Yesterday was the best day of my son’s life. In truth, it was a good day. We gave him something new, he chatted with his California cousins, and my wife made cupcakes. All good things - especially the cupcakes! My son, though, has the “best day of his life” almost every day! A couple of days earlier, he met boys his age while playing at a nearby playground. They had a great time together, and it was the best day of his life.
When we grow up, we have fewer “best days.” So why do we set the bar so high? Do we limit our joy by reserving what we call the “best days” for only those that are especially remarkable? Do we determine what makes them unique, or do we measure them against a cultural yardstick? Does that yardstick align with the depth of joy in a simple moment, like the time a child tells us that today was the best day of his life?
Finished reading: A Children’s Bible: A Novel by Lydia Millet 📚 I love the voice and character development in this book! The words read like a cynical 16-17-year-old girl said them, and the whole book was worth reading for the prose. However, the book’s central idea (tieing climate change to biblical stories) felt shallow and unfelt by the narrator as if the cynicism was more important than anything else.
Finding My Bubbles Day 8: Memories Tonight, my wife retold a memory about when I got punched in the ear while (thinking) I was rescuing her from a stranger at a nightclub many years ago. I had forgotten the story, and the retelling was bubbles. Maybe it was the way she told it, or that the memory stayed with her, or perhaps it was just reliving a memory. Either way… bubbles.
Finding My Bubbles Day 6: Saying yes! I have found that saying “yes” has been the trick to finding lightness and energy in the everyday. Tonight, my son asked me to play soccer with him after I got home, and I said, “yes!” Later my daughter wanted to ride her bike, and I said “yes.” No specific event today, just the everyday stuff that was pure bubbles!
Finding My Bubbles Day 5: Cannon Ball! That feeling of anticipation, worry, dread, and cold 🥶 right before jumping into a pool or lake. It is worse when wading in first! But, that relief and calm after taking the plung is pure Bubbles! Swimming with my kids tonight, they were splashing me as I tried to summon the courage to get in (to the water) with them. I responded with the only recourse I could think of… Cannon Ball!
Finding My Bubbles Day 4: The goal of this challenge is to find the lightness, energy, and joy in the everyday. I failed all day! I woke up and started loading up the RV, two kids, three dogs, dump station 🤢, crazy busy McDonalds for the (starving) kids, and then unloading everything. I was a grump most of the day, but as I reflect upon it now… bubbles! Miserable, heavy, long, and yet light, happy, and as good as it will ever be!
Finding My Bubbles Day 3: Fourth of July.🇺🇸 Independence Day. America the Beautiful. Bubbles! Of course, bubbles!
Finding My Bubbles Day 2: Union Made Beer.🍺 The summer of 1996, I worked as junior staff at a summer camp in northeast Washington State. Another staff member wrote a clever song about union-made beer. It was an ode to beer that a college student could afford (think Coors, Budweiser, Miller, etc.). As I write this, I am camping in North Idaho, remembering an old friend & a wonderful time, making new memories with my family, and drinking a mass-produced (probably union-made) beer. Bubbles! The crisp, cold, and familiar in a new context.
About twenty years ago, a friend burned me a copy of Ben Harper’s Burn to Shine. I loved it so much, but I was also a little ashamed and angry that I had not found Harper’s music earlier. Reading American Pastoral made me feel the same way about Philip Roth.
American Pastoral was a challenging read about the darkness in the American soul during the second half of the 20th century. Darkness that started with over-moralizing, over-simplifying, and thinking anyone of us might understand the heart and motivations of another.
1 : the property of forming bubbles: the action or process of effervescing
2 : an appealingly lively quality
Bubbles. I love watching my toddler daughter when she plays with bubbles! I love how she tightens her shoulders and holds her breath as I blow tiny bubbles into the air, her jumping up and down as she chases them, her exacerbation when she pops them, and her smiling pleading “again, again!” She is so alive, so full of anticipation. As her Dad, I get to feel the same effervescence just by being near her, I share in it, but it is not mine.
