To Read: How to Practice

How to Practice by Ann Patchett | The New Yorker (3/1/21)

I wanted to get rid of my possessions, because possessions stood between me and death.

"Holding hands in the parking lot, Tavia and I swore a quiet oath: we would not do this to anyone. We would not leave the contents of our lives for someone else to sort through, because who would that mythical sorter be, anyway? My stepchildren? Her niece? Neither of us had children of our own. Could we assume that our husbands would make order out of what we left behind? According to the actuarial tables, we would outlive them.

Tavia’s father died when she and I were fifty-six years old. At any other time, we might have been able to enjoy a few more years of ignoring the fact that we, too, were going to die, but thanks to the pandemic such blithe disregard was out of the question."

And:

"This was the practice: I was starting to get rid of my possessions, at least the useless ones, because possessions stood between me and death. They didn’t protect me from death, but they created a barrier in my understanding, like layers of bubble wrap, so that instead of thinking about what was coming and the beauty that was here now I was thinking about the piles of shiny trinkets I’d accumulated. I had begun the journey of digging out."