MWD34 - On anxiety

or why I'm sending this today instead of Wednesday

Welcome to Midweek Dinner. If this is your first time here, feel free to poke around and ask questions (but wear a mask, ok?). Perhaps you’d be interested in seeing the very first edition? If you like the look of the place, stick around! You can sign up here to receive a new issue every Wednesday, delivered piping hot, right to your doorstep.

Tomorrow, I will show up at my polling place before 7 and work for more than 12 hours to make it possible for others to vote, and I’m not asking for congratulations or kudos, and in fact, I’m equal parts excited and terrified, and who the hell knows what the day after that will look like, so even though it is not midweek, and even though I had a bowl of cereal at 4 and will probably reheat leftovers at some point for dinner, I’m sending this now. A hodgepodge of things that caught my interest in the last week or so. Because that’s all I’ve got. That and a big bundle of anxiety.

The other night, I put on my mask (and kept it on!) and went to a friend’s house to play MarioKart. This is not a normal activity for me or for my friend. She had bought a Nintendo Switch as part of her plan for what might be an unusually isolating winter. She was attempting to ward off the negative winter feelings that were already peering around the corner of fall, and judging by our laughter ringing out her screen door, she had made an excellent decision. We live in a remarkably mild climate, but winter still has the potential to bring on the darker feelings. This article provides a Scandinavian primer for how to embrace winter, and I highly recommend we all start looking for ways to generate more “outdoorphins” and living that friluftsliv (or ‘open air life’) this winter.

I want to think more about this on the idea of prioritizing friendship over romantic relationships, especially within the context of a growing interest in some research around marriage and fairy tales.

The results from the New Leaf project are so powerful. This initiative out of Canada gave direct cash payments to the homeless - large, one-time infusions of money - and then followed up over the course of a year to see how the recipients would fare. This study, while not large, offers a counter-narrative to the prevailing opinions about those experiencing poverty and/or homelessness. Initiatives like this are part of an ongoing conversation about the role of government in supporting and protecting the most vulnerable among us. There are many who argue that private foundations and religious organizations should shoulder this burden, and, sure, maybe they should. But they have had every opportunity to mend these broken places in our society, and either they haven’t done it, or they have been unable to do enough. This failure leads many to believe the only way to accomplish this kind of mass-care-giving is through the government.

That same friend, the one with the Switch, told me this amazing story back in the spring, and I’m still thinking about it. She was feeling pretty sad, and she asked an old friend of hers, now a pastor, to recommend some reading that might help. It is his answer that I return to again and again. He asked,

Well, do you want something to pull you out of the sadness or take you further in? Both would be a faithful path.

Whatever the next few days brings, that’s a good reminder.

And now, from the wayback machine, here’s one of my favorite things to have come out of this pandemic:

Published this week:

Just a bit of Sunday Poetry this week. Elizabeth Alexander’s American Sublime.

American Sublime

Thanks as always for reading and thinking with me. Have comments, suggestions, or questions? Reply to this email, and I promise a response.