Nothing about Barbie in here
If you’ve been here a while you’ll know I’ve been trying to find the right equilibrium for this newsletter — what content I create, how often I send it, what’s paid and what’s free, and so on.
Starting this week I’m returning to an earlier format/cadence:
A weekly email featuring curated and annotated resources (“xx Things Right Now”), that will occasionally have a more extended introduction, but mostly have something equal to the length of this one
One long-form essay/resource a month
Free subscribers will get the weekly email with the first few resources (like today), and paid subscribers will get the whole email with footnotes and the ability to comment and contribute. The more extended essays will sometimes be free, and sometimes be for paid subscribers only.
It takes me time to write how I want to write (long form, personal narrative, big topics), and trying to come up with that kind of thing every week is never going to work for me — hence fewer, longer pieces. At the same time, I love sending out a weekly email, and I love sharing what I’m reading/thinking about in real-time — hence, weekly roundups of curated resources.
This has been what I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I haven’t because I still think I have to do more than I’m capable of, that it has to hurt, that I have to be like everyone else, that I have to optimize and maximize and deliver value, and many other things I don’t believe in at all as concepts, but (mysteriously) apply to myself as the one exception.
I’m trying to do what actually makes me happy and what feels sustainable. I hope it makes you happy and feel sustained, too. Thanks for being here.
13 Things Right Now
Composting vs. purifying, bears eating fish all day, a really good book, are we already over boundaries before we even got them, solitude as a superower, loneliness as a mental illness, engaging vs. numbing, weight health vs. weight loss, a good Netflix show.
The Brooks Falls live feed of brown bears catching fish all day is back
- ‘s book, The Bigger Picture: How Psychedelics Can Help Us Make Sense of the World, which I read in three days (a wild speed for this kind of non-fiction). Though it’s absolutely a book on psychedelics, which I think feels incredibly niche to some, I found it to be one of the best books I’ve read in a while on navigating current culture/this time in history. I couldn’t recommend it more.
Boundaries boundaries boundaries. By now, I’m assuming you know that therapy evangelist Johah Hill allegedly sent text messages to his (then- now ex-)girlfriend where he used therapy speak in an obviously controlling and abusive manner (for instance, he invoked his boundaries being crossed by her wearing of bikinis). Since, there’s been a tsunami of response by the media and everyone else — many op-eds, posts, articles (here, here, here, here, everywhere).
Most of what I’ve read on it has oriented around a theme everyone’s already been discussing for a while, which is how therapy-speak, or the invocation of therapeutic concepts into everyday conversation, is problematic. (I’ve written about this a little bit here.)
As someone who absolutely agrees that therapy speak is so ubiquitous and upon us it’s rendered certain terms meaningless and/or exhausting, this swinging to the other side of the pendulum — where we all agree therapy speak has gone too far and all resources dedicated to the establishment and upholding of boundaries are now silly and overreaching and Nedra Tawwab or Melissa Urban are painted as some reductive opportunists capitalizing on a moment — has me reacting in the opposite direction, especially after reading this piece on boundaries (which was great in places).
One of my favorite developmental models, the Loevinger scales, indicates that boundaries come only after the stage/level of conformity — typically during the level of self-awareness (where we start to question norms and develop more nuanced conceptions of ourselves) or even later, during the stage of conscientiousness. Applied singularly, a person learning the term boundaries but not actually having reached the level of maturity to embody boundaries (someone moving from conformity to conscientiousness) might do what a lot of us are doing, which is use the word excessively, incorrectly, and in a way that works to reinforce/defend less developed behaviors or stages of awareness. We learn the words before we embody them, and we embody them once we’ve had enough experience and integration. In my own personal experience, I have used words I have not yet embodied as a means to uphold, protect and excuse more immature beliefs and practices. I still do.
My point is, of course Jonah Hill used a therapeutic term to gaslight, oppress and control another individual — that’s half the history of mental illness and addiction treatment, the American medical system, and also how half of my dates with men in recovery end. It’s not a surprise that a man with that much wealth, influence and fame — even if he did that documentary on therapy — did something that fucked up. My bigger point is, perhaps the therapy-speak or boundary zeitgeist isn’t a sign that things have gone wayward, maybe it’s more of an indicator of where we are collectively are in our general development, using the fancy words before we know what they actually mean.
Related: A talk that I thoroughly enjoyed on the urgency of planetary and social change to heal the mental health crisis (to be sure, it is long and at times felt reductive and groaning, but if you’re into this kind of thing, it’s a treat).
Related: That we live in a time where there are ministers of loneliness, borax tonics, gourmet water bars, a store called Sporty and Rich [that people will covet owning things from and aspire to the image it projects!] IN THIS CLIMATE feels wild. I’ve plugged Rina’s newsletter a few times for good reason: because there is something so revelatory (and almost relieving) to see all this bullshit rounded up and stacked together, week after week.