Good Links No.20
Being bored, choosing joy, and learning to forgive.
Where is all the dad content?
Greetings from new-dad-land! This issue of the newsletter is brought to you by a very little girl who is sleeping through the night.
In reflecting on my experience as a parent, I've noticed a tendency to focus on the forest more than the trees. I'm less concerned with details such as whether Lucy has eaten in the last 3-4 hours than I am with whether she's generally active and lively. The image that comes to my mind is of a map and a checklist. Raising a child isn't like building a dresser from IKEA, even if I occasionally consult a manual about how much and how often she should be eating. So, in my inexperience, I've turned to mom podcasts.
Why mom podcasts? Mostly because the dad podcasts I've checked out seem oddly focused on being dads and not on dad-ing actual children. This irks me. Adding "dad." to my Twitter bio means little to me compared to considering what my daughter needs from me to grow up curious, rooted, and brave. There are probably good dad podcasts out there, but I haven't found them yet.
This turn towards tending a family is a curious thing itself. I always expected to raise kids, but I never fantasized about being a family. Now, I find myself thinking quite easily about the three of us as a unit and not just two partners, each with individuals projects and aspirations. But just because it's easy to conceive of my growing family as the controlling interest in all my comings and goings doesn't mean the execution isn't hard. My writing is very much a side gig, and while I'm so thankful for paying subscribers who are willing to invest in my writing more words, it's still only a lightly compensated hobby. I've been anxiously thinking about how much time and effort I can devote to Good Words and other projects, in line with capacities and new responsibilities. I hope to have more news on that front soon, but for now, I hope everyone enjoys this season of Good Links for all as much as I'm enjoying being home with Lucy full-time as she tries (and fails) to sit up.
Blessed Boredom - Joy Clarkson
I can't say I've been bored much since Lucy was born. Even so, this piece got me thinking about how easy it is to crowd out our inner world, not just with distractions but also unprecedented access to information and entertainment. These very good things – in overabundance – may be harming our ability to find "deep consistent calm" throughout busy and lazy days alike.
Clarkson turns to the desert fathers and mothers for assurance that this struggle isn't wholly new, even if the scale is unique to our moment.
Slipping away into my internal world is not as easy as it used to be. There used to be a quiet waiting for me, a deep consistent calm that I could retreat into with the least moment of opportunity. Now it evades me, or, is crowded out by the cacophonous demands of life and work and the perpetual pinging of my phone.
Finding God in Fictional Stories - Heather Morton
I won't lie, this short reflection on reading made my heart sing a sweet little song. Since becoming a dad a few short months ago, I've started thinking about who we'll be as a family unit, what we'll say we do "in our house..."
I have no doubt we'll watch great movies and enjoy good TV, but I'll be damned if we don't give books pride of place. We'll wear them out, borrow them, put them in backpacks, lend them, and tuck them away to better sneak them out while we should be sleeping.
Ugh! There's the little song starting again.
I learned there was more than one way to be a Visigoth: that one could love the right books for the wrong reasons.
How To Stop Living in 'Infinite Browsing Mode'
Or, 'how to do the next good thing, closest to you, with an eye to growing in virtue and not maximizing potential value.'
One is about committing to things outside yourself, whether that's the work of fighting for reform, putting down roots in a particular location, or joining a community built around a certain craft or skill. Keeping your options open, on the other hand, means trying to maximize the options that your future self has, at the expense of commitments to particular things in the here and now.
Why is it so hard to forgive?
Elizabeth Bruenig (The Atlantic) and Sean Illing (Vox) are two of the most sane and sincere public voices online. Their discussion of forgiveness doesn't disappoint and is an excellent on-ramp for further reflection.
Does your philosophy of forgiveness fall apart without your religious worldview to anchor it?
You can read the interview via the link or listen to the conversation below (or on your podcast app of choice).
Joy: Actively Engaging With God's Goodness
Joy isn't just something that happens to us. We can also choose to enact it – to take joy – by rejoicing in small wonders, people, and the bits of bobs of existence.
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I'm opening up the group to free subscribers for a limited time, so come join our little band of merry-makers and question-posers!