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”.


It Shouldn’t Hurt to Blurt

China is a very civilized place, I tell my wife.

No Twitter.

No Facebook.

There may be other reasons for that, besides simple national good taste and refined judgement, but there you go. She rolls her eyes. She yeah yeah yeahs. And she reminds me how Facebook has been useful to her, a mature professional woman with no time for silliness but a considerable desire to connect. Okay. I make a grudging concession, and she goes back to the VPN (Virtual Private Network) that allows her access. Apparently, all the cool ex-pats do it. But not Jay Cool.

Long story short: you can’t follow me on Twitter

(And for the life of me, why would anyone want to? Right now I am typing. A moment ago I was eating. I plan to read. In an hour or so, I’ll turn in early. Several hours later, I will wake up to pee. Several hours after that, repeat. And tomorrow will be another gripping day of doing.)

But I AM considering doing some Twitter-esque blurting on here, mostly things that I wonder about, notice, or remember. This, mind you, is not out of any sense that the world needs my thoughts on this or that, but just as an excuse to record what is usually quite fleeting (by the nearest thing I have to Tweeting). Just for the sake of an external challenge — playing tennis with  a net, as Robert Frost might have suggested — I may even observe the 140-character limit that Twitter imposes. But I AM NOT A TWIT.

Blurt the First is coming. Warn your children. Guard your pets.