Responsibility, disappointments, cynicism, and exhaustion follow us into maturity. Maybe maturity is brought by them, but either way, we can lose our bubbles. We still have our joy, meaning, and purpose, but life can feel like a shallow breath – providing all the oxogen we need to survive, but not the calm and awareness needed to live. It takes deliberate practice to breathe, and I wonder if that isn’t the same with our effervescence.
I am going to find my “bubbles!” I don’t know where to look, but my first thought is to try to have fresh eyes & ears and find the familiar as new. So for the next 30 days, I will find something to experience again – but for the first time.
I don’t know what I will find, but whatever it is, I will share it here.
I stop hearing fans and trains after being around them for a time. I stop noticing low-light lamps when they have been on for a while. Similarly, I can stop recognizing simple truths in the same way! Remarkably, these ambient realities are sometimes surfaced while in a temporary context. For instance, my son got blisters while riding his bike recently.
He was riding more aggressive trails than he had in the past, and his hands paid the price. I explained that they would heal, and afterward, they would be less likely to blister next time. We then talked about his other love, soccer. We remembered all the times he fought through fatigue, losses, or embarrassment to get just a little better.
We agreed that sometimes pain is physical, and other times it is emotional, but it always comes first! And, just like that, we both benefited from his blisters, pain, and the awareness of an ambient truth.
Finished reading: Flash Boys by Michael Lewis 📚 Another book I had started reading several times and recently committed to finishing. Lewis spins a story from market volatility, electronic trading, and how big players make money from it all. So fun!
Taking it all in on his sketchpad. It was a glorious day in majestic Hope, ID!
I bought this book several years ago after discovering Mr. Robot. I lost interest then, but I recently decided to commit to finishing. It is (a book) about hacking communication and the tools in the social engineer’s toolbox. It was worth finishing.
“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much more esteemed if not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.” - Martin Luther
I will never forget my wife’s words the day after I gave her two Yorkshire Terriers. She looked at me, with budding tears in her eyes, and said: “I love them so much.” She did (does) too! She loved (loves) them so much it breaks her heart, but it’s nothing like how they’ve loved her.
A couple of years later, we adopted a larger dog and was just as packed with goodness as the Yorkies. Then, later, we adopted an older dog with terrible habits, but he too was imbued with all the love, goodness, and loyalty of the others. All four of them forgive completely, love absolutely, and give without expectation.
Perhaps Martin Luther was on to something, that the Divine’s greatest gifts to humanity are buried in abundance. Dogs are one example, but also consider the air we breathe, the earth we walk upon, or the laughter of a child. The value of these (and all the others) is without measure, yet we deem them less in their abundance.
Maybe the Divine is hidden in things of abundance. In the air we breathe, in the laughter of a child, or the loyalty & love of a dog.
”… the White House is essentially conceding that all of its unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus really is living for today with little regard for the future. It implicitly concedes that the growth it spurs now will have to be paid back later in the form of higher taxes or tighter monetary policy, which might reduce growth. This is the definition of a “sugar high.”
This is an interesting opinion piece about an economic term we’ve not regularly discussed since the 1970s: Stagflation.
“It remained difficult for many firms to hire new workers, especially low-wage hourly workers, truck drivers, and skilled tradespeople. The lack of job candidates prevented some firms from increasing output and, less commonly, led some businesses to reduce their hours of operation.”
The Beige Book is the Fed’s consolidation of opinions from community bankers and business owners. It is plain-spoken qualitative data about housing, labor markets, manufacturing, prices, tourism, etc. The Beige Book is the one (Fed) publication (published eight times per year) for everyone, and this one is worth a read!
”… as the pandemic has transformed our homes into offices and our bedrooms into backdrops, as public institutions increasingly fall prey to the mandates of the market—we’ve become cheerfully indentured to the idea that our worth as individuals isn’t our personal integrity or sense of virtue, but our ability to advertise our relevance on the platforms of multinational tech corporations.”
This was a fantastic read! It discussed everything from influencer culture, to higher education’s marketing failure, to difficult cultural questions on attention and presence.