State of The Madness

How have you been?

Seriously — how have you been?

I’ve been mostly alright. At least none of my debilitating anxieties have materialized yet — in particular, it has been 834 days since I was last attacked by a dog!


What to share — what to highlight?

It’s been a while, I feel rusty.

I guess I’ll just start from the beginning, then skip the rest.

Shortly after I stopped writing here, I had the privillege to spend a couple of months walking solo in the Ukrainian Carpathians. The idea was to hike from the Polish to the Romanian border, following the route I’d planned (and failed quite miserably to execute) the year before. That should have taken only about three weeks, but because of the pandemic I decided to walk also from my home in Stryi to the beginning of the trail at the Uzhotskyi Pass, then back home from the endpoint in the village of Shepit along a parallel ridge.

It went something like this:

I’m still indulged by the fog pools in the morning:

I was surprised by how easy it was to find comfort up there. It was the end of the season, so many of the abandoned huts used by seasonal herders or berry/mushroom pickers were vacant again — not to mention the various times I was a guest of theirs, border patrol, park rangers, monasteries, villagers, weather stations, and I’m probably forgetting something.

National borders still fascinate as much as they confuse me. Walking along what used to be the border between Poland and Czechoslovakia 100 years ago made me wonder what today’s imaginary line between Ukraine and Romania might look like in another 100 years:

There’s definitely more to say. I realize I have yet to process how it all ended so abruptly just a couple of days before I’d have closed the loop back home. I’ll dig deeper into that and other aspects of that experience on another occasion, just not today.

Back from the mountains, Nastia and I split.

I’m not sure how much more I’ll eventually say about this. So, if you want to know something better ask.

I then spent another couple of weeks riding my bicycle back to Odesa. That looked something like this:

The worse roads for cars remain the best to ride on:

They wanted me to take photos of the Medzhybyzh Castle, and so I did:

They also wanted me to photograph Oksanivka, though I suspect they might not find these very useful either:

Ironically, I spent more time on the road in 2020 than I did in 2019 or in 2021.

There should now be a short and delightful paragraph piecing these fragments together and easeing you into the next part of the story — while it took me quite some time, I finally understood that’s not my responsibility.

Upon arriving in Odesa, and understanding that cross-border travel would remain inconvenient and expensive for the foreseeable future, I began scouting for something else to do, and developing a stationary lifestyle that honored the priorities and values I’d discovered on the road. I eventually settled back into tutoring math, and that has occupied the core of the time between my morning and evening rituals and away from my sacred weekends.

This has been executed imperfectly, of course — just like even on my best days on the road I might still get chaffed nipples or let my last bite of Snickers fall right next to dog poop, I’ll often mess up what should have been the most straightforward days in front of the computer.

At any rate, besides having been enough for my subsistence, some charity, a fair amount of pleasure and socializing, and eventually even saving for future endeavors, tutoring has also been unexpectedly rewarding as an experience in itself — it’s not only a good excuse to review and keep learning new math, but also a fabulous opportunity to appreciate the severe (and often damaging) limitations of thought and abstraction.

And so on — I relocated back to Lviv in 2021, cycle toured on vacation for the first time since 2016 (still fantastic), rode my first brevet since 2015, played my first game of Game of Thrones (the board game) since 2017, and who knows for what reason became interested in Formula One again for the first time since 1994.

An earlier version of this update attempted to make a more comprehensive list and develop that into a coherent story at least I might want to read and believe in, but I gave up. To those of you who might read this negatively, let’s both get used to disappointment — there’s likely more to come 😉

It will be fine.

This feels a lot like 2017, and that part of it I like — the vast open-endedness of the future ahead. Not that I can say I ever knew what laid ahead. And yet I’ve made it so far.

To be continued some time soon 🙂

See you when,

See you on the other side!

A conversation I had with a friend over the past couple of weeks put several conversations I’ve had with other friends over the past couple of years in perspective, and made me realize (finally capitulate?) that my intentions have been profoundly misunderstood.

This is my fault — my methods have been ineffective.

I’m taking a break from Not Mad Yet to listen, look for a different language, and perhaps even a different medium or format for what I have to share. I’m not abandoning the newsletter, but I don’t know when I might be back, and what it will look like when I do.

This is not signaling a deeper retreat from people either — quite the contrary! I believe I’ve spent too much time staring at the screen in front of me, and not enough time looking out the window to my right, if you know what I mean. I’m not feeling negative — maybe a little anxious and embarrassed, and otherwise curious about what this change of attitude might lead to!

If you’re interested, I’ve updated my website with a partial list of what I’ve been up to “offline” — as usual, I’ll be glad to share it if you want to know more about this decision or anything else 😉

Thank you for reading, forwarding, commenting, and donating — damn, thank you for hosting, visiting, hugging, crying, laughing, caring, playing, asking, trusting, accepting — this newsletter has been a gift, and I’m grateful to all of you who have helped me make it however you’ve felt moved to do <3

See you on the other side!

Shattered Mirror

“Now extend your arm, and look at your face in the mirror.”

The guided meditation thus proceeded . . .

“Where is your face?”

I need to shave.

“It’s there, at the far end of your arm.”

The mirror cracked.

“Do you see your face at the near end of your arm, also?”

I see two phantom noses

“Over there, I see my face — over here, I see no face.”

— as if ghosts were trying to escape my body.

“Over there, I see color, shapes, and movement — over here, just boundless space for that.”

Boundless space for that shattered image.

I wrote this for an internal 100-word contest at Scribophile. It was inspired by Douglas Harding’s mirror experiment, as taught by Richard Lang in the Waking Up App.

Featured photo: HELP! (Odesa, Winter ’20)

Thank you for reading!

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