These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.
1. The Film: A Quiet Place
I saw this movie under ideal circumstances. I had never even heard of it thirty minutes before it started. My wife was having an evening work meeting at our house, so I decided to make myself scarce and see whatever was playing at our local single-screen neighborhood theater.
This is now in the running for one of the best moviegoing experiences of my life. It did quite well over the weekend, and was number one at the box office, so chances are, you're probably more familiar with it than I was. But if not, don't read anything. Don't look up plot summaries. Don't check out reviews. Don't find out who directed it. Just find the next showtime, get there early, grab a snack, and go for it. We'll talk about it when it's over.
2. The Op Ed: “The Boys Are Not Alright”
Comedian Michael Ian Black does some thinking about how we're raising our boys in light of America's problem with school shootings.
3. The TV Mini-Series: Wild, Wild Country
The story of the Rajneeshees occupation still echoes here in Oregon, but I had absolutely no idea what really happened thirty years ago. There has never been a been a better example of “truth is stranger than fiction.” Get yourself to Netflix now and soak this one up.
4. The Personal Discipline: Leaving My Phone at Home
A few weeks ago, I inadvertently left my phone at home during a day of errands. It was amazing. I listened to music on the radio for the first time in years. I got lost, and had to stop to ask for directions. (Thanks Marie at Napa Auto Parts!). I did not have to Instagram Stories everything I was doing. I loved it.
Since then, I've been doing it intentionally. Not all the time, but when I'm doing things that are not work. Grocery shopping. Date nights with my wife. I don't miss it at all, and all my messages and to-dos are still there when I get back. At this point, if I'm not working late, I try to be off my phone by six pm, and don't touch it again until the next morning. I can't explain it more than just to say: my pockets and my soul feel lighter.
5. The Novel: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This came out nearly two years ago, so I'm a little late to the party, but this is the kind of book you want to buy a dozens of copies to give to everyone you know so you can talk about it with them as soon as possible. It's now out in paperback, so your local library probably has plenty of copies available. Snag one so we can talk about it.
6. The Podcast That Will Help You Fall Asleep: “Sleep With Me”
Apparently, there is a whole category of audio designed to help you sleep. Previously, I'd always avoided listening to things because I end up too engaged with the material and it gets my brain active.
That's not the case with “Sleep With Me.” Even if you wanted to follow the logic of these “bedtime stories,” you can't. Host Drew Ackerman has the uncanny ability to speak using dream logic, and the entire things is an hourlong stream of consciousness that does, magically, make it easier to fall asleep. It comes out twice a week, but there are hundreds of episodes in the archives, and you could easily listen to the same one again and again.
I can't really explain it, but it works. And if you, like me, need a little help at bedtime, this is very, very recommended.
(Shout out to my friend Andy Goebel for the recommendation)
7. The Quote: This One by Arthur Ashe
I've known this quote for years. But I currently have a “want to do” list a mile long, and that can make it tough for me to get moving on… anything.
This simple phrase has been helping me immensely. What's most amazing to me is how many situations this idea applies to: creative projects, household responsibilities, professional development, your daily to-do list, personal relationships, health and fitness, and so on. It's not rocket science to say that anything is better than nothing, but, when I'm aiming for an experience of presence but can't get out of my head, I find that I probably already do have everything I need to get going.