nice is quietly loud


Maybe it’s not real “niceness” if you’re “bragging” about or even mentioning doing positive things, but my point is not to draw attention to my own actions. (I feel I have to balance out my impatience and negativity somehow.)

Mostly I wanted to highlight that it costs nothing to quietly compliment people. Whether it’s the dude in the elevator with a really stunning coat, or the lady in the airport wearing a gorgeous sweater but looking dissatisfied with everything, or the guy reading a really good book… what does it cost to break the silence (as much as I hate noise) to tell them that that they look fabulous and alive in the color they happen to be wearing, that they have a superb sense of style, or have great taste in books?

Sure, the person might not respond well. Breaking the silence and distance bubble and saying something personal is not the norm (depending on where you live, of course). But usually the person lights up and smiles and seems to appreciate that someone noticed. I wish the world were more like that all the time.


a louder world


Are we living in a world that is louder than ever? There are the standard sources of noise pollution, but today when searching for a quiet space I realized just how loud the world, and everyone in it, is. So much coughing (people are coughing so freely and casually now as though we didn’t just come through a pandemic), the grating sound of scraping bowls and plates, louder-than-needed phone ring tones, people talking (yelling) in public when having their mobile conversations, people watching videos and listening to music without headphones so we all have to hear. And so many other examples that hit me with such sensory overload today that it has been virtually unbearable. It doesn’t seem like people are remotely aware of the sound they make as they trundle and thunder noisily through the world around them.


con man


It’s funny that even when the catalyst for change is a fly-by-night con man, the impetus for change and fire it lights under you is real.

It is like being shaken awake, all excuses discarded in the face of needing to be sensible, you face everything you had avoided with urgency. It is easy to wander through life, even when you are unaware of doing so.

The lack of spontaneity sometimes feels like a collection of lost opportunities. But in fact reality delivers grace and acceptance. Foolish ideas like, “Maybe it will be different this time” or “Perhaps my caution is overkill” or “Maybe I will be surprised by…”, are seductive but misplaced. And not falling prey to them, you end up the stronger.

It takes distance to feel the relief, though, of not being taken in.

how to live


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

I saw these sentences written somewhere. I don’t live as though I might die tomorrow (trying and failing to be more spontaneous), but I learn and experience – in a solitary way – constantly. There is no time that I am not trying to inject some kind of information.

A recent acquaintance, despite a surface-level tenor and brevity, gave me pause for in-depth self-reflection. There have been some rough things in my life that I’ve attempted to bury. The acquaintance, by launching into rapid-fire, almost interrogation-style questioning, prompted a lot of buried feelings to bubble up.

He didn’t really seem to care about the answers to these questions (which also makes me realize once more the value of active listening, being heard, detail and memory – and how much I do not relate to people who don’t care about these things). But I understood suddenly that I have to start to confront and deal with more of these rough things.

I also came to understand more acutely than ever what a serious person I am. That is not to say I don’t have fun, laugh, joke or have a sense of humor. It’s just that I am not the kind of person who feels the need to disconnect from heavy subjects or depressing ideas or concepts to decompress. In fact I seek out the heavier things purposely and immerse myself in them. I do not want to be distracted or distant from the inevitable pain of life.

It takes all kinds, of course, but I am going to spend my spare time studying Hungarian, reading about business psychology, devouring books about algae (and never shutting up about them afterwards), doing demanding degree programs that have almost no professional application whatsoever, and watching thought-provoking and often sad films and series in a host of other languages. I mean, I once longed to see a film about nomadic people trying to get one of their camels to lactate and accept its baby. I whined about missing its theatrical run for months before finally getting to see it.

My tastes are difficult to share and, for many, insufferable. I know this is not going to be for everyone – people are, for the most part, never going to share my unusual interests. But maybe I am finally accepting on a more finite level that they don’t have to – and I don’t have to share theirs.




Sandra Lim

Spring comes forward as a late-winter confection, and I cannot decide if it advances a philosophy of meekness or daring.

This year’s snowdrops: is it that they are spare, and have a slightly fraught lucidity, or are they proof that pain, too, can be ornate?

Even a propped skull is human nature. And its humor is monstrous, rich with an existence that owes nothing to anyone.

Fat little pearls against the ice, battering softly, try even fewer qualities—

To say that you love someone or something to death is to hover around the draw of irrevocability.

More faith is asked of us, a trained imagination against the ice-white.


Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash



Sunflowers in the Median

Natalie Homer

Everything is a union of one kind or another.
Foothills know this. Highways too.

In the median—wild sunflowers for miles.
Cheerful, unassuming. They are no one’s bouquet.

My dad and I try very hard to seem at ease
with each other. We comment on the bison

stampeding across the casino’s electric sign.
Pixilated, their clouded breath leads them

again and again over an imagined prairie.
Later I will make this drive every day,

memorize little landmarks: the row of cottonwoods,
the peaked shelter at the reservoir’s edge,

the water towers marking the reservation.
I will become so sick of the sagebrush,

the snow and the sun, an incessant blue sky,
that I’ll wilt to think of this place being home.

But today it’s a morning I’m not sorry to be awake for,
so that’s something. And no one mourns a coyote

with his russet head resting on the road’s shoulder.
Neither does the ditch fire elicit sympathy.

The sunflowers did not teach me this,
but their small faces look so cheerful

bouncing in the slipstream of traffic—
I will believe anything they say.