The Attentive Tendency: when writing becomes a nootropic drug

In the 2011 film Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s character is a struggling writer who has just experienced a breakup and doesn’t know where to go next. Through a chance meeting, he begins taking a “smart drug” (nootropic) called NZT-48, which unlocks neurological pathways that show him the answers to just about everything. It made me wonder: what is my equivalent to nootropics? What’s the …

Insensitive to Self: the lost art of losing focus

Answer me this: If, at this moment, you wrap your palm around your opposite wrist, is your sense of touch focused on the palm or the wrist? On touching, or on being touched? In general, it seems that we are insensitive to our own touch. Your thighs graze each other as you walk, your elbows hit your hipbone, but 9 times out …

Every Lighted Thing: what luminescence in nature can teach us about the inner life

As of late, I’ve been obsessed with light. Northern lights . . . photography lighting . . . jellyfish aglow. . . Yesterday afternoon I went to the Grand Rapids Public Museum for an exhibit titled “Creatures of Light”, which gave me a working vocabulary of various forms of light found in nature: “Below the surface of the Caribbean Sea, …

The Eternal In-Between: when real life can’t be witnessed in real time

My favorite season is in between seasons. I notice one change at a time. From spring to summer, the greenness of grass and tree spreads like wildfire. From summer to fall, the ground loses heat one degree at a time. From fall to winter, the snow falls but doesn’t stay. From winter to spring, the cold air is punctured by …

Thought Catalogue: do you journal for closure or for discovery?

I do not keep diaries. I keep notebooks. Diaries record the outer events and encounters of our daily lives, possibly with interpretations of what happened or reflections on how we reacted. Notebooks are less linear: they are haphazard collections of phrases, questions, and observations. They reflect the inner workings of our mind, no matter our surroundings. Notebooks challenge us to leave everything open-ended …

My Alternate Life as a Surrogate: a Mother’s Day confession

There’s something you might not know about me. But first, some things I’ve expressed openly: I’ve never wanted to have children I don’t envision settling down into a relationship or marriage until I’m 50+ (so that most of my life can be spent exhausting my solitary pursuits and passions) The thing you may not know? I want to be a …

19 Writers Recap the Festival of Faith and Writing

19 Writers Recap the Festival of Faith and Writing

On April 14th–one month ago today–the biennial Festival of Faith and Writing began. Writers inspired by all faiths descended onto the Calvin College campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan for workshops, panels, plenary sessions, and readings. The Festival lasted only a few days. But during the month since, several attendees and speakers have taken the time to stop, reflect, and write about their experience, sharing …

Your Legacy Isn’t Up to You (here’s why)

Your Legacy Isn't Up to You (www.sklinsley.com)

Several years ago while camping, I had an inexplicable urge to strew pages of my notebook around the campground–to leave an anonymous, short-lived legacy. But I didn’t want to lose the writing itself, so I painstakingly highlighted my most valued entries and copied them onto a new piece of lined paper. The next morning I laid it in the middle of a …

Inventing the Moment: what dancers can teach us about the inner life

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The art of dance is the art of moving as if for the first time. Dancers move in ways we don’t see every day. Not at coffee shops, gas stations, office cubicles. Dance is not a social utility . . . . . . that is, dancers aren’t using gestures and movements for basic social communication. Instead, as with artists in general, they aim to communicate …

Disowning Our Names: a short history of two letters

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You’re probably familiar with the frequency illusion. It goes something like this: you learn a new word, or learn about a company, or meet a new person (etc.), and suddenly they seem to appear everywhere. When I decided to pair the initials for Sylas and Kaitlyn together in my logo, a strange thing happened: I started to see this letter-pairing …