‘I mean, I can. But it will cost $2,000 to deal with the hassle of it, I’ve been told. And sitting in hotels for two weeks in Phnom Penh? And what would I do once I got back there, anyway? I’ve been trying to find a new place to set up for a few years now. Went to Latvia to think about moving there, for example. Something different. Something new.’
Today I’m going to continue some ongoing work to edit and collate the book, Reality & Trust, so as to be able to ready it for a proper release soon. Looking at February. (Here’s a link. http://gumroad.com/kismuth)
Maybe you were curious what the impetus for this book was? If you read Kismuth and are interested, I can share a few things that have led up to the decision to publish my stories in a new e-anthology. You can ask me about that. But please note that I’m only really talking to people who are members of my e-community, these days, at Kismuth, which includes the online projects outlined here.
I’ve had to filter a lot; something that happens when you… [deleted] and continuously meet new people. You know, I don’t have fb or really many other social media accounts and I only talk to three people now on Zoom and three on a service that’s popular in Vietnam that’s called Zalo. It’s nice because Facebook doesn’t own it. Cool, right? They can’t read my messages, and tell me what they think I should buy. I detest FB. So yeah. Why so few channels and contacts? Well! I’d rather have 2 or 6 contacts I know I can count on than 4,253 or even millions like the celebrities I’ve read about who off themselves because they’re so lonely…. [deleted] wherever I go in the world. I wrote a little about that in this week’s issue of S P A C E, ‘Sneeze.’ Check it out here.
Gosh. There is so much to say. I feel like R&T is a big wave that’s come ashore after several small waves. Namely, the books I’ve already written. They feel like a miniature collection, articulating themes that somehow have prepared me, mentally, for this one. The topic is so universally relevant, now, too. I’m even thinking about reopening and re-starting my old Kindle account, for this book. I hate Amazon.
But I did manage to sell things there. Of course I resented being classified as they chose to classify me, irritating because of many reasons. Still, R&T is asking important questions in this internet and erstwhile bizarre-in-other-ways era.
How do you know what’s real, and what isn’t? Who can you trust, like really trust, and what are the factors that build trust (or break it?)
When you grow up in a household that doesn’t value emotional needs or, worse, has deeply damaged your capacity to develop healthy and warm relationships (and so many of us know what this is like to grow up with, I’m finding!), how do you find your way in the middle of uncertainty and other hard situations that life throws at you?
I’m not sure.
No one can be.
We all have to find our way, after all.
But I want to write this to share my own journey. Coping, here, where I am. In ten months’ and counting, with no end in sight. Homesick, a lot of that, lately, and retreating more than usual because it’s… [deleted].
But there were books that help me understand hard situations, before. For example, these.
In The Dive, I wrote about my choice to end a much-wanted pregnancy, due to a diagnosis that came out at 20 weeks. I mean, looking back, it was one of those moments where you had to simply exist with the difficulty of the very fact of it. Much like currently: in the pandemic I’m in a place that is far from the many homes I know (southwest Ireland, northern India, a mid-size town somewhere cool in Japan, and of course Phnom Penh which is where my nearest and dearest are. I guess there’s also North Carolina, in an estranged, distant way, something I’ve been coming to terms with where I am: Vietnam.) Do I have a home here?
[deleted] I’m lucky, that way.
In Kanishka, I talked about the loss of my childhood best friend. The name of the book is the name of the plane that a terrorist group had placed a bomb on, way back in 1985. Without the gentle nurturing of a battered reality that can come in that moment, when you have people taking care of you who know that this is important, I had to write my way out out of the confusion. The book I published, Kanishka, ran as a serial for a magazine in Northern India, and also, helped me come to understand that misunderstood realities and lack of dialogue led to Operation Blue Star which many people wrote had precipitated the retaliatory attack. Who knows what really happened; people in India I had interviewed and wanted to stay off record gave me other angles, other considerations. All of that is factored in to the writing of the book, of course, and I’m at peace with the things that I uncovered.
Writing my way out of the difficult moment of finding myself fighting, as a newlywed, in southwest Ireland, but also, discovering the enchantment of a culture in which people love to talk, tell stories, and share in selective ways (pubs, unlike in Scandinavia, the pubs are a place for people to engage meaningfully, culturally, casually… In Denmark and Finland and Sweden I found there were more like, bars, and stuff, in which people just get hammered and throw up all over the place on Fridays and Saturdays instead of just culturally hang out and talk, a little bit at a time, over time). So yeah. Ireland helped me understand the value I place now so dearly on ‘conversation’ and ‘The Third Space.’
Where can you talk about things if you don’t have a place that feels comfortable, and safe, and nonjudgmental, and that you know you can go back to, whenever you need to talk?
