July 6, 2018

Fireflies in the garden

There are fireflies in our backyard. I notice them most recently during one of my nightswims and I am transfixed by the flickering of their lights as they make their way through the garden, through the bushes, through the grass.

Fireflies are magical; they emit pulses of light, little beacons of presence, letting their friends and potential mates know that they are close, that they are ready to meet. Some of lights flicker, some pulse, some swoop through the air in mesmerizing shapes. No matter what shape they take, the flashing lights are captivating.

Unlike stars, who remain fixed in the sky as I float in the pool in the middle of the night, the lights of the fireflies are fleeting, transient. They are little glimpses of brightness, unexpected delights in the still darkness. They are magical in the truest sense: we know not when they will come, and when they do arrive, they disappear just as quickly.

The fireflies in our backyard will not stay for long. They have been hanging around for a few weeks, but they will disappear in a few months to prepare for the winter. For now, I cherish their delightful flashes, surprising me whenever they appear. Soon, the flickering will stop, and it will be fall again; until then, I enjoy the magic of the season.

Here come the real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies
That, though they never equal stars in size
(And they were never really stars at heart),
Achieve at times a very starlike start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

Fireflies in the Garden, Robert Frost

A few things I have written over the past two weeks that you may have missed:

A few things to read and explore:

This piece on writing clearly by Francine Prose is long but phenomenal, and contains many nuggets of wisdom like this one:

Everything we write is, in a sense, translated from another language, from the chatter we hear inside our head, translated from that interior babble (more or less comprehensible to us) into (what we hope will be) the clearer, more articulate language on the page.

I was working in London during Wimbledon 2008, and while I couldn’t afford tickets to any of the matches, I did find a local pub where I would watch many matches on the big screen surrounded by other tennis fans. The final between Nafal and Federer was one of the greatest matches I have ever seen, and I got to watch it with hundreds of strangers who became quick friends over the five hours. This incredible oral history of the match over on the BBC helped me relive that very special day, that very special match.

When I was young, in religious education class, we were taught that there were millions of Muslims in China, practicing in secrecy. We were never taught, however, of the repression and human rights abuses happening to Muslims in the country every day. This is a crisis; I’m surprised more people aren’t taking about it right now.

I’ve never eaten a restaurant with one of these iPad ordering/rating systems before, but it looks like the technology—like many new technologies in the service industry—is bad for people who live with low income, and especially for women.

I’ve lost a bit of my wanderlust—mostly for international travel, as I’ve maintained a curiosity for exploring the city and region around me—as I’ve grown older, so this thoughtfully articulated case against traveling was a fascinating thing to read. I’m not sure how much it will change how and how often we travel, but it will make us think twice.

I’m hopelessly addicted to, and enamored with, Queer Eye. This interview with the cast made me so happy.

Did you know that Toni Morrison, Pablo Neruda, and Anne Rice are all pen names? I’m always fascinated by why people choose to use different names for their art.

You may be one of the people who think I use too many exclamation points in my messages and emails. I probably do, but at least there’s a linguistic reason for my exclamation point inflation.

Roxane Gay is sharing her experience of having gastric bypass surgery; I admire her strength and am fascinated by her journey.

The new black Gothic aesthetic functions in popular black art as a tool for representing black life on its own terrorized terms.

We all miss Barack Obama, but I also understand that he needs to disappear from public and political life for a little while. Eight years is a long time to always be in the spotlight.

Important words from Rep. John Lewis:

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.

Time to get into some good trouble.

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