Meditation for writers (and others)
Did you know that Jerry Seinfeld meditates? Apparently he’s been meditating — specifically, transcendental meditation — since 1979. Which explains a lot about how the actor, writer, and producer has remained so calm after living in New York City over the course of the past five decades.
I’ve felt very discombobulated this year. I’ve used that word a lot. I live a stone’s throw from CHOP, or the block formerly known as CHOP. The Hugo House, the writer’s haven to which I belong, is dead center in the middle of the CHOP landscape. The idea of going to the writing center now gives me hives. But there is some good there: little free grocery tents. Street art. A shuttered police precinct. Korean food and beer. Memories of good and lovely people and creativity and production. Productive conversations about what to do from here, how to move forward.
But hearing the sirens all summer left me, to say it mildly, concerned. I was wound tighter than a spool of barbed wire. I’m still working on unspooling.
I forget a lot of the times to take care of my whole self. I get focused on taking care of my creative self, or caught up in the external self, but not the parts of me that need to do things like eat nutritious foods or sleep regularly or get outside and get fresh air. That last part, of course, has been more difficult than usual this year. Between quarantine and the smoke, outside has been toxic. It’s literally on fire. There’s been no way to store up the sun, or even human interaction, for the long winter months ahead. There’s hardly been a way to escape Seattle.
Now that the air is more clear, walking has again become my meditation. Playlists and the making of them has become one for me also. I thought this list would be a seasonal one, but it turns out I’m enjoying it too much. It gets me out of my head. It snaps my neck back from whatever position of repose it would rather be in, like that girl in the Ring, but slightly less dead. It keeps me from texting exes, or spending too much money. It’s been a hard year: personally, professionally politically. But we can’t let that stop us.
This playlist gets me off the couch. It gets me outside. It’s perfectly suited for a long fall walk in a long wooded park, of which Seattle has plenty. I’ve been an avid Volunteer Park nymph since moving back to Eastlake, but I’ve been attempting to explore parks and botanical gardens to which I’ve never been. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived two decades in this town without visiting the Arboretum before now. I’m not sure a canoe ride from the UW boat lunch back in my youth counts, exactly. It’s a different experience on land, for sure.
On a non-playlist note, I lost 20 pounds this summer between diet, exercise, and taking care of my whole self. In spite of everything. Because of everything?
SADs Songs, Vol. 2
There is some science behind this playlist. The first few songs are intended to get your heart rate up. They are driving songs. Forces of nature to propel you against the cold and the fog. Three-minute escapes to help you forget the fact that you’re tripping over halved chestnuts on the trail.
And then it dramatically changes. You can’t not meditate when you listen to Florist. There is no other option. If that song in that moment does not snap the synapses in your brain out of their fugue state, I don’t know what will. Just try it. Go for a walk and see. You’ll find yourself following leaf trails as they drop from an unknowable branch above.
After that, it picks back up again. But there are ups and downs, too. Just like Seattle hills. Just like life. It ends on a positive note. As I hope this all does.
Veterans of this list might notice something different about Vol. 2 — non-female voices in the mix. It’s 2020, after all. No reason to exclude an entire gender from what would be a perfect mix of music. Plus, it’s so easy to get in a rut and just put Lucy Dacus or a Lucy-Dacus-related-project on every single playlist. I no longer have the programming gods at a radio station to tell me what to do, so I’m doing it my way.
Here’s the playlist:
Forth Wanderers — Slop
Bacchae — Open Wound
Diet Cig — Harvard
Florist — The Fear of Losing This
Hurray for the Riff Raff — Living In The City
Little Wings — Look at What the Light Did Now
Haley Heynderickx — Drinking Song
Field Music — -h-o-u-s-e-k-e-y-z-
Beulah — Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand
Kevin Morby — Harlem River
Langhorne Slim — Sea of Love
Remember Sports — Get Bummed Out
p.s. eliot — Incoherent Love Songs
If you enjoy any of these artists, please consider supporting them during BandCamp Fridays. The Florist vinyl albums are particularly nice. Diet Cig offers colored — and confetti! — cassettes, which are still a thing, apparently. The next BandCamp Friday is November 6.
Don’t walk — run to the polls
Cheesy, sure. Allow me a rare political moment in the playlist space. If you’re not currently fed up with our broken system of government, our propagandist-in-chief, or our. I don’t know. Our entire system, at this point? To paraphrase James Baldwin, we cannot change what we have not faced, and the only way to face it is by dropping your ballot off in whatever means is available to you.
Since this list actually has subscribers from all over the place, I suggest, if you haven’t voted in awhile, if you just don’t know what to do about voting, if you need some voting advice, to check out these resources below.
If ever there is a reason for meditation, for a long walk in the woods, it’s the long walk in the wilderness that is our current political climate. We can climb out of this darkness, out of the tall grass. But not without a fight.
In the words of p.s. eliot: Remain valiant.
Thanks so much for being here. It’s so nice to feel as though I have a connection to the outside world in the wake of stay-home life. A reason to check in and share things.
As for a benediction, today would mark John Lennon’s 80th birthday. SADs Songs’ title came from Imagine, and although the Beatles and I have a love-hate relationship, they still remain one of the most influential bands of all time. Charlotte adores Yellow Submarine and, for now, it’s on repeat at our house.
Until next time,