The New Leaf #25: Help/Thanks
Hi, and welcome to the twenty-fifth instalment of The New Leaf, an informal and infrequent email bulletin with ... whatever this is.
Help [by Lyndsay Rush]
The Matron Saint Anne Lamott taught me
that the three essential prayers are
If you’re feeling weird lately
it’s probably because we’ve spent nearly three years
stuck on that first one
Hi, it's been a while! This newsletter used to be where I gathered the links to my journalism along with some thoughts, but I've been on hiatus from writing a year or so - "stuck on that first one", as it were. The reasons are all the obvious ones, plus a few which are personal to me, and I just didn't feel like I had anything to say. So I decided to say nothing for a while.
I was passing through Cambridgeshire recently and decided to stop at Grantchester Meadows, where the River Cam passes through willowy literary surroundings - Lord Byron and Virginia Woolf swam here, and more recently Roger Deakin, author of the swimming opus "Waterlog". It was mid November with the customary slate-coloured skies, meaning it was cold on land and even colder in the water. Luke, huddled in his raincoat, thought I was mad and it was hard to disagree, Of course I didn't *want* to get in, but of course, I did it anyway. You know when you have to do something, because now it's a dare? I changed under a tree before edging myself into the river, kicking off with a gasp as the rain hit the silty grey water. Swimming a slow breast stroke I focused on steadying my breathing and on the light reflecting on the water - it always sparkles from that perspective.
This is basically what I've been doing during my fallow period: swimming, walking and reading books. I worked for a copywriting agency and spent time in the city, enjoying doing nice and normal things. Most of all, I was learning to trust that time was something that belonged to me again - that time wasn't something to endure, but something that I could use and enjoy. I worried about my writing drought but tried not to, because I needed to trust that a fallow period can be just as necessary as a creative time - they are two sides of the same coin. At least that's what I was hoping, as I waited.
I was going to say that things will change even if you do nothing, but that's not completely true: things only really change when you change them. But either way, this autumn, something incredible happened: I started getting bored. At last, enough time seems to have passed for boredom to set in, meaning I actually *want* to write again. I'm not sure what it will look like exactly, but I'm starting to feel like myself again. Not the same as before, but as something new. I cannot tell you just how happy I am to be here.
Some things I've been enjoying lately.
"Four thousand weeks - Time management for mortals." We can't do everything, and only when we accept this can we actually get around to the things we really want to do. I really enjoyed this book and have been thinking about it a lot. [Oliver Burkeman]
I made this chana masala-lite dish for the first time recently and the internet legends about "the stew" are true. Here's Alison Roman's spiced chickpea stew with coconut and turmeric - I halved the coconut and recommend you do the same unless you want soup. I also got fresh turmeric for this and experienced something wonderful.
I discovered Pamela Adlon's TV series "Better Things" and it puts things to screen I've only ever heard spoken in private before. I adored it. [Available on BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Disney+]
Fiona Apple, singing The Whole of the Moon.
“I don’t actually think we are equipped, physiologically or mentally, to be delivered catastrophic and confusing news and pictures, 24/7. We are analog creatures in a digital world." What might news designed for 21st century humans look like? As a person who's stopped following the daily news, I read this with great interest - we need a new model for delivering information. [Amanda Ripley, The Washington Post]
For more article recommendations, here are my most recent Reading Lists.
If you want to say hi, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or I'm on Instagram at @jessicafurseth.
Thank you, ever so much, for reading x