blue sky with dramatic zigzag cloud patterns

When I remember to look up, I get to enjoy this high magic sky with all its shifting cloud art

Announcement & reminder about the ebook!

If you’ve already given to Barrington’s Discretionary last year or this year, you should have received my ebook (by email) on how I approach and plan my year, how I think about time and am in relationship with time. The feedback on this has been lovely and heartwarming, thank you!

And if you gave to Barrington but didn’t get it, I am so sorry if anyone fell through the cracks, please email me at my name at this website, Havi AT fluent self DOT com, with any emoji, and I will send it.

You can still obtain a copy for now, as a thank you when you give any sum to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, and I hope you enjoy and find lots of clues in there!

Scintillations of light / Backwards and forwards in time

Backwards in time

I have gone backwards in time, in the very specific sense of scrolling, all the way back, to the very first episode of a podcast that began in 2018, back then, before.

Before the everything and the all of it. Simpler times but we did not know that, because it felt like extremely complicated times, at the time.

The podcast is called Obscure, it’s by Michael Ian Black, and the first season begins with him reading the book Jude The Obscure, by Thomas Hardy, which I have never read and neither had he, and apparently neither have most people, which seems appropriate.

Every time I tell someone that this is what I’m listening to, they say huh I never read that, and yes, that’s the point, you’re in good company, the time is now. Or later!

Though really more

That’s the concept! And it’s…what it sounds like, more or less, though really more.

Michael Ian Black reads the book out loud, which is a delight. I forgot how much I enjoy being read to. And he comments on the book as he goes.

He talks about obscurity, in general, as a theme, and does some voices.

There are detours. I love detours.

*There are also ads, and I do not love ads, but I fast-forward through them (do people still say that? I come from the analog times, speaking of the past), and obviously I understand that everyone needs to find a way to make money and stay alive in this bizarre trap we are all in, so: just letting you know.

Back to the detours, as a concept, and as a way of path-finding.

I love detours

So far I have recommended this podcast to at least seven people, though now more since I am telling you about it here, and what I tell them is that this show is more thrilling than it sounds when you describe it

At this point, I have listened to six episodes and am enthralled. Can’t stop thinking about it, which is extra surprising, because this is the exact category of you could never have imagined you needed this but you do.

Also it is ADHD heaven, a delight of rabbit holes.

He follows threads where they take him, and it is fun to go on small adventures with someone, and then, whether I agree with his conclusions or not, I invariably find my own threads to follow either way…

Who disliked the sight of changes

My first clue showed up, entirely unexpectedly, right at the beginning, in the second paragraph of Jude the Obscure.

“The rector had gone away for the day, being a man who disliked the sight of changes. He did not mean to return till the evening, when the new school-teacher would have arrived and settled in, and everything would be smooth again.”

Who knew that a book written in 1894 could sum up the current situations so immediately, so concisely, with such elegant precision.

The sight of

My hope in putting on the podcast was that it could potentially take my mind off of a stressful situation I find myself in, and of course it brought me right back there.

A family member spent the month of January in urgent care, which was terrifying and anxiety-inducing; I couldn’t be there because my own health issues make travel impossible.

Now back home, rattled by the experience, they have embarked on the process of downsizing, and somehow this has turned into me being in charge of downsizing from afar.

And what I keep trying to explain to everyone involved is that this is a person who is positively allergic to change.

Ask Thomas Hardy

Except people do not take me seriously when I say this; everyone says something like, yes, yes, who isn’t, as if this is simply a universal way of being.

And, to be fair, it is. To some extent.

But there are people and there are people, and some people have a harder time with change than the normal amount of having a hard time with change, even though everyone around me is pretending this isn’t true.

It is true. Ask Thomas Hardy.

They can’t bear to be there to observe it

As Thomas Hardy himself understood and emphasized in the second paragraph of this serialized story, from all the way back in 1894, speaking of going back into time, there are people in this world who dislike the sight of changes more than your average person dislikes the sight of changes.

In fact, there are people for whom the sight of change is so unbearable that they simply cannot be present for it, they don’t even want to be around it, which is different than just not liking when things change.

There are people who don’t like change in the way that no one likes change (though personally, sometimes I crave it and at other times resist it), and there are people like the rector who simply have to remove themselves from the situation, because it is too distressing.

They will return when everything is smooth again, per Thomas Hardy.

