I had the privilege of going to SXSW in Austin with my team this past week.
The presentations were thought-provoking and the city was teeming with life, every street brimming with interesting people and the shimmering, mechanical sound of grackles. We ate a ton of great food; soaked up the 80-degree weather; walked for miles and miles every day; admired the live oaks and the garbage-choked waterways. But my favorite moments were with my colleagues, gathering at our rental house each evening to make dinner together and talk for hours and hours. They are a wise, sweet, and thoughtful bunch, and I am honored to have shared so much time with them.
Getting to work with people you admire—and genuinely enjoy—shouldn’t be underestimated.
We’re beginning to unlock a new level of family life as Moses and Felix have started to actually play with one another. Rather than mere tolerance, we’re now at a stage of true engagement.
Moses is perpetually inviting Felix to play, and I swear that Felix understands everything Moses says to him perfectly, in their own private, babbling language.
We’ve started leaving them to their own devices in the basement or in the garden, and so far, no one has died. It has been freeing, to say the least. Guion and I worked for almost two hours in the garden yesterday while the boys puttered around and occupied themselves, sometimes separately, sometimes together. We’d hear Moses yell, “FELIX LOOK AT ME! LOOK FELIX!” from some far corner of the yard and we’d shrug, trusting that they’d keep each other both busy and alive.
“Do you ever think you read too much?” Zack asked me, as we were driving back home at midnight, having missed our connecting flight. The question came after I’d mentioned what I’d learned from the small book and six articles I’d finished on the prior flight.
I’ll confess that it’s a thought I’ve never had in my whole reading life; books have always felt to me like water and air, essential elements for living.
The mere question was shocking to me. Is such a thing even possible? But I heard in it a valuable critique: I read so much, and at the cost of what else? I could be listening to other people, learning how to cook, meditating, or evaluating my own thinking instead. Further, I think the question was intended to suggest that it’s not merely what other activity could fill the time but what I plan to do with all of these words I’ve read. Do I plan to hoard them, in some locked internal chamber, or do I hope they will spill out and flower, modifying my thinking or my being? The temptation to be quiet and choose the former remains strong within me. I appreciate being asked, and I hope I will increasingly pursue the latter fruiting path.
I saw a woman walking a beautiful young German shepherd on our street, and I couldn’t resist calling out to her and complimenting her dog. (I look at dogs on the street like some men look at little cars or women’s legs: with total interest and unblinking longing. I sense dogs coming before I even see them; I can’t look away.)
We chatted for a bit, and I shared that we had also had many shepherds, mentioning that they could be a handful. She looked at me with wide eyes, while her antsy pup was wrapping its long lead around her legs, and said, “I raised four children, but I don’t think that was nearly as hard as raising this dog!”
I felt for her; sheps are not for the faint of heart. I will always love them, but I don’t think we’ll ever have another one.
The Living Mountain, Nan Shepherd
The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton
That Old Country Music, Kevin Barry
The Making of a Manager, Julie Zhuo
Ducks, Kate Beaton
Lovely catch up on life. I was thinking of you today when I read this Washington Post article https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/03/19/mary-louise-kelly-hearing-loss/
I thought of your experience and thought you might find it of interest. Happy Spring! We made it….well we will have in little over 12 hours… 👏🏼
I am so fascinated by how much you are able to read, and I have appreciated the book rec's over the years, so thank you! Also, HOW do you read so much? I would love to know more about your reading routine. Do you always have reading material with you? Do you save articles to read later? Are you a fast reader? Do you have times throughout the day devoted to reading? Is it part of your job? Do you read while doing other things, like making dinner? I feel like a 4th grader asking these questions but I honestly would love to know!