Discover more from life: examined
New hobby; surprising benefits
okay, maybe I do need to get a life.
life: examined is an invitation to get curious—a collection of ideas, and thoughts about living a creative, intentional life—written from my perch in Portugal.
—> Thank you for your support
I'm peeking out from under the covers, horrified at the continued decline and fall of Rome, er, the U.S. If you’re reading this from there, are you okay? I can’t imagine you are (okay)—how could you be?
It's okay if you're not okay.
Not being okay is a reasonable response to the various crises, wars, and erosion of agency over one's body, and—well, I won't go on—you know the list.
I had planned to avoid specific political topics in this issue, but I can't resist sharing a few observations.
One point I need to make: Roe v. Wade wasn't just overturned. No, this didn’t just happen over the past few years—Roe v. Wade and control of others’ bodily autonomy is baked into the Constitution. The decision was a culmination of actions and attitudes of those determined to secure and maintain power. And let’s be honest, this isn’t about babies, is it?
The formula for white supremacy was laid out by the dudes who concocted the document, and this latest ruling aligns with structural inequalities found in every area of American life/government/economy.
Transparency is not the U.S. government’s middle name. Overturning Roe is a tired play from the ol’ fascist handbook: keep the populace on edge, at each other’s throats, and terrified; muddle the facts so any uprisings will have little effect.
It’s lazy to think that this hostile climate is wholly the fault of T*rump.
Yes, he’s a nasty symptom, a monstrous pustulating cyst—but he's not the root of the problem (how about those Supreme Court appointees, though…).
Of course, it's convenient to hold the flaccid bully solely responsible as it seemingly allows for a simple explanation, which in turn makes it easier to avoid interrogating the extensive issues inherent in the U.S. system.
The United States is a failed experiment.
That doesn't mean only bad things came from the union, or that failure isn't an opportunity for change, but to ignore the problems at this point is to keep one's head buried in the sand.
And to those who scoffed when I said the U.S. government was a militant authoritarian entity… well, bless your hearts.
We Are Not Elephants
Humans have short memories, but if you delve into history, the history of those left out of your school books, you'll understand that inequality and controlling bodies—women, slavery, indigenous people, animals—is omnipresent.
So much for no political rant.
I tried to avoid the topic du jour, but I couldn't. My ethics don't allow for silence in the face of injustice. However, the mention of the U.S. and its troubled past and present has a purpose for this essay.
During this disorienting time, let's talk about mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
Which brings me to the title and subject of this writing—my new hobby.
Prepare to be underwhelmed: I've taken up sweeping. I like to call it meditative or therapeutic sweeping.
Don't Google this as it's not a real thing—it's not an activity with any aim other than to clean debris from the floor. But, maybe the popularity of this essay will bring therapeutic sweeping to the masses, inspiring millions, or three or four people, to take up this hobby with me!
How can I call sweeping a hobby? Well, because I'm the one writing this, and for now it functions as one for me. Yes, I have other pursuits, but this is my latest favorite.
What's so Great About Sweeping?
Here's the deal: Two walls surrounding my patio are primarily stone. Stone, brick, crumbly sand, and other particles.
I sweep each morning; by the next day, sand and wall detritus have loosened their grip to fall to the tile floor. This was maddening, but I’ve since embraced this sloughing off of wall stuff, sweeping as many as three times a day (don't you dare say get a life…).
How did I become an enthusiast of this menial task?
It started a few weeks before the recent Supreme Court ruling. I'd listen to a radio news clip and begin to feel anxious. Just five minutes of news, and I start to feel antsy.
Mumbling and pacing about, feeling helpless and hopeless, I’d step out to the patio for fresh air and reach for the broom, determined to move that accumulation of sand into one neat pile. It's so satisfying!
It can get pretty philosophical, this sweeping hobby of mine.
I ponder: How old are these walls? These rocks have seen some things. If they could talk, who knows what stories they'd tell. Of course, it would be weird if they spoke; I'll keep you updated on any developments in that area.
Again, I ponder: What's up with the remains of that brick arch? Who will complete the disintegration process first—me or the walls?
I admire Zen Buddhist monks and nuns who tend to rock and gravel gardens with their sweeping, raking, and pattern-making. It's restful, I imagine, the doing of a job well done while knowing it won't last forever—just like everything.
Physical Tasks for Calm Thoughts
Along with good regular sleep, cleaning and physical exercise can help alleviate stress and anxiety. It's a control thing. The mini-Sahara I sweep up each day is one small thing I can control. I see tidy results with scant time and exertion. And it gets me out of my head, which is usually a noisy busy place.
I’m a stress-cleaner (or furniture rearrange-r) when life feels overwhelming. The broom is just another tool in my tame-the-world belt.
Does my zeal for sweeping mean I'll clean your patio?
Unlikely. But you can start this exciting hobby right away! It's low-cost, sustainable, and doesn't require fancy equipment. So what are you waiting for? :)
Whether or not sweeping sounds like it could be your new hobby, what are you doing to take care of yourself? What are you doing to help your community?
How do you endure the confluence of all things?
JUST ONE GOOD LINK (worth your time):
My friend Jennifer’s recent TEDx talk. Give a watch: Jennifer MacDonald: TEDx Asheville 2022, Play As A Survival Skill For Displaced Youth
FAVORITE PORTUGUESE TO ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE WEEK:
A list of products that you never knew you needed—but now you do!
sanitizing fat strip spray
210 mm Chinese concave emptying machine
stainless steel thermal grease
Mules on the skin
Marla Wenko Toilet Game
The hibernation veil has my name all over it!
Thank you Denny, Kevin, Sue for supporting life: examined through Buy Me a Coffee. Your generosity, in part, keeps me writing this letter to you each week(ish).
Whether a coffee, a comment, a like, or a share—I’m grateful to have you along for the ride.
Until next time —> stay curious, wear sunscreen, and thank you for reading life: examined