My deer friend hanging out in a field, making an Instagram-worthy face…

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!

More housekeeping: You can subscribe to posts by email again!

If you aren’t seeing these posts in your in your email and want to, you can click right here, or scroll way down to the footer and click the orange RSS icon.

This will pop up a new page on the Follow.It site that lets you subscribe via email, via newsletter, or via RSS reader. It says you can “expect 50 stories a week”, and yikes to that, but that’s a number they made up – it would be shocking if I post more than once a week.

And if you want to catch up on / binge-read essays from me from the past couple years, they are at, the password is starlight, enjoy.

In a memory of a holy place / a memory that is a holy place

My favorite German word

My favorite German word is not one of the long, complicated ones. My favorite German word is Denkmal.

It is the word for a monument, but unlike the English word monument, which, to me, feels cold and clunky and somehow much too large, Denkmal is compact, sweet, clever, warm, maybe even kind. It’s an invitation of a word.

It means: think for a moment.

Think, for a moment.

That’s why this statue, that’s why this marker. We are here to think for a moment.

Welcome, stranger, this must be the place. This is the spot where you get to stop and think, for a moment.

In other words

In other words: Pause here for a spell.

Or: Stop and take this in.

A moment to notice what is here (or what was) before we keep moving. A moment to contemplate the significance of this space and your moment in it, just for a moment, before you go…

It’s so lovely to me that the name itself suggests what you are meant to do. Oh look, there’s a think-for-a-moment! Guess I will stop and think for a moment!

Just the most charming thing ever. It almost makes me cry because it’s so sweet.

Depends on the day, like so many things

Obviously this all comes with a major asterisk, which is that if I ever say that a specific word is my favorite word in any language, that is true, and also: I might have a different favorite word on a different day.

I just love so many words! Words, like trees, or foods, are my favorite when I am spending time with them.

Is pausing at a think-for-a-moment to think for a moment the most charming thing ever at all times? I mean, yes, of course! And also: No, it varies.

Because sometimes the most charming thing ever is the German word for mittens (shoes for your hands!), or the Arabic word for manatee (sheep of the sea!), and maybe I am easily charmed, or maybe there is simply an abundance of charm available in language. Probably both.

To forever (as a verb)

In Hebrew, the verb to memorialize, l’hantziach, means to forever someone.

And once, a long time ago, I was trying to translate a news broadcast very fast, from Hebrew into English, and couldn’t remember the word “memorialize” or even that it existed as a word.

So I tried saying, “You know, the desire to forever this person who is gone?”, and it was immediately clear that I’d landed on the wrong phrasing, but also the person I was talking to knew exactly what I meant.

There is something very appealing and compelling in forever-ing

We all want to forever someone. Or to forever a moment.

To do something, in some way, so that the person or place or experience that was-and-now-isn’t can live on in our hearts, or in a place.

Or maybe we want to forever something or put up a marker for it so that we can stop holding onto it so tightly or so that we can let the big feelings around it rest in some way. Situations vary.


It’s a beautiful desire, and I also think that to forever someone or to forever something, is much more poetic than to memorialize, which is only about the aspect of memory and remembering, and not about that very specific yearning to hold onto a moment in time even though time is always moving.

Yearning to touch something that is gone, to stay with it, or at least, to not let it be swept away from us with the swiftness of time.

Maybe the person we miss is the version of us who is gone due to that experience changing us; yearning for the before of it all.

Time is always rushing on, which is why we need the reminders.

It’s why we need to be gently told, by a word, by a pillar, by a song, by a piece of art: Think for a moment.

The pause is the interruption, and the interruption is where we notice things

The moment is for whatever it is for.

Think-for-a-moment at this think for a moment. Remember.

Pause here for a moment. Let this moment be a forever-ing of something that matters.

A breath for the moment. Remembering to exhale.



Three summers ago, I had a pretty nasty concussion, and six months later I became ill with COVID and never recovered, so my memory is a hot mess, which is why I just spent a good ten minutes trying in vain to remember the word “etymology”, and I simply could not bring it up from the recesses of my mind.

Eventually I was able to think of some google-able terms, and at some point one of them got me to the missing word.

The upside of constantly losing words is my joy at re-finding them. It’s a joyful reunion, the pleasure of being re-united with an old friend.

Ah yes, Etymology. We knew each other, once upon a time. I smile happily at Etymology. Hello, friend. I forgot your name but I did not forget you.

The Etymology of Etymology

Here you go:

late Middle English: from Old French ethimologie, via Latin from Greek etumologia, from etumon, neuter singular of etumos ‘true’.

Logos is word, thought, principle or speech.

Etymology is about getting at the TRUTH of the word.

And while I think the phrase “the truth of the word” could carry a religious connotation which is not at all what I’m going for or getting at here, if you put that aside, there is something very compelling to me about this.

