the Empathy List #72: Full Of It
Life is full of surprise. Are you ok with that?
Hello friend, Liz here.
Have you ever been divebombed by a wasp? I had the strange and surprising experience this past week, while visiting an open-space with a friend and our kids: we met a wasp on a mission.
First the wasp went for my son, landing repeatedly on his sweaty neck as he swatted and screamed (seven-year-olds, by the way, are incapable of calmly waiting for an aggressive insect to lose interest in them). I smacked the wasp away from him, which only transferred the wasp to me, apparently.
I found myself sprinting around the parking lot, pursued by the tiniest enemy, always hovering a few inches from my head. Eventually, I took out my hair tie and started whipping my hair around, in hopes of smacking the wasp away, even if I couldn’t see it to do so with my hands. Then I curled my mane back into a bun, looked around, and the wasp had vanished.
I imagined the saga to be over.
But the next morning, as I took out my bun to brush my head in front of the bathroom mirror, lo and behold, there was the wasp’s dead body, desiccated and still, where it had been trapped within my hair for the rest of the day and night. I had even slept on it.
I texted the friend who’d been with me, and she said, “That is the stuff of nightmares.”
I don’t disagree. But as I considered why the wasp had gone after my son and I, I came back to the smallest detail: the wasp had been intent on landing on my and my son’s neck, the locus of our sweat and smells. Might the wasp have simply been curious? Or perhaps, on a dry and hot day, thirsty?
Of course, the wasp became to me a living metaphor.
The mystery of this life is profound and bottomless, friend. Around every corner, we meet surprises: new people, new creatures, new circumstances, a new raison d'etre around every corner. Are we open to meeting them, or do we shut ourselves away from surprise?
I hope that for you, this newsletter enlivens your own curiosity. Curiosity, I believe, is the reason God keeps such wayward creatures as humans around in God’s world. Curiosity, also, is the path toward wonder and beauty and meaning. Curiosity is the way of life.
For me, this list is a way to get me reading broadly, to find the most head-scratching and delightful and thought-provoking pieces I can, in order to share my wonder with you.
(Speaking of wonder, would you like to share my wonder about the goodwill messages on the moon? I published this essay in the Curator last month and would love to share it with you today.)
Would you tell me, what is your favorite read that I’ve picked out this week? I’d love to hear your feedback, my friends.
Thanks for reading. Warmly, Liz Charlotte Grant
If this email was forwarded to you…
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If you have thoughts to add…
Was Sodom (of Sodom and Gomorrah fame) destroyed by a meteorite, as some scientists now claim? A new study offers some compelling evidence that once, in ancient history, a fireball did strike the region, giving us a glimpse into the world of the Bible.
“Walking through the excavation of Tall el-Hammam is a fascinating, yet haunting, voyage. Puzzling findings indicate that the city was destroyed rapidly in a scorching fireball which is hard to explain. Pottery and mudbricks were melted. People were ripped limb from limb, and their bones are found smashed and scattered, buried in layers of ash, charcoal, and pulverized mudbricks. As archeologists dig through the ancient rock, they uncover a tell-tale blackened layer, where the rocks themselves tell the story of intense and widespread fires.”
Forbes | Read
Guess what? Amazon made a robot helper dog. (We finally made it to the Jetsons’ alternate reality!)
In a press release, an Amazon spokesperson said: “In testing, we’ve been humbled by the number of people who said Astro’s personality made it feel like a part of their family, and that they would miss the device in their home after it was gone.”
Slate | Read
My friend Lisa reflects on the generations her family spent on the same plot of land in Colorado. (I got to edit this beauty!)
“The summer I was ten, I woke in the mornings having dreamt of arrowheads. I grew up on a ranch in the Rockies, a place of fields and forest which were, to me, borderless. Of all this land, I loved most a small granite cave, no bigger than an apartment den. I would enter this cave through an aperture in steeply-leaning rocks, searching in the dark. I was looking for something my grandmother described when she told stories of the past. As a child, she said, she and her brothers used to find arrowheads at the foot of this cave, buried shallowly under moss and loam.”
the Curator Magazine | Read
What was it like to be a touring musician this summer? Everyone has been uneasy.
Leon Bridges, Wilco, Foo Fighters and other “road warriors” gave it a try anyway.
Pitchfork | Read
Why skincare that burns is so satisfying to the masochist inside of you. The science of pain makes us feel like we’re paying penance for our sunburnt sins…
Wired Magazine | Read
Just for Fun
Catch up on these VERY CLEAR COVID protocol updates, put out by a VERY REPUTABLE and DECISIVE source. Or, don’t, and you’ll probably know as much as the CDC about the state of our society…
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency | Read