When life gives you a good loop
One recent morning, on a beautiful and sun struck day, I was standing near the front porch of my little house when a large and beautiful heron flew closely over my head and landed on the creek just beyond. It flew so close to my head that I wondered if I would feel the brush of its pterodactyl-like feet as they dangled behind the big bird.
I see herons fairly frequently (lucky me); but this particular sighting brought me into an infrequent and quite magical state, which I’ve come to think of as “looping.”
When that heron flew over my head, I was immediately transported to a different time, roughly four decades earlier, when I was standing in that exact spot on a beautiful day, and a heron flew directly over my head and landed in the creek beyond.
On that long-ago day I excitedly called out to my mother, who was standing just inside the house. She raced outside onto the porch, shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight — emerging just in time to see the heron skid along its unique and watery creekside landing strip, flapping itself to a stop. I was standing, gobsmacked, in the front yard.
“It’s good luck!” I excitedly exclaimed to my mother. I’m not sure where I got the idea that herons are harbingers of good luck — but I sincerely believe it to be true.
All these years later, when it happened again, I was granted a loop.
When I have tried to explain my concept of looping to people, they will often confuse it with deja vu.
Deja vu is the eerie vaguely Frenchie feeling that you’ve experienced something before.
Like looping, Deja vu feels magical. But a loop isn’t a sensation — it is an actual experience, repeated.
Because I live in the same place where I grew up, I’ve been granted a few loops. These are mainly beautiful repetitions that seem to draw a circle around my life as a whole.
It goes like this: I see a heron. In that moment (and reliving it later), my youth connects with my elder years, and I get to travel around the loop and be young again. My mother is alive and living in her lovely little house. She is rushing out onto the porch. I excitedly tell her, “It’s good luck!” And she laughs.
As it turned out, that long-ago heron was good luck. It seems to have brought me decades of a mainly peaceful awareness of the lovely little joys I am fortunate enough to experience. It has brought me parenthood, daughterhood, and sisterhood. Good work, a loving husband, and connected friendships.
[Photo credit: Jitze Couperus]
Maybe life is like the elegant lustrous shell of a chambered nautilus — endlessly folding in on itself, looping over and over again.
We’re granted so few opportunities to take this sort of time trip; I only hope to be aware and awake enough to enjoy this affirming phenomenon — if I’m lucky enough to experience it again.
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Railey Jane Savage’s JUNK FOOD: Stuff I consume to feel better.
Boy, howdy; do I have a thing or two to say about loops. I try to think of them as “routines,” but… Like a fussy housecat, I rely on predictability. My touchstones of reliability help keep me grounded on a more-or-less even footing as I loop through my established routines. When I wake up, I know exactly what I need to do because it’s the same thing I do every morning.
But, is this healthy? Is this useful? If I were to ask Bill Murray as he’s waking up to the nine-thousandth iteration of Groundhog Day, he would probably answer with some profanity-laced version of NO. Likewise Brad Pitt or Ed Norton in between bouts of Fight Club. And if asked to comment on the advantages of routine, I imagine Crispin Glover’s Bartleby would (un/ironically) offer his pat response of, “I would prefer not to.”
Perhaps I should turn to those who relive one moment over and over to better understand varying perspectives. I could again turn to Brad to get his unintelligible take on the many facets of Snatch, or ask the faceless reporter whether adding all the stories together equals a consensus re: the last word from Citizen Kane. I’d be particularly interested in what Daniel Craig might offer when given carte [Benoit] blanche to interrogate a moment from all conceivable angles. (Who else is excited to look through the Glass Onion?) This level of analysis certainly helps when examining a specific event, but can it be used to inform the everyday routine?
If I didn’t know better I’d ask Kristen Bell for her “Good Place” take. (Spoiler alert: I do know better.)
But by eliminating the need to make choices every day—what to wear (black dress), what to eat (eggs), when to Wordle (with coffee)—it helps me feel like my brain has more space, and that I can be bold with my thoughts because I haven’t used all my energy considering small stuff. It’s true that I might wake up one day and declare, mid-loop, “This is the bad place.” But until then, I’d prefer not to.”
Railey Jane Savage is the author of A Century of Swindles, available now. You can find more of her work at raileyjane.com
LAURA LIKES: Where my friend Laura recommends great stuff!
“I live in the same place where I went to college, so I have a bit of Amy's "looping" affliction every now and again -- mostly when I am driving along in Lawrence and whatever randomly generated playlist I'm streaming pops out one of the big pop hits from 1986 or so. I'll be driving up 19th Street and suddenly Wang Chung comes out of the speakers and I'll think, "What year is this? Did I completely imagine the last 30-odd years? Am I supposed to be in Chem lab right now?"