As if there is a kernel of truth hidden within anything, and if we are patient, and shine some light, approach with curiosity and investigative rigor, we will arrive at something.

We will arrive at something

And then we can pause there, and think for a moment.

Each word is a monument of its own.

A truth-kernel that will reveal itself when we pause and think for a moment, when we let ourselves sit in the vicinity of a memory.


The word memorial is related to the word memory: remember, something that serves as a reminder.

And the word monument, also from Latin, comes from the word monere, which means to remind, or to warn. Which can be interpreted as “Let us learn from what happened”. Or may this memory give us clarity about how we want to continue.

The word Denkmal is also related to memory in spirit, or it’s at least memory-adjacent, because when you pause to think, what you are thinking about is a form of remembering-and-forever-ing.

Or a form of releasing and making peace, if that’s where you need to focus your remembering.

Memory is tricky, and each time we revisit a story, the story is a little different. Telling the story changes the story. And also stories can remind us about what is important to us, they can bring us back to ourselves.


A midrash is a commentary on Hebrew biblical text, they are the stories about the stories, because what is a story without friends in the form of more stories?

Here is a wonderful paragraph from Reba Carmel in Currents:

”In its simplest and perhaps most basic meaning, the word “midrash” is derived from the Hebrew root drash — study, inquire, seek, explain, investigate, interpret. The sheer number of verbs that actively describe the process of creating midrash speaks not to uncertainty but to vibrancy.”

If you know any Arabic, then you see the similarity to madrasa (school), mudaris (teacher), and other words that share this same root.

Here is a midrash about Alzheimer’s, for example

The midrash says that if you encounter an elderly person and they have forgotten Torah because they have a cognitive disorder or whatever form of memory loss, you treat this person like an Aron Kodesh that currently doesn’t have a scroll in it.

The Aron Kodesh is the holy ark in the synagogue that holds the Torah scrolls when they are not being read. And just because the holy ark doesn’t have a scroll in it in a particular moment, that doesn’t make it less holy.

It’s still a holy place without the words that were there. It’s still the place that exists to hold them.

And so, to treat this person who has forgotten everything important to them as the empty ark means that you treasure and honor this person. The container of past wisdom is as important and special as the wisdom itself.

Reminders about reminders

I try to regularly remind myself about this midrash, in part because I cannot hold anything in my head consistently, and in part because of another situation, and in part because I am trying to forever some things for myself.

The container itself is holy. Or, as Abraham Joshua Heschel put it:

“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”

Just to be, just to live. Holy and a blessing. In this container. Think-for-a-moment on that.

Two things (pick a card, any card)

My dad has been telling me lately each time we talk that he wants to do two things before he dies.

Each time I ask what they are, and each time he has already forgotten them and can’t tell me.

I hope that he is joyfully reunited with one or both of them and feels as good about that as I do when I remember a word, like etymology, or when I remember what I was on my way to do after half an hour of pacing in my tiny, tiny house.

But maybe any two things are good. Pick a card, any card. Remember something and find some joy in the remembering. Let something go, and find some joy in the letting go.

A SMOPL, for example

I have written quite a bit about my practice of SMOPL, something my brother and I came up with called Something Meaningful On A Personal Level.

For when you need a ritual, any ritual, and there isn’t a pillar there or a think-for-a-moment, and so you have to come up with your own moment.

A forest in imagination

Someone sent me this piece about a COVID memorial in Scotland that invites people to interact with all we have lost.

There are many beautiful clues for me in this piece, but the one that stands out the most is this: “Grief is a heightened state which must be respected.”

There is also something bittersweet and maybe even bitter-funny to me about a memorial to what we have lost from COVID, when one of the primary things I have lost is memory itself, and my mind, at least in the way it used to work.

A remembering of my memory, a memorializing of my not-remembering.

Even though I can’t go to Scotland, I can visit the trees there in my mind, and I can hug the trees here in Southern New Mexico, and all trees are connected, and the trees can remember too.

What’s important to us? What’s important to you?

For me: small joys, small rituals, porch breaths, making gluten-free flour tortillas in my tiny kitchen, hanging out with a deer who likes to visit.

Also sharing my writing and my love of words here. Forever learning new words even while knowing that I will forget them.

There is a buried bottle of wine somewhere that I remember. I don’t mind that I will never go to retrieve it. I like being reunited with the memory when it comes up to visit.

Reminding myself to ask

I want to keep reminding myself of what is important, reminding myself to pause and think-for-a-moment, to pause and check in. To ask the questions.

What’s important to me? What do I need right now? What would help?

I want to remember that it’s okay if the answers about what is important shift and change, or if an answer slips from my grasp.

It’s the pausing and asking more than the answer. Asking is a declaration of life and hope. Maybe we’ll get to a truth-kernel, or maybe we just let the question float out into the world and trust that it’s going where it’s needed.

(Thank you for being part of the place I go to ask questions…)

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