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  • Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

  • I'm at the beach, and it's very pretty here,

  • but my vacation has been completely consumed

  • by this book, The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler,

  • which is the best book I've read in---I don't know, in years!

  • Like every now and again I'll read a book and literally feel like a spell has been cast upon me

  • that allows me to escape the prison of myself,

  • and for a little while I will not feel stuck inside my own consciousness,

  • but instead I'll feel like I have magical access to worlds outside of me,

  • and I find that feeling to be a tremendous consolation.

  • And then when the book ends, I'm left with this weird wobby-sobby feeling,

  • like I'm overwhelmed with the mysterium tremendum of having seen and having been seen.

  • And I also feel this big sadness in my chest,

  • maybe partly because I know I'll never get to read that book again for the first time,

  • but also partly because I don't know how long it'll be until I come across a novel again that properly turns me inside out.

  • Now of course, Hank, the books that leave me floored aren't always gonna be the ones that leave you floored,

  • but I do think you would love this particular book if you haven't read it already.

  • The Parable of the Sower is a hard book to summarize- it's a coming of age story,

  • it's also a dystopian novel about the collapse of the United States,

  • it's about race and class and gender and wealth,

  • and it's also about how religions form.

  • And even though it's more than 20 years old, Hank, it is terrifyingly contemporary.

  • Right, but so anyway, throughout this very page-turny, roaring adventurey novel,

  • the narrator writes short poems about her understanding of God,

  • which she defines as change.

  • I usually dislike that kind of novelistic device,

  • but Butler is such a beautiful writer that it succeeds brilliantly.

  • Like, consider this magnificent short poem, Hank:

  • "In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn."

  • I want to share just two more lines with you.

  • First, like The Great Gatsby, The Parable of the Sower begins with a fictional epigraph

  • which concludes, "Without positive obsession, there is nothing at all."

  • Hank, one of my favorite things about you is your positive obsession, AKA your nerdiness.

  • Like, you have this ability to be unironically enthusiastic and to find stuff that you can be strongly in favor of,

  • and you aren't the kind of person who tears down without building up.

  • Like when we were in high school, I felt like in order to survive I had to create ironic distance between myself and the world.

  • You know, like if you told me you liked a band, I would be like,

  • "Yeah, their old stuff was good, but now they've sold out."

  • Or if you told me you liked an author, I would tell you what was wrong with their work, etcetera.

  • But Hank, you've encouraged me to let go of that, and throughout my entire adult life, you've really been a model for positive obsession,

  • kind of even a guiding star at times, so thank you.

  • The second line is a simple one. As the narrator's life is falling apart, she writes,

  • "Kindness eases change."

  • Hank, I'm really sorry that Lemon is dying.

  • I know that she's just a dog, but she's a great dog.

  • And in the comments of your video on Friday I saw so many people whose kindness is easing this awful change.

  • It made me think about Lemon's life.

  • Like, she was a racing greyhound, which often isn't the best dog life,

  • but then when she retired, she came into your life.

  • And just as you've made Lemon's life better, she's made your life better.

  • We often imagine the world as a zero-sum game,

  • as a place where good news for someone is necessarily bad news for someone else,

  • but I believe that kindness can change that arithmetic,

  • and as evidence I would point to the love that Lemon's life has brought to you and to many.

  • The Internet can be a hard place to find kindness, maybe especially right now,

  • but I believe it's worth fighting for because I believe it makes the world bigger

  • and that it eases the hard but inevitable changes that define life.

  • Nerdfighters, thank you for your kindness.

  • Hank, I love you. I love Lemon.

  • I'll see you on Friday.

Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

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Kindness

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    Sanne Wang posted on 2016/02/22
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