Everything changes

And we react how we react.

Some people need more time to adjust. Some people need to physically remove themselves from what’s happening, and come back later when everything is smooth again, though now of course we find ourselves in such especially un-smooth times, so who knows when that will be.

But I found it comforting that the rector is this sort of person, and even more comforting that Thomas Hardy acknowledged this, because, as I said, I seem to be spending a lot of my time trying to convince people that their friend (my relative) has more difficulty with changes than the rest of us.

And they seem to think that I don’t understand how change is hard for all of us. Which it is.

It really is

Changes, whether the kind we might be able to anticipate, or the kind that take us entirely by surprise, are challenging and often extremely uncomfortable, I’m definitely not arguing that.

I’m right here still reeling from the changes in my own life brought on from the pandemic, and from my concussion, which was followed by Long Covid.

In fact, I’m still reeling from changes that barreled into my life over twelve years ago, when my beloved mentor announced a lawsuit against me, still reeling from a relationship-shattering revelation in 2017..


I find myself still doubled over in pain from wounds that feel agonizingly of the moment even as the calendar tells me that much time has passed, and continues to do so.

So I would never argue that change is not hard or scary; if anything I absolutely understand how thoroughly it can confound, how devastating and debilitating it can be.

Also, if you are not neurotypical, and you, like me, exist mostly outside of time, the then and the now can get extra mixed up emotionally, I’m sure there’s a better way of explaining that but I can’t.

Back to the rector

It’s just that some people are the rector, and this person in my life is one of them; he would prefer to not be around for change while it is happening, or acknowledge it in any way.

And in this case he cannot remove himself from the situation that is changing, because it is his life/body/mind/home, and they are all changing at once.

Trying to be with that, and be patient with all aspects of that, even though I too, like the rector, would prefer to remove myself from this whole project entirely, only to return once things have somehow, mysteriously, smoothed themselves.


What would it be like for things to smooth themselves, to smooth themselves along, smooth themselves out, do the work of soothing-and-smoothing without me.

I am dropping this into the wishing cauldron, as another form of It Solves Itself.

Though also there is something of a contradiction here, for is it not the job of the rector to be the one in charge of smoothing situations that require smoothing?

Let’s call a wise friend (the internet)

I will be honest with you, I am not entirely sure what a rector is, a word I mainly know from Agatha Christie mystery novels, so I am looking it up.

According to google, the rector is the priest in charge of a parish, the ecclesiastical authority of the parish…

So, yes, a spiritual leader, the one who should realistically be modeling presence in this situation and instead chooses absence? Is that a dig at the rector for being bad at rectoring? I do not know.

I am sitting with this too

Obviously I am not going to judge the rector for doing exactly what I would want to do in this situation.

And of course, to every thing there is a season, which is from Kohelet, and I never remember how to say that in English but I looked that up too, and it’s Ecclesiastes.

A time for being present with the changing changes, and a time for recusing yourself until the situation smooths itself while you are away.

That’s not in the text, not in Jude the Obscure and not in Kohelet, but you know what I mean.

Beneath the skies

To all things a season, and a time to every purpose (purpose? object?) beneath the skies. There you go. That’s my overly-wordy translation of the Hebrew, though not as overly-wordy as it could be.

I don’t love how under heaven sounds, which is how it’s usually translated — now that seems overly wordy, not to the point. So much drama.

It’s trying too hard to be poetic, while the actual words are beautiful in part because they are so simple.

The point is

The point is, back to the rector in Jude the Obscure, and to the person who needs to empty out a house after fifty two years of accumulating belongings…

There is a time for being present with the hard thing that is hard, and there is a time for elegantly disappearing until the situation smooths itself out, and who am I to say which one is called for right now.

Sometimes both are the practice, though maybe not at the same time, that could be tricky. Though yes, sometimes we can bring some presence to our escapism, or some relief to the practice of presence.

All I know is that what always helps (for me) is to be patient and pay attention. It helps if I remember to ask for or otherwise channel some Loving Clarity.

Add Compassion & Stir.

People vary!

People vary.

If you know you are someone who dislikes the sight of changes, in Hardy’s words, then it might help to just make room for that.

Or if you welcome changes but feel trepidation about how to go about that, okay, that’s the season we are in. Change is happening, and we get to feel about it however we feel about it.

Rainy season

There’s another really great podcast that you might already listen to if you speak Hebrew.

