- live five years in a tilting house. impact? low. marbles? easily found at the southern-most edge of any room.
- having collected your marbles, advance toward any and all signs of better well-being. spend more time out of the tilting house. let more people into your tilting house. say yes when friends extend invitations. take long and intentional walks. see a life coach. when the life coach tells you you should see a therapist, ask someone you trust for a name and call him. climb the stairs to his office. you will come to love these stairs. sit on one side of the couch for a couple of months. then move to the other side. you are ready. your perspective is shifting. you must shift, too.
- go away. go away, go away, go away, go away, go away. feel it move in you like a switch being pulled on a track. this is not because you do not love your friends, do not love your tilting house, do not love your soft gray couch, do not love your neighborhood, do not love your view of the river, do not love your green metal bridge. this is not because you do not love your supermarket, coffee shop, pizza parlor. this is not because you do not know your way around backroads and front roads. this is not because you do not still have many conversations you can imagine having, wish to have. this is not because you have already done everything there is to do in this town, at this desk, among these folk. this is because of something else. it is because of something else you know to be true but are still learning to trust. and, in learning to trust that you can go away, you learn to trust how fully you must be exactly where you are. the heart is tenderized, not cauterized, and this, this, this, this, this is how you will continue to grow.
- be in your country. be in it for a whole month after you have packed the last of your things into the stick shift car that will surpass 150k on your way out of town. be in it. be in it on june 29, 2016, when news of terror attacks in turkey will repeat on every npr station you catch from 22963 to 14830 on your way back for a visit. be in it to hear and to cry; to feel the clarity in your sorrow as the skin of humanity pulls away from the muscle. grieve for the killers and grieve for the killed. grieve for the man who threw his body on the bomber. this story contains what we are made for, what we are made of, what we are tragically capable of being so bereft from that we can plan and execute its destruction.
- be in your country july 4, 2016. lie back on a sloping dike beside someone who wants to hold you as fireworks fly and umbrella the full scope of your periphery. be there while it is beautiful and be there while you cannot shake the sense of profanity entangled in our simulating bombs for our own pleasure. be there while it is beautiful and profane and beautiful and profane. be there when the urgent desire arises to start the hundreds gathered to watch singing – singing something patriotic – so that you can all say something beautiful together. your anthem never seemed so appropriate as now, now that you have seen “bombs bursting in air”. but, when the show is over, everyone rises, some leaving their empties, and immediately begins walking towards home. you think you mustn’t be the only one tonight who heard the bombs in our “bombs,” who saw the rockets in our “rockets”.
- be in your country when philander castile and alton sterling lose their lives in the same week. the media will show you the country responding, social media will show your friends responding. you’ll look around yourself. you’ll ask questions. you’ll think you begin to understand. you’ll realize things are missing from what you realize. you’ll want to be more perfect in your understanding. at first you’ll try to realize answers; then you’ll try to realize questions. you’ll hope you can realize how to ask them. you want to be brave enough to say what you don’t know and to speak what you hope and to keep after the will to see the systemic truth while seeing each man and woman in the eyes.
- and get ready. get ready to leave to go, to go, to go, to be going, to be going, to go. get ready to read and read and read and have more to read; to be behind on your postcards and your electronic correspondences. get ready to run out of fresh sheets, fresh towels, and fresh sox. get ready to find the grocery store, laundromat, bus stop, train station. get ready to make every purchase into a math problem, converting currency to currency. get ready to figure out how to be with new people and away from old people and with yourself, with yourself, with yourself. and dance. and cry. and get better.
- with love, in particular, to aaron e.l.r.b., katie v., paisley w., josh a., rodi r., maria k., connie s.b., laura c., bryce b., daniel h., terry o., michael c., beth b., edward d., sue m., hannah l., cathy a.t., jill k., matthew w., kaye n. …. our conversations changed my year. your support changed my life. and thanks to others i cannot name to whom i am bonded though distance serves us. and to the boys at vitrix and all my other corning steadies: much love. keep your eyes on everything beautiful and keep growing. see you soon.
- more to come. t.s.s.