#404: Chronos/Kairos

Dusky evening. Narrow car-lined street at three small bungalows, middle one lit warm yellow by streetlight.
Hamtramck, MI

I rolled out some updates to my membership program this week, and also rechristened it as Dumpling Club. For newer Sunday letter readers thinking, “You have a Patreon thingy?” The answer is, Yes, I do. And yes, I’ve been a poor promoter of it. Allow me to pledge-drive you for a few sentences: Memberships help stabilize my writing income. They also subsidize my author visits to under-resourced schools and libraries, allowing me to offer a sliding scale while still earning my standard rate.

That’s the main reason to contribute $5/month: to show that you appreciate what I do and help me keep doing it. There is, also, a growing list of member-only perks too, like exclusive updates and giveaways. I’m also constantly trying new things with members like a Zoom book club, and monthly virtual co-working sessions. This week I also posted a recording of my author talk for See You in the Cosmos, and over time I’ll post other talks as I phase them out of my lineup.

So even if you’re a longtime reader, consider joining Dumpling Club. (You’ll have to click through to see why I gave it that name 😎)

One of the most energizing things I’ve done lately is change where I meditate in the mornings. We have an upstairs balcony that’s seen little use since we moved in in 2019. Its floor is topped with black synthetic rubber to protect the sunroom below, and that rubber has dirtied with twigs and gutter gunk, with detritus from the elm in our backyard. Decking it over has been on our house-project list for a while, but there’s always a higher-priority something else.

Maybe that needs to change. Lately I’ve been keeping a yoga mat and meditation cushion by the balcony door. It helps that the weather’s been nice, and that my charging pad and handy little visual timer sit in the adjacent room. I can reliably set the phone down, pick up the timer, and go out onto the balcony, my butt safely protected from gunk by a layer of yoga mat and cloth bag of buckwheat hulls.

I’ve been noticing, too, that I have usually one or two preoccupations every morning. One or two whirlpools into which my drifting thoughts sluice. They’re typically near-future tasks and projects, and the fact that I can’t stop thinking about them means I’m excited to do them. Means they have energy.

Mandy Brown has a mantra: energy makes time:

[Her coaching clients] had assumed, wrongly, that there wasn’t enough time in the day to do their art, because they assumed (because we’re conditioned to assume) that every thing we do costs time. But that math doesn’t take energy into account, doesn’t grok that doing things that energize you gives you time back. By doing their art, a whole lot of time suddenly returned. Their art didn’t need more time; their time needed their art.

Very much in this same realm is Jenny Odell’s Saving Time, which happens to be the Dumpling Club Book Club summer book (😎). I’ve been reading a chapter or two a week, and I’m impressed by how both hyperfocal and eclectic Odell’s research is. I picture high-powered lasers probing from different angles, which feels just right for a topic as big as the one she’s addressing.

For a while I’ve joked that I send out this newsletter “most Sundays (and sometimes Monday morning).” With my schedule lately, it’s been more like once a random day of the week – so long as it’s not Sunday. I can’t tell if I just haven’t had the energy most Sunday nights, or/and I’m becoming less tethered to mechanical time. Either way, thanks for reading, whenever you read.