I have a guest post on Streetlight titled “Getting Unhooked”:

There’s a line in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God that I’ve always loved. After revealing some painful family history, Nanny tells her sixteen-year-old granddaughter, “Put me down easy, Janie, Ah’m a cracked plate.” The image conveys damage, resilience, and fragility all rolled into one.

These days, we are all cracked plates. The pandemic dropped everybody on a very hard floor, as did the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign and its unsavory coda on January 6, 2021. Our public reckoning with racism, signified for many by the murder of George Floyd, has been another source of anguish. Add to that fires raging and weather patterns gone haywire. Practically every one of us is a study in hairline fractures and chipped edges. Even the most sanguine among us are at risk of coming unglued.

The pervasiveness of all these troubles has made me think about how hard it is, in general and always, to be patient and kind with each other and with ourselves. I don’t know about you, but if there’s someone or some situation I’m upset with, I do a lot of talking in my head. As the interior monologue drones on, I can’t win (or lose) the argument nor can I ever explain myself enough. The push-pull feels like a noxious wave that keeps falling back on itself without ever reaching shore.

By chance, I recently came across a book that’s helping me think through this problem: Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears (2009) by Pema Chödrön. The Buddhist nun and acclaimed author explains that the Tibetan word “shenpa” can be loosely defined as “what it feels like to get hooked—what it feels like to get stuck.” 

The rest of the essay is available here.