Harder and harder to find this, in real life now, in 2021. I’d written The Elopement based off of experiences pre-internet, really, around 2001-2. So yeah.
Here’s what I’m learning about Homesickness today…
The risk factors for homesickness fall into five categories: experience, personality, family, attitude and environment.More is known about some of these factors in adults—especially personality factors—because more homesickness research has been performed with older populations. However, a growing body of research is elucidating the etiology of homesickness in younger populations, including children at summer camp, hospitalized childrenand students.
Experience factors: Younger age; little previous experience away from home (for which age can be a proxy); little or no previous experience in the novel environment; little or no previous experience venturing out without primary caregivers.
Attitude factors: The belief that homesickness will be strong; negative first impressions and low expectations for the new environment; perceived absence of social support; high perceived demands (e.g., on academic, vocational or sports performance); great perceived distance from home
Personality factors: Insecure attachment relationship with primary caregivers; low perceived control over the timing and nature of the separation from home; anxious or depressed feelings in the months prior to the separation; low self-directedness; high harm avoidance; rigidity; a wishful-thinking coping style.
Family factors: decision control (e.g., caregivers forcing young children to spend time away from home against their wishes);
Factors which mitigate the prevalence or intensity of homesickness are essentially the inverse of the risk factors cited above. Effective coping (reviewed in the following section) also diminishes the intensity of homesickness over time. Prior to a separation, however, key protective factors can be identified. Positive adjustment to separation from home is generally associated with the following factors:
Experience factors: Older age; substantial previous experience away from home (for which age can be a proxy); previous experience in the novel environment; previous experience venturing out without primary caregivers.
Attitude factors: The belief that homesickness will be mild; positive first impressions and high expectations for the new environment; perceptions of social support; low perceived demands (e.g., on academic or vocational performance); short perceived distance from home
Personality factors: Secure attachment relationship with primary caregivers; high perceived control over the timing and nature of the separation from home; good mental health in the months prior to the separation; high self-directedness; adventure-seeking; flexibility; an instrumental coping style.
Family factors: High decision control (e.g., caregivers including a young person in the decision to spend time away from home); individuals making their own choice about military service; supportive caregiving; caregivers who express confidence and optimism about the separation (e.g., “Have a great time away. I know you’ll do great.”)
Environmental factors: Low cultural contrast (e.g., same language, similar customs, familiar food in the new environment); physical and emotional safety; few changes to familiar daily schedule; plenty of information about the new place prior to relocation; feeling welcome and accepted in the new place.
5. There’s mutual empathy. Another key quality of a healthy relationship is empathy. Empathy means trying to understand what your partner is feeling. It isn’t about trying to fix your partner’s concerns and problems, necessarily, but about being able to be there for them. If you can pay more attention to what’s going on with your partner and strive to see things through their eyes, you will find yourself getting closer over time rather than more distant.
HISTORY OF A COMMUNITY.Kismuth was the place where I started the first Cojournal, in 2014, at a time when I was just learning how to bring people together virtually for conversations. HT EM, EJ, BH, MH, CE and LRP, who were among our guests in those days. Later others joined me for themed, short-run programs online. Some of my favorites were: Slow Moment, A Nomadic Existence, and The Mirror. SELF was a real life experiential program that I delivered twice: once at a university in Palo Alto, and once at a library in Bangkok. So cool.
CHORDS ACROSS A CIRCLE. Right from the start my intention was to mix things and gather perspectives around the world, not just top-cown, hierarchical style, but N:N as SG had grokked it, and put it, so nicely. N:N. Yes. No need to see each other; we can invent ourselves through expressions. I encouraged creativity, and pen names, too. Some people didn’t ilke my email-only mechanics because of unwieldy threads; but I had no intention to add too many features or make a Slack. The space was meant to be a simple spot for connecting, and conversing, with new and different others. Without agenda or obligatin. So I stuck with simple tools like email. (Now, we have Interactive Papers.)
Making people happy. How do you do it? It’s never really easy, is it, to understand the mechanics of doing things in a way that actually resonate meaningfully, if you don’t know what a person likes, or wants, or cares about. Surely it takes time to get to know someone enough to be able to offer the kinds of small, thoughtful gifts that say, ‘I care.’ (more…)
The things in Papers, which began in May, are still happening. It’s getting good, now. This is what it is when you spend time on a thing: quality begins to feel like quality does. Comfortable. Relaxing into writing, together, here we are.
Another circle *could* happen in October, if we discover just the right mix of guests to take part in a four-way circle. Asynchronous and international, the dialogues deepen as we quest, together, into hosted, prompt-led conversations that I love.
A password protected overview is at this page; application required. To apply, go here.
