Virtual Hugs vol. 1 | #70
A new series for your bad days
Virtual Hugs is a new series for the newsletter. As someone who is always reading and consuming, I stumble upon letters, poetry or stories that feel like a warm hug. Hope that this series makes you feel better on your bad days. You can read all the letters for paying subscribers here. All of them have a sneak peek for you to consider becoming a paying subscriber.
Megan Jones touched on how she relied on her Sufjan Stevens t-shirt on her bad days. My equivalence to a Sufjan Stevens t-shirt is probably my Spotify playlists, Alain de Botton’s books and poetry books by my poet friends. They are here as a safety net on my worst days. But I tend to not reach for them on those days (I know, pretty ironic).
I think everyone does this. Whether it’s lucky underwear, or a piece of jewellery you got for your eighteenth birthday, or your particularly sexy top that you only wear on first dates, everyone has material things they turn to when they want things to go their way. … It doesn’t actually change anything, or affect the outcome. It just puts you in a state of mind where you think you can handle whatever this stupid life throws at you, and in a weird kind of circular logic, it means that you do end up handling it. Matter over mind, if you will.
Emily Abbate wrote a story about seeing a stranger having a breakdown and how asking “you okay?” could break the dam.
A few years ago, I was headed home from Brooklyn on the Q train having my own moment and caught eyes with an elderly woman sitting across from me going over the Manhattan Bridge. I immediately looked away, but noticed out of my peripheral vision that she was digging into her bag. She pulled out a travel pack of tissues, and then she proceeded to offer me one. I felt another wave of emotion come over me as I cracked a smile and grabbed one from her. She nodded. I got off at the next stop.
When you are present, you are not in the past or the vision of the future, but instead in the realm of infinite possibilities. Sometimes the idea of all thoughts being rooted in the past makes me anxious like there is no ability to create new. But that is where presence comes in. When you quiet the mind and you are truly present, that is where new can be created and formed.
A beginner’s mind takes an I-don't-know-let-me-see frame of mind. It says, “this is a new moment and I can’t possibly know its full meaning. I am going to wait and see.” It tells us to stop before we immediately evaluate, judge, or try to control it. And that’s just the beginning of it. Once our mind has already placed a thought onto something, we have to question its truth. Is this thought actually true? Because the only way the thought can create suffering is if we believe it and feel attached to that.
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