Things That Do No Harm

[3-minute read]

It’s a day for making lists. It’s June, after all.

Mind you, I could be writing about another especially brutal bomb in Kabul, or the abdication of ecological (or just plain logical) leadership by influential nations, or the special kind of impotent cowardice coupled with childish indignation that moves a hateful little human to scrawl hateful toilet-stall names on a rich black man’s apparently uppity home. But not today.

It’s a green day in June. I spent some time thinking – she made me do it, one of those gentle coaching shoves – about harmlessness, which apparently isn’t so far from cleanliness, or learning, or trees, or spirit. I’ve made a list of harmless things, which might even be worth less faint praise than that. Like:

+ Looking for new beginnings in all the untimely neighbourhoods. Such as, oh, June.

+ Walking among trees and alongside water.

+ Railway bridges, even where the trains are extinct.

+ Saying “good mornin’” to random bikers, walkers and drunks.

+ Wearing an old synthetic baseball jersey – still brightly white! – with a big ol’ 22 on the back, going way back to the last time I was a reasonable facsimile of an athlete.

+ Being one layer short on a morning-walk-that-shouldn’t-have-been-that-cool-‘cause-it’s-JUNE-fer-cryin’-out-sideways! I guess it’s chill to be chill, though.

+ Writing and saying things like “for crying out sideways” and “keep your eyes peeled for my phone” that confirm my status as a genuine relic of a bygone age. I’m a fossil.

+ Naps.

+ Roses as they fade. Untidiness. Dust on the mantle.

+ Believing in people.

+ Breezes in the treeses.

+ Twenty percent of my excess lard. (The remainder does harm my feelings.)

+ Forgetting, occasionally, that everything I might want to know is only a click away.

+ Saving money. Underrated: the frugality of small economies, even if scorned by belligerent teenaged opinionators who nevertheless would like a higher allowance.

+ Keeping my mouth shut, in cases of doubt.

+ Believing in God without piling on my neighbour, or random bikers, walkers and drunks.

+ Filling my gas tank before it’s down to the last drop.

+ Dandelions.

+ Deciding to procrastinate on visiting the candy aisle.

+ Reading with something approaching a plan, say, three or four weeks per year.

+ Caring about the lives of people I don’t know personally.

+ Refusing to allow that such a thing is inefficient or foolish.

+ A little extra time for meditation, or even just thinking about nothing. (Or humming old pop songs, but don’t overdo it.)

+ Boring stories of glory days¹. (Speaking of moderation.)

+ Opening up a notebook and writing by feel and by hand.

+ Flossing.

+ Preferences for glass jars, paper bags, iron pots and wooden-handled hoes.

+ Composting in the back yard.

+ Weeding before it’s strictly necessary.

+ Walking when no particular body that I know (i.e. mine) is willing or able to run.

+ Believing in the usefulness of belief.

+ Watching another NBA Finals game 1 instead of writing about racism, climate change or the miseries of Kabul.

+ Another blog entry.

Not such a bad list, after all.

¹ Give yourself a one-bite brownie if you recognized Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days”.


2013 in Review: The Great Eighteen. Writing you can READ.

The last time I compiled a “Best of Howdy” list, for 2012, it was easier. I browsed through the year’s posts, remembered some things I liked, whittled it down to 10, gave a brief description, done. This time I tried to get more scientific, more democratic, and it’s been a mess. Not a lot of people responded to my invitation to submit favourites of the year, but they were some of my best readers and it was satisfying to hear about posts they liked. But.

My correspondents were far from unanimous in their preferences, and often those didn’t match the things I’d have chosen. And now that I have slightly more sophisticated analytics, I can easily check which posts had the most page views, which was often a completely different list from mine or the sometimes-odd choices of my panellists. A blogger’s work is never done. All this did cause extra work, but it was good thinking – along with the sidebar reflections that my Choice Readers had made – about what I’ve done, what worked and didn’t, and especially about what got read, and how. As it turns out, a tour of these will give you a pretty good idea of what I’m on (and off) about.

So here it is, again in the form of a quick trip through the Howdy catalogue. And I know: eighteen posts? Well, I plead indecision, for one thing, but it’s hard to choose among your children. There were 128 of them birthed on for 2013; also I reached my 500th post overall. Not a bad year, I’m not afraid to admit it.¹

Continue Reading >>