A Universe Observed

(originally published on Substack)

“Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we're quoting.”

In the brief but explosive history of the Internet, platform fatigue has made itself a recurring theme. I started blogging when I was fourteen, back when Wordpress.com seemed like the cool kid on the block but a lot of people still used Blogger. And Wordpress was delightful, but unfortunately as a terminally online person, all my Twitter mutuals are now on Substack, and I too have been wooed by the clean, minimal aesthetic. (50 years ago existence had foisted none of these concepts upon any of us and probably things were a lot quieter and more peaceful for it. But c’est la vie!)

If you are reading this, I can only assume you are someone I know, or at the very least someone who knows me. How else would you have stumbled across this corner of the internet I’ve only just begun to inhabit? I do hope you will forgive the mess. I have many boxes and thoughts and questions that have yet to be brought in and set in their proper place, so for now it is just the two of us.

I did unpack some boxes of tea and a few of the mugs that haven’t been chipped in the shuffle of moving. The kettle is on the stove, rumbling as it steadies itself to let forth the ghostly wail that announces the time has come to take a break and thoughtfully infuse. For such an unnerving sound, it has a lot of pleasant connotations. Strange, isn’t it?

There’s a great deal of moving to do in your early 20’s. Some of us end up moving more than others. I am far from the only one to find it an exhausting endeavor, but it is exciting to find yourself in a new place, so long as you also find places that feel like home. They don’t have to be physical places—sometimes it’s a person or a song or a recipe passed down on a weathered index card. But often they are.

Sometimes home is the concept of a place with many variations, like a cozy bookstore or a park with a swing set. Or a particular cobblestone sidewalk.

This? Well, this is perhaps part resting place and part workspace. I spend a lot of time up here, watching everything down below. Watching what I’m doing certainly when I’m working. The flutter of the keys and weight of the pedals, the split-second swoop of dashing my hand up to pull the bombarde for the last verse of the hymn. But when all is quiet and it’s just me and a couple of people praying in the church below, few spaces feel as reflective as this one.

In a universe distinctly observed, it seems a prayer to simply be. To inhabit a space that is only itself and nothing more. I almost feel I desecrate it whenever I check my phone between services. It is the liminal space between the mundane and the sacred for me, as someone whose work touches both spheres. Where do those planes interact for you? Where do you find God walking the nomad’s walk in the busy street outside?

Come then, let’s step into my office so we don’t bother the folks downstairs. Earl Grey or mint?