Friday, December 31, 2010


A fat December fly, awakened by today's 50-degree temperatures, made weird shadows around the light fixture as I finished up my yoga routine, getting my back and sacrum  lined up for standing around at tonight's new year celebration. I've been making resolutions today. Nothing momentous--quilt the quilt tops, get out more, try something new, keep the weight off--pretty much the things that are right there in front of me anyway, making decisions like that fly buzzing around doing what flies do.

David Brooks in this morning's New York Times writes about a book by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly titled “All Things Shining” that proposes that we moderns find life's meaning in "whooshes" or "whooshing moments," the feelings of insight or exhilaration that accompany peak experiences--sporting events, civil rights speeches, whatever greatness and transcendence we can hitch our ponies to. Many of the commenters found this to be meaningless. There's not rigor of thought involved, no coherence required, just an emotional high. And as Brooks points out, such highs can come from speeches by nationalist dictators as well as tellers of more complicated, nuanced truths. Heck, complicated truths probably don't score high on the whoosh scale.

I wanted to leave a comment myself, but the comments were closed by the time I read the piece. (I did enjoy the comment that closed with "How's that navel, David?") One thing I thought was missing was the acknowledgment that many of life's whooshier moments don't come out of sports or election victories or from encounters with great works of art or great men and women. They come from encounters with sorrow  and grief, with violence and despair. I've watched many people meet serious trouble in the past year and those are the places where meaningless and meaning meet, where the boundaries between our world and God's kingdom are just vapors, where insight and peace come from being able to despair and have faith both at once.

I ate a piece of Lebkuchen on my way to the computer--a substantial chunk of cookie, sweeter because of the spices, more substantial in the mouth because of the almonds. Whoosh.