The Octopus is living the good life
Let's get this out of the way first of all. This isn't a polished, professional newsletter or blog that looks glossy and well-designed. I'm not a polished and professional person, and I'm not interested in glossy and well-designed.
I'm forty-five--old enough to be realizing that, actually, I don't know nearly as much as I thought I did twenty-five years ago when I had everything figured out and knew where I was going.
I have a hard time with linearity. With doing one thing at a time until it's done. The explanation for that is ADHD and neurodivergence, but knowing why something happens doesn't really change it. I'm sitting here, supposedly writing, and I can feel my brain reaching out in all directions at once, like an octopus with fifty arms. Each arm has grasped something interesting and brings it to my attention, while at the same time I'm trying--desperately--to deal with the pile of things that the arms have already brought me. And that one thing that I'm supposed to be taking care of right now so I can get it checked off my list.
The octopus doesn't care, though. It just keeps finding more things to bring to my attention. The octopus never, ever takes a break or sleeps. It's relentless. There's always something else to think about, a connection to make, a project to start. The octopus is both my greatest strength and my worst enemy.
A dozen years ago, I laid out a bunch of my books on the rug and took a picture of them. The picture's lost in hard drives of the past, but the impetus behind it remains. That was when I realized that all the different areas that I kept cycling through--nutrition and spirituality and gardening and ecology, among others--were really just facets of one big thing. I'd always thought that I was just flaky, without the ability to find one area to specialize in and stick with it. That day, with those books staring up at me, I realized that I wasn't flaky at all.
The octopus that is my brain wasn’t grabbing random things, but had some sort of underlying structure. Not a ‘Grand Plan,’ exactly, since it wasn’t all planned out in advance. But an emergent *something* that exists as its own thing, even though I have a hard time defining it. For lack of a better term, I use Helen and Scott Nearing’s phrase: living the good life.
That’s what I’m exploring in my work, how to live a good life. How to be joyful in the midst of heartache. How to be healthy and well even when facing physical and psychological challenges. How to participate in community in a meaningful way. How to do good work. How to be in relationship with friends and family.
How to be myself, as authentically as possible, and to use my own particular gifts to do good in the world.
The Octopus newsletter is the place where I pick up and examine the different pieces that comprise my own Good Life. Thanks for joining me here.
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