Writing & essays, vaccines & forests

Friday Flow #28

Hey, it’s another Friday. This week, I’ll be sharing a bit more about my vaccine experience (and why I encourage everyone to get the vaccine), my thoughts on Trump and his exit, and why I think—and of course this week’s essay.

💉 Life in the time of vaccines
🌍 A global sigh of relief
📝 There’s an essay for that
✍🏾 Archives: Writing daily
🌳 Proverb: Seasoning forests

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Let’s get to it.

💉 Life in the time of vaccines

It’s a week since I had my vaccine, with no side effects—I mean there was the sore arm that lasted two days, but that’s only to be expected with any injection. Some friends said they experienced body aches and lethargy for a couple days but I escaped that, thankfully.

Like I said to concerned loved ones, I’m too close to the reality of Covid to indulge armchair conspiracies about it. The whole situation reminds me of how people sometimes reject life-saving medicine because of possible side effects: not realising that the trade-off isn’t between having side effects or not—it’s between the side effects and their life.

A great article in the NY Times explores how much better the vaccines are than people realise—it’s totally worth sharing with your loved ones.

🌍 A global sigh of relief

Did you get the feeling this week that the entire world breathed a little easier?

I did watching reactions across my social media and talking to friends as we watched Donald Trump finally leave office. Whether we like it or not, when the US sneezes, we all catch a cold—and Trump’s tenure was a four year long national fever with global consequences.

(Yes, I know lots of people —some of them loved ones of mine—think he was good for the country and the world, or that he wasn’t as bad as he’s often made out to be. I think those people are all grievously wrong.)

And no, I’m not so naive as to think his going means things will immediately be better, nor do I (or anyone, really) expect that Biden will be some kind of messiah. But I maintain that there was something uniquely wrong about Trump as a leader, something uniquely abhorrent, and it matters that he no longer is.

It matters because leaders matter. And we would be doing ourselves a great disservice to imagine otherwise.

To quote from the beautifully evocative inauguration poem by Amanda Gorman:

We’ve learned that quiet
isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what “just” is
isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.

📝 There’s an essay for that

My essay this week is on how I have been writing essays every week. :)

And if I sound proud of myself, it’s because it’s very easy for me to get down on myself. Being proud of myself is a deliberate practice. And it’s not my output I’m proud of, really. No, I’m proud of the effort that went into making it happen. The output is only a score on a board—but it’s the actual play that’s really special.

I’m very bad at celebrating, and just this week I realised I haven’t really celebrated my writing in 2020—my sharing about it is my celebration. But I also realise there’s lots of people who could be writing far more than they have so this week’s essay is me sharing what I learned about myself while writing one essay per week for more than half of last year.

Here’s to the 50 essays in 2021 (I have decided I’ll be taking a two-week break at year’s end—plus 50 is just such a nice round number)!

Here’s how I begin:

It’s a running joke among my friends in WhatsApp groups that I have an essay for everything.

It typically goes like this. A conversation on in one of the several WhatsApp groups I’m active on goes from typical banter to serious stuff. I chime in with my own thoughts, of course, because I always have thoughts. And then I remember, oh wait, I’ve written something about this before (I’m finding I remember everything I’ve written—probably because of how much goes into it). I find the relevant essay and share the link.

And then someone says the words:

You have an essay for everything.

Commitment, meet community

Read the entire thing here. And I’d be glad if you share it!

Share this week’s essay on Twitter

✍🏾 Archives: Writing daily for a month

Speaking of regular writing, I mention in that essay that this wasn’t my first time. In January 2017—exactly 4 years ago—I wrote every day for the entire month. It was equally fun and stressful but I knew I definitely couldn’t keep it up long term. I wrote an essay about the experience at the end. Here’s an excerpt:

[T]o insist that writing daily must mean churning out watery and meaningless trash, felt about as right as insisting that anyone cooking everyday must be eating junk.

It’s definitely a possible scenario, but far from perforce. (One might argue, in fact, that the chances of daily junk are greater in someone not cooking — or writing — everyday. But let’s not go there.)

Looking at it from this angle, however (and this is the power of analogy), shows up the problem with the idea: a wrong assumption. The assumption that only the best is good enough.

Or to extend our cooking metaphor, the idea that you should only cook gourmet food.

As if to say, you haven’t cooked until you turn out a three-course meal, with the full works.

But there are six problems with that line of thinking.

Click the button to read the entire essay:

Daily writing is like daily cooking

🌳 Proverb: Seasoning forests

The proverb for this week applies to everything, really. To Covid and vaccines, to Trump—and certainly to writing.

A forest is not made in a season.

It takes time, one tree after another. But each single tree does add up.

What forests are you planting? Share them in the comments—or if you prefer, email me—and I hope this week’s essay helps you with it.

Keep planting those forests, one tree at a time, and I’ll catch you next week.

Keep well. Really.

Doc Ayomide