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Bittersweet Nostalgia (Odd Socks #5)
The folly of memory expectations, ignoring the rule of moving forward, October drawing challenge, and other stuff
Welcome to Odd Socks Issue #5!
I write here about stuff that interests me, puts a smile on my face, or could use some clarity amidst the noise. Each issue includes two original articles plus four bonus sections. Enjoy!
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An epiphany of sorts happened last week while I was planning some 2024 travels. It seems later in life we become prone to frequent reflections of the past. Some might call these fond remembrances, others merely pining for the old days and ways. I’ve concluded, while not bad to remember good times, there can be a downside to nostalgia.
Looking back over my two years of nomadic van traveling, I realize a lot of places I ventured were revisits of places enjoyed earlier in life. Memories of camping at Big Bend National Park in my late 20s, for instance, lured me to revisit there. Other places, too many to mention, followed the same pattern. Wasn’t it fantastic to go back to these places? I have to say no, and on reflection, realize they were distractions leading me away from focusing on moving forward, a philosophy to live by I’ve worked on for years. During those two years, I spend months in such places: time better spent on new experiences.
Truth is, none of these places measured up to my memories, yet amplified counting the years in between. Not that I didn’t enjoy being there, but it felt regressive, not progressive. Another way to learn from this, which I’ve adopted as my new travel philosophy, is why visit a known place when countless unfamiliar places await?
A perk of our elder years is time to reflect on a life lived. I’m not saying that’s bad, nor that I don’t enjoy those moments, but seems folly to waste travel time repeating places. I’m not including revisits with old friends, just places visited in the past.
I think one reason we revisit familiar places may be to reconnect with our youth. Maybe it’s because we don’t know why we’re unhappy now, and reconnecting with a past place of happy memories will re-energize us. It worked back then, so why not now? Two reasons doom that logic: you’re no longer that you back then, and your memory of that place will not match reality when you arrive.
The other problem with traveling from a past-places checklist is it drives the experiences by chasing checkmarks, leaving little for serendipity to grab onto. Bucket list travels makes more sense, which, by definition, are all fresh to us.
All the above is, of course, my opinion. If you enjoy travels to revisit places, go for it. I realize now for me that feels like I’m going in reverse, when it should be all about going forward.
It’s October! Besides fall colors, all-things-pumpkin-flavored, unpacking hoodies and sweaters, it’s time for drawing prompts!
I’m remiss for not mentioning this in Odd Socks #4 (timing is everything) but October offers a plethora of daily drawing challenges. Earlier I joined D.J. Coffman’s fantastic Draw or Die club, so I’m taking part this month in his October dual daily prompts: the drawing club special October prompts AND the majestic (scary? spooky?) PROMPTOBER daily challenge. Both count as entries toward some cool prizes donated by Field Notes, Blackwings, Maker’s Cabinet, and others. Full info here.
Love sketching or creating more polished artwork? Then you might enjoy these daily October drawing challenges. Entries so far range from basic doodles to finished illustrations, so doesn’t matter your skill level. Image below shows the PROMPTOBER challenges, plus a few shots of my basic (er … humble) entries so far.
If you’re into drawing or sketching, consider joining the Draw or Die Club. If not for the force-of-habit nudge, then the cool random prizes and to support his effort. The encouragement to draw daily plus the club’s everyone’s-welcomed-regardless-of-skill-level vibe makes the club worth joining.
If I had to recommend only one book to improve one’s writing, The Tao of Writing would be it.
This book is not about grammar, punctuation, plot, structure, etc. Instead, it addresses what I believe is the most important, yet least practiced writing skill: right thinking between your ears.
Though a small book (5.25" x 7", 210 pages), there’s plenty inside about connecting to and adopting the basics and principles of Tao to improve your writing and desire. Fostering a love of writing for the right reasons is “as much of us as is speaking and walking.”
This book is golden for getting your head right through the author’s work adapting the Tao into The Tao of Writing:
Writing is natural
Writing is flow
Writing is creation
Writing is detachment
Writing is discovery
Writing is change
Writing is unified yet multiplied
Writing is clarity
Writing is simplicity
Writing is personal
Writing is universal
Writing is open-ended
As you can see by the image at the right above, I’ve book-darted a lot of passages. I reread this book every few years, or more often, if floundering about what I’m doing writing-wise. Highly recommended, but it’s no longer in print. Used copies available at the Amazon link above, or Kindle ebook, or use my favorite book search tool, BookFinder.com, to locate a copy (new or used).
Nothing new this week, except to report I’m still loving Apple Music. Discovering new ways to create playlists, and exploring an interesting new (to me) feature: the app creates a Radio Station in my name! This station contains a selected merge of what I have stored on my iPhone, with the magical matching of similar songs from Apple’s vast library. No question this is the doing of that scary wonder called AI, yet it creates an amazing amalgamation of new and old songs. Cool stuff.
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