I found a woman’s drivers license on the ground this morning while I was walking the dogs at the reservation near my house. The thoughts that ran through my mind when I was carrying the license back to my truck were something like this: Should I drive the license to this woman’s house? I had her address after all and she lived nearby. Would that seem weird or stalker-like? Probably better to mail it. But what if she needed it sooner for travel or something? It’s vacation season, after all, and this would be a horrible way to begin one (without an I.D.)
I decided I would Google her when I got home. She had a unique name so it generated several hits and I could tell the person in those hits was her. But no email address. I put her name followed by “@gmail” in Gmail Contacts, and Gmail found an associated profile. The photo in the profile matched the photo on the license. She’d changed her hairstyle, but it was the same person.
So I emailed her and told her I had her license and I would drop it in the mail, unless she needed it sooner. I gave her my full name and phone number. She called me within 30 minutes and said she would come to my house and pick it up. She sounded relieved. We talked about how she had come to drop the license on the ground: she had taken her phone out of her “stealth pack” to take a photo of a turtle and the license must have fallen out at that time. After we ended the call, she emailed me the photo of the turtle. Here it is:
Twenty minutes later, she drove up to my house and I met her in my driveway and gave her the license and she gave me a bag of fresh cherries and for about ten minutes we were just two strangers becoming less strange in front of one-another, exchanging gifts, talking about dogs, dropped licenses, and the unfair rap given to cargo shorts.
We’re in the final weeks of summer. The “dog days.” The heat makes it hard to move. It’s easy to succumb to beds and couches. Lately, I’ve felt like we’re in the “dog days” of the world. I feel disconnected from everybody despite being virtually connected to anybody. I feel tired with humans. I feel like everybody I meet is full of distrust and anger. But today, I just felt connection and gladness. I felt good to be in the right place at the right time and that I was able to help somebody.
I guess this might seem like a weird story to tell as part of my blog post for the Atticus Review. But look, online literary journals like this one and the many other great ones out there are really just spaces chock-full of human connections. They’re full of strangers becoming less strange, talking about their identities, which they sometimes leave behind in various inconvenient places while getting distracted by pretty turtles. And everybody just hoping to be in the right place at the right time for somebody else. Right? I mean, let’s just do this shit as much as possible, you guys.
This Week at the Journal
We’re going to be moving toward a schedule where every other week we publish one fiction piece, one poem or group of poems, and one nonfiction piece that we receive through our Submittable. That is what we will be doing this week. Sometimes these pieces will fall into a theme for the week, sometimes they won’t. We will still do “special issues,” but we will do them less frequently and with more time available for writers to submit something great to that particular issue. Stay tuned for special calls for submissions for those issues.
On the off weeks, we will publish other things, such as regular columns about music, books, art, or culture. We are always open for more pitches on these columns. You can send them my way here: atticusreview at gmail dot com. We are especially looking for book reviewers.
After next week, we will take the remaining two weeks of summer off, waiting out the dog days. Then we will start up full-swing on September 12th with submissions open for the fall.
In the meantime, please follow our various social media channels:
Dial Up the Magic
If you’ve been reading these, you may have noticed I like to end them with a little bit of inspiration from something I’d heard or read the previous week. This week’s comes from Joanna Macy, an author, philosopher, Buddhist scholar, and translator of Rainer Maria Rilke poems.
In a recent On Being podcast, she read a few of Rilke’s poems, including one called “The Swan.” It’s about accepting death with “regal composure” and it turned out to be a perfect one for me to hear today on what would have been my mom’s 78th birthday.
In the same podcast, Macy makes this remark as she’s talking about “becoming the world.”
You’re always asked to stretch a little more and actually we’re made for that. There’s a song that wants to sing itself through us. And we just gotta be available. Maybe the song that is to be sung through us is the most beautiful requiem for an irreplaceable planet. Or maybe it’s a song of joyous rebirth as we create a new culture that doesn’t destroy its world. But in any case there’s absolutely no excuse for making our passionate love for our world dependent on what we think of its degree of health, whether we think it’s going to go on for ever. Those are just thoughts, anyway. But this moment you’re alive. So you can just dial up the magic of that at any time.
Dial up the magic.
Have a good week. Make good things. Begin anyway.