Issue #94: How My Daily Morning Walks Changed Everything
Mary Oliver had it right.
Morning Person is a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations and ideas—let’s get to it!
📚 The Three Of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams: Remember when Princess Diana said, “There were three of us in this marriage.” Her words came to mind when I began reading this novel, which centers on a similarly uncomfortably triangle: a wife, her best friend Temi, and the husband who hates the best friend. Told in three parts that present each of their perspectives, everything unravels over the course of one day. Reminded me a lot of the play “God of Carnage,” in which two sets of parents meet about their children’s playground conflict before totally losing their own shit, and Herman Koch’s The Dinner, both of which take place over one evening.
🗞️ New York Times Audio App: I’ve become obsessed with this new audio app since it launched a few weeks ago. Though it requires a New York Times subscription (a valuable investment, in my opinion!), the cost is worth the content. I’ve been listening to a handful of made-for-the-app podcasts every morning as I cook breakfast, as available: “The Headlines” (similar to the “Here’s what else you need to know today” part of '“The Daily”), “Culture: Shorts,” and my personal favorite, “Well: Shorts.” The final podcast has only released a handful episodes out, but editors share ways they “hold it together,” from a phone lockbox to repeating the phrase, “You’re an unreliable narrator” when tired and overly hard on yourself (something I’ve done countless times since hearing the advice). It also includes access to audio stories from The Atavist, which publishes one long-form article per month.
🎧 “Going Through It” Podcast, Season 4: The most recent season is all about a question I’ve explored at length on Morning Person—whether or not to have children. Host Ashley C. Ford, whose memoir Somebody’s Daughter was a bestseller earlier this year, interviews thirteen people on how they navigated the decision. I particularly enjoyed her conversations with Roxane Gay who, at 48 with a wife who is 61, is still considering parenthood, and Chasten Buttigieg’s decision to adopt with his husband, Pete. It illuminates how many layers have to be pulled back to thoughtfully answer the question: Should I have kids? By the way, this rec was brought to my attention by the new newsletter. Congrats on your Substack launch, Alisha!
P.S. Also interested in watching “Shiny Happy People” about the Duggar family, and a specific branch of Christian fundamentalism, on Prime. Have you seen it? I also finally finished Hernan Diaz’s Trust and loved it—it’s told in three parts, read if you loved “The Gilded Age” on HBO.
Before I get into this issue… an invitation to come join me in the San Juan Islands this summer! , author of Quarterlife, the bestselling book that gave me a language for understanding my own quarterlife crisis, is running a retreat in the San Juan Islands this August. I’ll be attending as assistant facilitator and cannot wait to gather in thoughtfully led groups, to explore a life of stability and meaning. If you’d like to spend four days in the PNW with us, you can sign up and read more details here! I hope to see you there!
At first, the walks felt like swallowing a pill that made me gag.
I had decided in the middle of winter that, as soon as the weather improved, I would begin every morning with a three-mile walk around my neighborhood. The idea was to get outside and moving immediately, as a buffer against a stressful semester—if I did nothing else for myself today, at least I did this! A winter-long ritual of daily Mary Oliver poems had primed me to expect contemplative strolls where I would pause in wonder at passing migratory birds.
I stalked the weather waiting for a sunny, or at the very least drizzly, break from Portland’s typical spring downpours, then set a pile of clothes on my dresser the night before a promising forecast. Fifteen minutes after my alarm went off the next morning, I was outside.
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