Rumination: This is how the world keeps going

Illustration of berries


Ever wonder what editors do in a publishing house? What books are they reading, what are their pet peeves, and who would they invite to dinner?

Earlier this week, we asked you to share your burning questions. In this week's letter, our editor Arin answers two, which bring to light the power of perception.

Does a perfect manuscript exist?—@chrissypoppypop

I’m reminded of something the poet and healer ArunDitha said about (im)perfection. She says that imperfection is in essence our true nature. And our nature isn’t a single, fixed ideal of being. The whole of creation is always changing, and so inevitably, we are always in transformation. Everything in this life is as it should be, in all its perceived imperfection. And that’s what perfection is, isn’t it? Perception. I think modern society has been so unforgiving of “imperfections” that we fear getting things wrong, that we let this illusion of “perfection” limit how we show up in this world.

A manuscript may come to us in various forms of germination. Sometimes it needs to be incubated, sometimes it needs a lot of watering, or maybe it just needs another voice to talk to, in the ways humans often need a listening ear, to speak ourselves into being. No matter the form of the manuscript, I think the process of editorial nourishment is to grow around perfection. To feed it well, but also to welcome the organic ways in which the manuscript will transform. 

Any therapy books to recc for languishing?—@maybemacy27

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass has been my own antidote to languishing, which The New York Times describes as an aimless sense of emptiness and stagnation. Through the teaching of plants and indigenous ways of knowing, Kimmerer shows us that all flourishing is mutual, that even in stillness, or what we perceive as inertia, life is thriving all around and within us. She made me realise that the reason I was languishing was because I was disconnected from my self and the natural world around me. Even on days where I feel the weight of inertia and gloom, I remember this lesson of growing corn, beans and squash together in a garden. Kimmerer says, “Alone, a bean is just a vine, squash an oversize leaf. Only when standing together with corn does a whole emerge which transcends the individual. The gifts of each are more fully expressed when they are nurtured together than alone. In ripe ears and swelling fruit, they counsel us that all gifts are multiplied in relationship. This is how the world keeps going.”


(From November 6, 2021)

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