I Don’t Need to Read Everything and Neither Do You

click for link to Pocket

I use the Pocket app to hold onto articles I to want read later when I can give them my complete attention. But sometimes when I go back “to see what’s in my Pocket,” I can’t recall why I saved some things. Whatever interested me in the first place is gone. In those moments, I have a little struggle and need to remind myself: I don’t need to read every word. Move on. It’s okay.

It’s okay not to read everything.
It’s okay not to read posts that don’t interest me.
It’s okay not to read everyone’s Facebook updates.
It’s okay not to respond to everyone’s updates. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the person anymore.
It’s okay not to read every tweet.
It’s okay not to read every book and I certainly don’t have the capacity to read every book.

It’s all okay. It truly is. But you weren’t waiting for my permission, were you?

These are crazy times. There isn’t time or energy to process what happens before something else comes along. It can feel like an assault, the constant barrage.

I want to stay in-the-know, sure, but I don’t need to read everything. I don’t need to listen to everything. And I don’t need to be the first to know hardly anything. I will survive not being the first to know.

Breaking news is like a train.
If you miss one, another will be along shortly.

I file these thoughts under “Self-Preservation.”

Posted in boundaries, traveling light | 1 Comment

The Small Beans of Your Life and Mine

Lately I have felt overwhelmed by the beans in my life. – L.L. Barkat.

I KEPT A JOURNAL, seen by no one. Started in 2008, after his diagnosis. It contained the small beans of my days, my thoughts. I was embarrassed to be keeping it, as if this thing was all about me, as though something important was happening to me. I kept it tucked away, unlabeled, unidentifiable, not that there was anything in it that couldn’t be shared, but the very act of writing in it, of thinking anything happening in my head, in my life, deserved a witness, seemed wrong.

A year later, my friend says, “I hope you are keeping a journal.” It’s the first time I admit it outright. Only then, and only a single word.

“Yes.”


I no longer write, I tell myself, confusing writing with publishing, because by then I have stopped so much of what I used to do – querying, outlining, drafting, submitting. Another six months and I begin to believe the whisper in my head. I may never write again, like a swimmer claiming he’ll never swim again, all the while maintaining a constant stroke, daily going back and forth in the deep end of the pool.

This is the secret of the prolific writer.
To agree to use small beans and the ingredients at hand. – L.L. Barkat

It’s a crazy thing about writing and writers, that we often look for the big story, shoving aside the small beans, not realizing the story may lie in the small beans. It happens.

This post is a prose version of a post in verse written in October 2011.
Source: Rumors of Water by L.L. Barket, T.S. Poetry Press, New York, 2011.

Posted in finding your voice, journal, Rumors of Water, writing | 3 Comments

Infusion Mondays #2

In my fantasy life, I am easygoing.

MONDAY 9:20 AM – I would go get Wally a cinnamon bun from Panera, except it means I have to pass by the nurses’ station and I don’t want to pass by the nurses’ station, not after the little exchange I had with the nurse who said “It doesn’t matter” regarding something that matters to me. I promised myself I wasn’t going to say anything. Turns out, the words “it doesn’t matter” can provoke even a person of strong resolve to violate vows of silence.

“You didn’t say anything wrong,” Wally assures me, but it’s a long-established fact he can’t be counted upon for an objective opinion about anything related to me. He has a blind spot that always works in my favor.

Playbill for MY OLDEST and DEAREST FRIEND visited over the weekend. Fifty years we’ve been friends. Or 51. We went back and forth on that one. She flew up from Florida. The visit was planned months ago, as soon as I learned the musical “Beautiful” was coming to Louisville. At 6:00 AM on December 1st, the very minute tickets went on sale, I was online nailing down the two best seats I could get.

Did I forget or was it intentional, my not telling her before she came that Wally was back in treatment? Did I fear should wouldn’t come? She still would have come. Anyway, the news came out in conversation between the two of them Friday evening. That’s when it dawned on me I hadn’t told her earlier.

“I’m not easygoing anymore,” I tell her.
She doesn’t buy it. Of course she doesn’t. I’ve been relaxed and smiling since she arrived.

“Seriously,” I say.
She looks to Wally for confirmation, despite the long-established fact (see above). . .

“I’ve been trying to remember lately what I was like when I was young. Was I  really easygoing then or is that just a myth I’ve believed all these years?”

THIS is the beauty of having a friend who’s been a eyewitness to your life: They can help straighten things out for you. And then, in a way that is inexplicable, but it seems to often happen, as they help you, something that needed straightening in their life comes to the fore and is also addressed. So you’re never owing a friend for having burdened her with your stuff. She has stuff, too.

MONDAY 9:41 AM – I muster courage and step into the hospital corridor. I fetch cinnamon buns, plus 2 plastic forks, napkins, one hazelnut coffee and one light roast. We have a little nosh.

I apologize to the nurse, who claims not to recall me snapping at her.

* * *

NOTES: Infusion Mondays #1 – Morning People

Posted in clinical trial, CLL, friendship, long view | 4 Comments