• recognition and acceptance of limits
  • willingness to be wrong (and admit it)
  • willingness to accept being bad at things (and to enjoy them anyway)
  • motivated by goals other than “excellence” and mastery and success
  • only sometimes interested in progress
  • not taking self too seriously
  • unconcerned about being better/the best
  • not an expert
  • a dabbler
  • dilettante
  • jack of all trades, master of none
  • an abecedarian (beginner)
  • outside or on the edge or fringes of capitalist logics
  • striving to practice humility
  • not useful to capitalism
  • unable or unwilling to repeat norms properly
  • also: difficult, outdated, no-longer-new
A Daily Reminder / Sara Lynne Puotinen

H ow does it feel to face your limits, when you’re
U nable to continue ignoring that
M any others will always be faster, stronger,
I n better shape,
L ive longer,
I magine wider, deeper?
T his is not a tragedy.
Y our liberation is found in this realization.

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity / Sara Lynne Puotinen

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.

It’s not the humidity, it’s the heat.

It’s not the heat, it’s the atmospheric moisture.

It’s not the warm temperatures, it’s the moisture in the air.

It’s not the warm temperature, it’s the moisture in the air and in your hair, on your skin, in-between your toes, on the back of your neck. And it’s the stickiness between your fingers as you rub them together, trying to keep your hands relaxed. And it’s the fibers from the cottonwood seeds, the catkins, that fly into your eye or your mouth or get stuck in the sweat on your face.

It is the heat and the humidity and the effects of both on your body as you run:
the increased sweat,
the depletion of electrolytes,
the flagging energy,
the dehydration,
the pumping of blood to the skin and not to your heart or your muscles,
the sweat that can’t evaporate to cool your body,
the elevated heart rate.

It’s not the heat or the humidity it’s the dew point, which is the temperature at which water condenses. The closer the dew point is to the temp in the air, the longer the sweat will stay in your hair because the air is too saturated and your sweat can’t evaporate, which is how your body cools you down.

But, here’s the problem:
Today, as I slogged through my run, struggling to stay upright for 60 minutes, the heat wasn’t too bad, only 74—still high, but it could have been more. The humidity was a mere 37 percent. And the dew point? Only 45! The chart that I found online didn’t even bother describing a dew point so low. It started with 50-54, marking that as very comfortable running conditions. Very comfortable?!

So it’s not the heat, not the humidity, not the dew point? Could it be me? Maybe. But, today’s run was no failure of will; it was a test of fortitude. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t fly or breathe in the world or even run the entire time. But I kept moving, accepting, and not resisting, my limits.

It’s not defeat, it’s humility.

you are nobody to the trees

You are facing a mountain, walking among great trees, and you think: they are just there. They are there, they didn’t expect me, they were always there. They were there long before me and they will still be there long after me (Gros, 82-83).

You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind.

Philosophy of Walking/Gros
humility is the prize of the leaf-world

Understand from the first this certainty. Butterflies don’t write books, neither do lilies or violets. Which doesn’t mean they don’t know, in their own way, what they are. That they don’t know they are alive–that they don’t feel, that action upon which all consciousness sits, lightly or heavily. Humility is the prize of the leaf-world. Vainglory is the bane of us, the humans.

Upstream/ Mary Oliver
be difficult and useless for capitalism

To resist in place is to make oneself into a shape that cannot so easily be appropriated by a capitalist value system. To do this means refusing the frame of reference: in this case, a frame of reference in which value is determined by productivity, the strength of one’s career, and individual entrepreneurship (Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing).

The Useless Tree

The story is about a carpenter who sees a tree of impressive size and age. But the carpenter passes it right by, declaring it a “worthless tree” that has only gotten to be this old because its gnarled branches would not be good for timber. “Are you comparing me with those useful trees?” The tree points out to him that fruit trees and timber trees are regularly ravaged. Meanwhile, uselessness has been this tree’s strategy: “This is of great use to me. If I had been of some use, would I ever habe grown this large?” The tree balks at the distinction between usefulness and worth, made by a man who only sees trees as potential timber: “What’s the point of this–things condemning things? You a worthless man about to die–how do you know I’m a worthless tree?” … This formulation–the usefulness of uselessness–is typical of Zhuang Zhou…it’s an observation of a social world that is…defined by hypocrisy, ignorance, and illogic. In a society like that, a man attempting a humble and ethical life would certainly appear “backward”: for him, good would be bad, up would be down, productivity would be destructive, and indeed, uselessness would be useful.

How to Do Nothing/ Jenny Odell
Where the amateur is celebrated and beauty is never slicked up

I find delight (reading Ross Gay’s wonderful, The Book of Delights, I’m trying to be better about claiming my own quirky delights) in this mannequin and her continued (and improbable) presence at the State Fair in a space barely touched by progress where the amateur is celebrated and beauty is never slicked up. Every year, walking into the creative activities building and seeing these cracked, faded, weathered mannequins still adorned in handmade hats and coats and scarves and sweaters, looking creepy and odd, I am delighted–and not in an ironic, hipster way. Here, the ugly and old and outdated have a space. I think I’m almost able to articulate this delight, but not quite. I’ll keep working at it. Something about how these mannequins represent resistance to the relentless need (by capitalism) to constantly change things to make them better! and newer! and prettier! and, in doing so, erase/remove/destroy those things which don’t fit their vision of better/newer/prettier. I love things that are ugly and overlooked and unsettling.

from Evidence of Teaching…Exuberance

In order to embody the feminist pedagogical principle of de-centering myself as the Authority, I worked to participate with my students in confronting, negotiating, and processing new ideas and authors. One way in which I participated was by frequently choosing readings that were new to me and that I had never read before and reading them alongside of my students. In participating with my students by reading texts for the first time, I was able to experience, even if it was to much lesser degree, the excitement, scariness, wonder, and discomfort of new ideas along with them.