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Refusing to Nest in the Nesting Dolls

Once, returning from a trip abroad, Jihong brought me the gift of a Russian matryoshka set. At first glance, all you see is a wooden doll, around 7” high. It’s painted to resemble a happy peasant woman, with a city scene on her plump belly.

However, if you lift away the top half of the doll, you find a smaller matryoshka hidden inside—the peasant woman’s daughter. Open that second doll, and you find an even smaller daughter. And then another daughter. Finally, at the center, you come to a baby.

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Letter to the Mountain of Grief

Air-sucker. Heart-breaker. Life-wrecker.

Don’t take it personally, Grief, but under our breath, or deep down inside, we sometimes call you such names. We have as many names for you as for the fallen of 9/11. As for the pandemic dead. As for the people vanished in floods and wildfires. As for our cherished life partners, gone too soon. As for our precious children, ending their lives by suicide ….

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Random Notes from a River Raft

After a long, strenuous hike, you happen upon a river. A crude raft is beached on the sandy shore. Tacked to it is a paper that reads: “Take me downstream.” The handwriting strangely resembles your own.

You don’t know who made the raft, or why they’ve left it here. You don’t know how well it’s constructed. Does it even float?

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“Nuggets of Or”

See if you can figure out the significance of my title before I finish. * * * The last few weeks, I’ve been living in the closet, producing the audiobook version of Staying Power: Writings…

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“How Do You Be?”

If you’re a movie buff, as I am, you might remember Awakenings (1990). The main character, played by the late Robin Williams, is Dr. Malcolm Sayer. Though inexperienced, Sayer cares deeply about the residents in…

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