I think it's very easy to fall into patterns no matter whether you're living in a familiar place or you move every other year, and the place I feel especially conscious of it is at the grocery store.
I tend to walk the same path every time I walk in the main store we visit. I tend to buy variations of the same thing, and I even consistently forget the same darn thing (looking at you, pickled jalapenos) most times.
A few months ago when food price inflation really got cranking, I started being very aware of what I was doing in the store. "Surely I could do this more cheaply," I thought. "Surely I could be more mindful about all of this shopping, maybe save a few bucks with minimum sacrifice, if I just thought about it differently."
So I started choosing a different route through the store. I used to hit produce first, then bakery, then pantry staples, then frivolous stuff, then cleaning supplies, then dairy, then frozen foods last. Now, I remind myself to try a different way every time. Sometimes I go through the drugstore area first, sometimes pet items, sometimes dairy, sometimes snack chips (that one turned out to be very effective, as I have 20-ish minutes to talk myself out of the Family Size Doritos).
I still tend to do frozen foods last...I mean, that's just practical. The point is, switching up that "loop" I had fallen into forces me to examine what exactly I'm buying and why, rather than just picking things up on auto-pilot. I'm saving about 15% from this, so maybe that'd work for you, too.
Even if it doesn't save a penny, it's kind of fun when you make this minor change to this basic, rote household chore -- you see with different eyes, with a different focus for a few minutes a week, just by coming at it at a different angle.”
I didn’t even know this was here! I never even saw this aisle before.
EMILY MASON’S Targeted Upsell: What the Internet wants me to buy.
As we Crate and Barrel toward the holidays, I find myself thinking about holiday traditions. Some are wonderful —Christmas trees! Twinkle lights! PIE!
But if you aren’t careful, those traditions can become…shall we say repetitive?
I guess that’s why there are so many (SO. MANY.) products available this time of year that have one goal: trying to keep traditions exciting!
With that in mind, I present to you…the Autumn Harvest Cookie Cutter set, courtesy of Williams Sonoma!
(Who else but Williams Sonoma would do this?)
Now you too will feel forced to make very fancy fall-themed cookie shapes from the comfort of your own overworked oven!
(Since, you know, there isn’t enough pressure put on making things this time of year … go for it, because now you CAN bake cookies shaped like pickup trucks full of pumpkins)
Why am I seeing this?
I make no secret of the fact I love to bake. Apparently the internet took this information and reeeeaaaaallly ran with it.
Did they sell me?
How do I put this?
Not a chance in the pumpkin-spice-themed-Hell-shaped bake-scape that these cookies crawled out of.
Look, there’s no denying these things are cute but…these cutters are way too specific. With professional-level icing, those pie-slice cookies look ahh-mazing. Without icing, or in the hands of someone who is at best terrible at icing cookies and at worst kind-of-sort-of-hates-doing-it (me, I’m talking about me), those pie slices turn into…weird poo-blobs.
I mean, heaven forbid that I might bake the fall-themed cookies, but then don’t feel like flooding a dozen slices of pumpkin pie with the perfect shade of burnt orange. I mean, what then?
I just… serve people weird lumpy triangle things!?
(Anyone I give my un-iced cookies to.)
That’s the thing about this time of year; sure it’s fun, but there is also an odd and ever-present pressure to take something familiar and give it “pizazz.” Sometimes that’s great, but it’s easy to take things a little too far, as in the case of these Autumn Harvest Cookie Cutters(TM).
Taking things too far is what the Internet is for. Unfortunately, my head and oven just don’t have room for this sort of seasonal baking fail.”
HELLO READERS! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. May your tables and your tummies groan with loops of goodness.
As always, we welcome your comments and your “hearts.” They mean so much! If you’d like to share this with anyone in your world, please do so — it’s ALWAYS FREE.
I was looped yesterday while listening to a cd (yes, I still run a disc sometimes) from an Episcopal seminary in Wisconsin who sang a hymn I have not heard in years. I sang along, remembering most of the lines, but found it hard to sing and weep at the same time.
Happy Thanksgiving! We will spend it boarding two planes in order to board a ship two days later. Aloha!
I don't know if this counts as looping, or just a wonderful bit of serendipity, but it's a good story. After college, when I was bumming around Europe, I met and fell for a cute Canadian guy. We had a couple of glorious days together and then went our separate ways. I was back in London 3 years later and I knew he received correspondence through American Express so I left him a note at the London office. He was still traveling, and just happened to be in London! We had another couple of glorious days together and again went our separate ways. Neither of us had any delusions about the relationship. It was just an interrupted romantic fling and two of my sweetest memories.