I wrote about this week’s coming-up issue of S P A C E over at DK, and thought hard about what the idea of it is, why I wanted to write it, and what it means—to me, but also, to others, or at least, my understanding of what my own writing can do to illuminate a bit of one corner of one place for those who are in yet other places. Snapshot-like, and instantaneous, but in a more drawn-out way than something that is simply, presto!, cut and pasted, without taking the time to get to know a thing or person or place or style or even a language… more about that sometime… in general, my problem with most of what I read or find on the internet or in real life or on telly or on youtube is the great disappointment in seeing that things are shoved together quickly and with ‘impressive graphics’ or ‘fx’ or whatever. Generally, for me, I feel, and I might blame the Millenials for this, [deleted]… and so I hate the show they run. It lacks depth. I mean, like quality. Quality with a capital Q, like. Where is the quality, Gen Y? [deleted]
More to say, but I will save it for another time, where I feel like sharing and talking and exchanging in a way that I feel has quality—I’ve spent years looking at how to design the right space for that to *happen*, and that’s why I feel like I can talk about it now, more and more, and even more. I’m happy about this. I’ve learned a lot, all these years, and these days I get to apply what I know, in short ‘minitheaters’ and sometimes online salons. Kind of enjoying it all.
I will try. To write the things. Straight up, without the abstraction that I usually put into these notes. Because it’s simplifying it: just telling a story, as it is, without getting lost in the mindscapes and instead focusing on the actual being there part.
The look and feel; the moment’s quintessences. There are multiple ones. As if, there are instances of it, and levels, and layers, too.
But wait. This is the reflection bit that I said I would leave to the side, and get to plot and stuff, just write the daily stories, here, where I am. In Vietnam. So. Let me back up, and talk about the story as it started, when it did, three days ago. Three, only just three. My, a world can open, in the space of 72 hours.
I’ll put the feelings together, the new covid cases and the news of those and how it’s been playing out, here. Another chapter for EotR, which is set in this place where I am since it rains nicely, often, and that reminds me of West Cork.
So, it begins.
A new start.
A lovely sunny day… Một ngày nắng đẹp
And finding yourself in the world… Tìm mình trong thế giới
These are the things. Themes. Along with of course illusions, which relate quite tidily with the premise of EotR.
I’ll share the local stories that are coming into shape in a new fashion very soon, with V. Who has inspired these new beginnings. I started again, today, in a new vein and I think… it’s rather sprightly. This is different. This is new. All kinds of amazing things are starting to uncalculate, and it’s okay if they don’t make an equation again, because maybe there just aren’t any rigid ‘fixed’ quantities, anyway, and you just have to be okay with ‘uncertainty’ in the cloud, if that’s where you are, and I think… sometimes that’s where I am, but also, I forgot, I’m here, too.
My first book, The Elopement, was about running off to Ireland to get married. Kind of. I didn’t mean to run off, and I didn’t mean to get married. Lots of things happen in the course of, well, youth. Next year marks the 20-year anniversary of the events in that book’s main story, and I wanted to write a follow-up one. Its working title is End of the Rainbow..
What is End of the Rainbow about? Well… let me put it simply… Relationship, change, and discovering that after years of journeying in the joint venture of marriage what it is that there is—and isn’t—at the end of the rainbow.
Three months in the north of Finland at an artist residency program that let me sit still, quietly and largely alone, led to a set of letters I never sent. Sometimes this happens. I got to reflect, write, and write. The characters allude to one of my favorite books, The Snow Queen, by H. C. Andersen. It’s fun, light, and conversational. In the way that I am writing lately, around here.Discover the journey of Self in Other, and, of course, Other in Self.
Boss took some of the images that you’ll find inside, which are ethereal and gorgeous portraits of foliage that I collected on a walk through the Arctic Forest.’Arctic Circle,’ Boss’ poetic photo essay is included, here.
This book is the result of half a dozen trips to Việt Nam, and the conversations that emerged when I was, or wasn’t, looking, and the composite feeling of being-there, and being-there in those moments, of quality connection, deep feeling, and exchanges that came because we were all in the right mood for it.
Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn’t. This book is an exploration of feelings that come when we allow ourselves to reflect, and recall, and then, to understand, slowly at first and then with more conviction… it’s okay to let things go. Boss took the cover pic of this short eBook back in March 2019 in Hà Nội. I was there with a handful of people for a meet up I had called ‘The Book of Red’, at a cafe called MadameHương. Reflecting, that moment and mood, and this pic, just fit. It spelled it all out for me, there and then, the vibe I got when I came to this city, every single time. Nostalgia… Things taper. Things come to a close. That’s how it goes sometimes. Here’s a story of how that feels, recorded in split moments, snapshot-like, as I found my way towards this unexpected, but warm, softening.