It’s called Shir Echad (One Song), and it’s a highly-produced and impressively well-researched show, and I cry at least three times per episode, though I have kind of been going through a lot lately so your crying mileage may vary.

Anyway, each week they deep-dive into one song, and it’s always fascinating.

This week they covered Geshem Beito (Rain In Its Time) by Ruthi Navon, from 1974, a song I have heard dozens and dozens of times in my life, and never really had any thoughts about it that I can recall.

Other than the thought that Ruthi Navon can SING. What a voice, what a talent.

Not about rain

They shared a marvelous clip of Talma Alyagon-Rose, who wrote the text to the song, laughing somewhat bitterly about how radio stations always play her song when it rains.

She was like, listen, it’s not a song about rain.

And it’s not.

About time

And it’s not; it’s a song about how war steals everything good in life, how it takes away the time that should be given to experiencing love.

It’s also a heartfelt prayer for the rain to be exactly what it needs to be as it comes; a blessing for the crops, a light touch on your lover’s face given to them in your name while you await their return…

It relates again to this seasonality, the rain comes it its season, and sometimes it’s miserable and sometimes it is what is needed, but either way, here it is, so let’s ask it to be a messenger of sweetness.

Sad and not sad

It was a sad episode and very moving episode, and also funny in parts.

I was astonished to learn that Ruthi Navon nailed it on the first take, so much so that one of the producers described it as if she was almost rewriting the song while singing it, through her musical improvisations, inventing a new song that was even better through revealing what no one knew could be there.

The song is on youtube if you want to listen.


Mainly I was fascinated by listening to someone describe their writing process and having the meaning dawn on them later.

This is the writing process of someone who writes entirely in metaphor but only much later realizes what she was writing about.

This is extra funny when you consider that she has a philosophy degree, and extra funny to me when I consider that I also do this, pretty much constantly, often unintentionally and sometimes even very intentionally, when I play with proxies…

Sometimes I write about something and even at the time I realize I’m writing about something else, but then later I go back to it and realize that what I thought I was hiding from myself three layers deep, is actually just a clue about what was hiding seven layers deep.

Welcoming frivolity

This is why it’s so useful to write about (or do art about, or go for a walk about, etc) something you think you don’t care about at all, because it can reveal so much about what is truly important to your heart.

I am a huge fan of journaling about frivolous topics, the more frivolous the better.

Today for example, I am writing about a podcast I listened to, and the other day I journaled for an hour about muffins, because I had to process something about betrayal and despair.

Bonus: I found a great muffin recipe.

The power in playing at the edges

There is so much freedom in not directly addressing the issue, so much freedom, so much ability to play and reveal new information, and maybe also there will be muffins.

No need to force yourself to jump into the deep end of the scary thing. We can just wander around the garden path and do some reconnaissance, appreciate the view, possibly have a muffin.

This is why sometimes it is useful to be the rector, especially if you do this intentionally.

Go somewhere else, see what you notice. Last week we talked about clue walks, and removing yourself from a situation can be a form of Go Forth And Bring Back Observations…


On Sunday, I surprised myself by having a good day for the first time in ?????; I remember thinking to myself, today was such a lovely day for me, and then reveling in the newness of that.

I tried and was unable to remember the last time I’d had a thought like that, or if I did then it was a lovely day despite all the challenges, but this day was just lovely, seemingly for no real reason.

Then the next day I went careening into the Pits Of Despair, also for no real or apparent reason.

I received a decision that I thought would lighten my stress, and it did not. The things that had brought joy the day before were no longer bringing joy. It happens.

Remembering what helps, even when it doesn’t

Even when I couldn’t make my way out of the Pits of Despair, I was able to hold onto my rope ladder, is it woven of the wisdom of having been here before?

For example…

  • a surprise lovely day can come again even if right now I don’t believe it can, the science shows it can
  • everything passes, including the big despair
  • even if the things that help aren’t helping yet, that doesn’t mean their cumulative effect won’t kick in later
  • I can skip stones or go for a walk with the me who is past the pits and knows what I need
  • lighting a candle for all the Bravery & Tenacity powers
  • remembering that hope in the face of hopelessness is revolutionary
  • it’s all neutral, even when it’s not
  • I can find beauty in the unexpected places, I’ve done it before

And somehow, by evening, I felt mostly better again even though I didn’t think I would.

