things that matter and things that don’t

What matters: seagulls (screaming kiss her, kiss her, kiss her, kiss her as XTC sang) soaring on an updraft of warm air; the cold North Sea curling round your ankles; your first time in a used bookstore post-pandemic-lockdown, the rows and rows of battered pre-loved or never-loved volumes, the wood shelves and creaky floors and quirky little rooms leading labyrinthine-like one into the other, the careful perusal and selection of one or two for purchase (Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons of Cyprus for you, and almost some Graham Greene Penguin paperbacks but with your belongings so scattered across the world you can’t remember which ones you already own, alas, and almost an Orwell biography, and almost a Penguin Animal Farm, both of which you now regret leaving behind); your hands curling round a mug of hot coffee; the sound of whippoorwills in the forest of your childhood home that you strain now to hear when you watch one of the many movies and TV shows filmed in the state where you grew up; the preparing of food, chopping garlic, tearing basil, oil shimmering in the saucepan and turning sharp raw onions into something mellow and sweet and golden; the sound of waves; the sound of wind; the sound of rain; the sound of summer cicadas rising and falling (again, your home–you recorded them the last time you were there); the sound of the goat herder in the hills of Andalusia (you recorded that too); the path beneath your feet that you walk for as long and far as you can until your unsuitable shoes cause you so much pain you have to stop, turn round, go back the way you came and say to yourself, “I have to get some decent shoes.”

What doesn’t matter: algorithms, hot takes, shouty opinions, pixels, likes, unlikes, friends, unfriends, unfollows, follows, mutes, emojis, blocking, stats, blogs like this one. (Steal this book.) You can just close the door on it all, you know.


It’s a strange process, disengagement from the rage machine that is much of the internet. You worry, like your friends (and your “friends”) and family will forget you if they don’t see your dumb avatar popping up in their feed every few days making inane (or, hey, profound) remarks, or you’ll forget them; like it will matter one whit that you don’t know what everyone is angry about this week and was angry about last week; like any of it is real, like any of it matters.

You long for normal life to return so you can return to a life that is not normal. This time, you say, it will be different.

This time, you vow, I will stay clear-eyed about what does and doesn’t matter.

You touch: wood, sand, sea; breathe deep of rain and salt; you wait.

4 thoughts on “things that matter and things that don’t

  1. Wonderful. I need this. I feel like I’m inching toward another life. One day the door will open and there it will be. What am I waiting for? Uncertainty about health insurance, mainly. But inches add up to feet, to yards and miles.

    1. You are one of the people I’m missing not being on FB xx. I’ll be back someday. And yes. You’ll get there. The door will open. (This awful virus has upended everything for now…)

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