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5 Quick Things #306 🍎
magnanimity, third places, walks in the woods, & story soups
Yesterday morning, our oldest daughter (who’s a thousand miles away for college) texted her dad to tell him that she just smelled sawdust and it made her think of him. Kyle and I then got to wondering why smells do this—what’s up with our olfactory memory networks—why do scents lead to memories? There’s a certain mix of rose perfume and mildew that takes me straight to my grandparents’ house when I was a kid, the blend of coffee and maple syrup sends me to the 24-hour diner-style restaurant where I worked for much of the late 90s, and a concoction of exhaust and cigarette smoke instantly transports me to Russia on my first overseas trip as a fifteen-year-old (which is strange, because I’ve smelled that blend many more times in many other countries—but I guess it was the first that my brain decided to hold onto).
I know there’s a science to all this, but I’m more interested in the poetics. Scientism is a common belief in our post-Enlightenment culture, but there’s plenty that science can’t explain: what is love, how certain notes in songs give us the shivers, why Shakespeare is so good, and yes—the beauty of scents as portkeys to our past. Mere mortals are we, but simple things like our daughter’s morning text remind me that we are, indeed, so much more than the sum of our parts.
5 Quick Things ☕️
1. New episode of A Drink With a Friend! Third places are what they sound like: they’re not your home, and they’re not your workplace—they’re the third place where you hang out (think Cheers). Seth and I chat about our third places, why they matter to neighborhoods and communities, and what to do if you haven’t yet found your third place (hint: they can’t be digital).
2. In case you missed it, earlier this week I shared eleven great “family” films. And I truly mean those quotes around the word family—only one on the list could officially be called for-the-family, but in a household with teens, we find it’s more important to share good storytelling over subpar art that moralizes. What would you add?
3. It’s so easy to overlook the small things, to remember that those quotidian joys really are the big things of life…shared some beautiful and honest words about the simple joys of homeschooling adolescents: “I have decided to choose walks in the woods over extra teaching commitments. No new college thesis students; no homeschool co-ops. Just the four kids and me and whatever we come up with together. Yesterday it was Charlemagne. Today it was bubbles and ice. I do not have to force teaching into my life in order for it to happen—just being together with my children, in the world, is proving to be enough.”
4. We’re all called to greatness—but what does that mean? It definitely doesn’t mean “living a big story,” like so many gurus preach at us. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the virtue of magnanimity, so this recent episode of Godsplaining was good timing (plus, I’ll listen to anything with Fr. Pine).
5. And finally, Tolkien’s special soup recipe. I love this reflection fromfor . …Story as soup.
Currently Reading, Watching, Listening 📻
My Peppy Work playlist
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“It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien
Would you rather do the laundry or the dishes? 👕🍽
Even though there are a great many things I’d rather do than either of these tasks, I’m on Team Laundry as well. Though I do agree that water is therapeutic, there’s something about the mindless task of folding—especially while listening to something good—that makes me feel like I’ve Done a Thing.
Find this week’s poll here.
Advent Countdown: 23 Days! ✨
It’s hard to believe, but Advent is just a few weeks away. It’s the official start of the liturgical calendar, making it a “new year” of sorts… It’s quite possibly my favorite season of the entire calendar.
Here are two quick and easy things you can do now so that your future self thanks you:
Order your copy of my book, Shadow & Light: A Journey Into Advent, if you don’t yet have it. It’s the open-and-go devotional I wrote when I couldn’t find the right one for our family (I often say it’s “a devotional for people who don’t like devotionals”).
Register for the upcoming webinar called Sacred Stillness, all about Advent—I’ll be speaking, along with a few other fine folks! Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 2, from 1-3 pm EST. Should be a good one!
Quick Links 🔗
🇬🇷 Join Me in Greece: June 20-30, 2024 → we’re now at 36 participants!
Question(s) For You to Ponder… 🤔
What do I have right now that, five years ago, I only dreamed about having?
Have a great weekend,
p.s. Here’s the best album that came out when I was 16 (…I really do miss the 90s, at least musically). What’s yours?