Beauty in unexpected places

Okay, check out this line from Chapter Four of Jude the Obscure:

…a watch-chain that danced madly and threw around scintillations of sky-light as its owner swung along upon a pair of thin legs and noiseless boots.

Scintillations of sky-light.


Isn’t that a striking image?

Isn’t that a gorgeous combination of sounds and words?

Scintillations of sky-light, I love this so much.

I am reminded of hope-sparks and hope-glimmers, which we all need in these scary and heart-wrenching times.

Now also thinking of a prism which refracts light and casts it on the walls where we perceive it as a rainbow…

Glimmer-related research

You will not be surprised to learn that I went down a rabbit hole about scintillation of light, a scientific concept, the light emitted when ionizing radiation is the source of the energy.

I also learned that the first device which used a scintillator was built in 1903, almost ten years after Thomas Hardy wrote about these scintillations of sky-light.

What a cool word!

Scintillations of

Scintillation is about brilliance and sparks, glinting and glittering, reacting to the light, a brightness that sparkles.

If I imagine that I am following a path and there are milestones, what if these are gem stones that emit scintillations of light, glimmer-cairns, star-markers…

The light was already there, I just needed to perceive it bouncing off of these faceted surfaces and find the beauty again, the High Magic in the ordinary, and the reminder that the pits are not separate from the path.

I didn’t get lost at all. I went in to come back out, and to remember.


The sky outside my door was especially glorious the other day and I sent a picture of it to my friend who said, “We are in magic!!! Oh, that I could only remember that every moment!!”

And that’s such a summing up of the human experience, just constant remembering (if we’re lucky), and forgetting, and then re-remembering (if we’re lucky).

If we’re lucky

Sometimes I think most of what I do is just to help me slow down enough to remember more, but for sure the forgetting is part of the remembering, and therefore part of the treasure even though it feels like not-treasure.

And of course the very next day, there I was, back in the pits of despair, having forgotten again.

All that to say that many things can be true and taking place at once, the magic and the forgetting and the excavating and the waiting.

Maps of

If you ever watched the show Prison Break, then you know about the thrilling feeling of:
“You’ve seen the plans?”
“Even better, I designed the plans…”

I like to regularly call on all related superpowers of Even Better, I Designed The Plans.

Of course my plan is pretty much generally the same: find beauty in the unexpected places (or the very expected places, like outside my door), do the things that help, remember that every crisis offers up its own solutions.

I don’t have to like any of it, but eventually there will be something useful here too, from the crisis…

There will be

There will be something useful here, there will be some unanticipated treasure.

There will be a scintillation of light, there will be hope-sparks and hope-glimmers, the rain is here in its time, I will remember my way back, I will remember something that helps…

Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards, sometimes you have to take what feels like the long way. What an adventure!

A time for

There is a time or times that ask us to be brave and to be present when we can be present, as much as we can, and to reach out and extend a hand if we can.

And there are times when we might have to remove ourselves from a situation for a bit and let things smooth themselves out while we adjust, or while we wander and look for clues.


I gave my fifty minute hour to thinking about a podcast I like, and got some clues about why I might be feeling what I’m feeling.

Another thing I noticed was that sometimes I use a podcast as a way of puttering towards something, and that something often ends up being the creative process, or a therapeutic process or both.

Like the rector, I removed myself from the situation, and then that invited me to do some clearing of the decks, slowly but surely. Maybe the situation hasn’t smoothed itself out yet, but some adjusting happened.

Also thinking about how It Takes As Long As It Takes, but what if that’s a good thing or what if I can be neutral about it…

The meeting of the sky appreciation club

Looking up: things are looking up, and so am I.

Doing some more of whatever helps most, sometimes going backwards on purpose, a breath and another breath, staying oriented towards pleasure…

There’s a time for that too, out here, beneath the skies.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, or anything that helped or anything on your mind. I am lighting a candle for all of it.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.

Whatever comes to mind (come to heart?), let’s support each other’s hope-sparks and wishes…

Thank you to everyone who reads, porch breaths, the winding path, the many clues that land when they land, receptivity, keeping on keeping on.

New ebook alert!!!

Aka fun bonus material on how I relate to time and map out my quarters for the year.

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary this week (see below) will get this by email as a pdf!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Between Long Covid and traumatic brain injury recovery, things are slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

The Fluent Self