Collections 9: on decay

published5 months ago
2 min read

Hi. I'm so glad you're here. This week I've been thinking about the processes of decay and decomposition.

a photo of a slate rock, and two orange cosmos sit on a desk.

1. This rock from a pebble/rock beach in Maine makes me think about time, and the millions of years and waves it must have taken for so many different kinds of stones to be worn smooth in this way. (I'm not a geologist so pardon any inaccuracies in time scales here.) I love that every rock is a record of its own slow erosion/decay.

2. This cosmos from the garden - we've been away for two weeks and came back to all the flowers blooming. (I like to leave flowers for pollinators, so I try to plant a lot, so that we can share them with our animal and insect neighbors.) I've been thinking a lot about how we often see decay as a kind of rest, of falling apart, of letting go. It makes sense, since as humans we most often see decay as the end of a cycle, the result of neglect, or lack of action - not harvesting something and letting it rot is a good example. But recently, in this neither early-nor-mid part of summer, I've been coming across lots of decaying things out by the river, and I'm struck by how active a process the breaking down of dead things is. Microbes, flies, beetles, bacteria - all kinds of not-visible-to-us forces doing the busy work of breaking down. Often we compare our work to the work of the plants - blooming, seed planting, root growing - but I wonder what happens if we think about the ways our work might be around breaking something down?

3. Another cosmos, from a stalk that snapped off in a thunderstorm last week, and that revived in a glass of water for a few days. I love that every flower decays/falls apart differently, even with the same underlying structure as every other cosmos.

And I wonder, what's falling apart or being broken down in your life these days? Is it happening more at rock-time or microbe-time? How does it feel?

(A lot of this week's pondering has been nurtured by some beautiful work happening in two communities I'm a part of: Interwork, a 3-month deep dive into a more collective, anticapitalist undersanding of purpose, and the Nest, an online learning community of Jen Lemen's, where we practice the kind of attachment repair and learning from nature that has informed so much of my work. I'd be so happy to chat more about both of those groups if you're interested in or longing for a more communal space to do some deeper work.)

Sending you love from the river,


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