’s still a Covid Twelve, and give every bit of it back to nature.

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