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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

LIVED THROUGH THIS

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’re from

Photo: Chakrit Yenti/Shutterstock

“If your own parents didn’t want you, what are you doing here?” — Olivier Rousteing, Wonder Boy

We sit at her small glass kitchen table. The Scrabble board she’s had since college takes up most of it, the ceramic napkin holder with neatly folded paper napkins takes up the rest. We haven’t seen each other since before Covid and waste no time getting to our favorite activity: cutthroat, take-no-prisoners Scrabble. That no one likes to play with us is a badge of honor.

I haven’t seen my mom in real life in almost two years. Now, sitting in her house…


THIS IS US

My daughter’s absence was like a wound, raw and weeping. Everything we did together reminded us of who we had lost.

Painting by Emily Dooley

Once I got married and became a mother, I understood that my whole self wasn’t just about me anymore. My life revolved around the other members of my familial collective — my husband and my two daughters. Four was the number that felt complete.

My world was driven by this new connected identity. We did things as a family, planned holidays as a family, and made decisions for the good of the family (mainly, the children) rather than the benefit of one specific part of the whole.

And we were whole. That’s how it felt to me — whole and…


PAST IS PROLOGUE

Philosophy is the love of wisdom. But sometimes, wisdom requires that we embrace our foolishness.

Poster for Gentry Bros. Circus, circa 1920–1940. Image: Library of Congress

Philosophy is literally “the love of wisdom.” And because of this, you might think that philosophy has no time for wisdom’s opposite: foolishness. But the relationship between wisdom and foolishness is, in fact, complicated and vexed.

Throughout the history of philosophy, wisdom and foolishness have gotten tangled up in all kinds of interesting ways. Many philosophers have argued that there is a kind of wisdom in foolishness—and a kind of foolishness in what passes for wisdom.

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was a self-confessed know-nothing. Over in China, the ancient Daoist text, the Zhuangzi, counsels us that we should give up…


THIS IS US

Coping in an oppressive system did not look appealing to me

Photo: DISRUPTIVO/Unsplash

One cold rainy morning, when I was a young teenage girl heading into the spring of my life, my family and I sat in the prayer area of our living room, legs folded the way some people sit to make du’a. We had just finished observing the fajr prayer and the many words of dhikr that followed the pre-dawn ritual when my father cleared his throat and began his usual post-fajr sermons.

“Today,” he started, “I’m going to talk to you about marriage and how to build a successful Muslim home.”

We sat up, ready to listen to what we…


HUMOR

Guess which one I don’t fully understand

Illustration by the author

In The Shawshank Redemption, there’s a character named Red. He’s a prisoner who smuggles in special items for other prisoners for a price. He’s the Amazon of Shawshank. Red can get you anything you want, within reason, everything but outer space. That’s reserved for the warden.

Here’s Red’s rule: “Risk goes up, price goes up.”

In other words, if the item you want is something that could get him in trouble, like a pickax, he charges more money.

This makes sense to me, and I agree. If the risk is high, the price should be high.

Something else that makes…


The Medium Writers Challenge is now live and waiting for your entries

Human Parts has long been a place for stories that make readers feel, think, and, we hope, consider what it means to be a person in the world. If you’re reading this, maybe you’re a writer yourself — or have always wanted to try it. Well, let this be the sign you’ve been looking for!

The Medium Writers Challenge is now accepting submissions of your best personal essays on the topics of Reentry, Death, Work, and Space. Select one or more to write to, then publish your story on Medium with the relevant tag. (Just like with any post on…


This Is Us

I understood, even as a young girl, that I was much too much.

Alabama searching for shells on a barrier island, being perfect. Photo by author.

I was too wild, too exuberant, asked too many questions, and paid far too little attention. I stared out the windows of my elementary school and imagined myself hanging upside-down from the trees, staring back into the classroom. I would not hear the teacher calling my name. Gwen. Gwen! GWEN!

On the playground, I would run fast and peg balls at the boys, smacking them in the head with red rubber. I would make wild dashes to release my teammates from the jail at the end of the dodge ball court, screaming and whooping, imagining I was a cowgirl releasing…


HUMANS 101

Practical tools and tips for everyday living

Image: Okan Caliskan/Pixabay

I was 21 when I learned to meditate. After graduating from college, I moved into an ashram to study and practice the teachings of an Indian guru, Prem Rawat.

Five years later, he invited me to be a meditation instructor. After completing a three-month training program with a dozen other young people, I went on tour for four years throughout North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia, speaking at nightly meetings and helping people from all walks of life learn how to meditate.

After 49 years of practicing meditation as well as teaching, counseling, and observing others, I want to share…


THIS IS US

Grandma, why do you have so much hand sanitizer?

Photo: Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images

My great-grandmother saved Sweet ’N Low packets. Those little pink rectangles of currency now only found in very old, very sticky diners where rent is minimal and corporate interest in property nonexistent. In her lifetime I don’t think my great-grandmother ever purchased an artificial sweetener of any kind. She never needed to. There was always a healthy supply in whatever giant purse was within arm’s reach. If those ran out (they never ran out), there were old shoe boxes in cabinets serving as secondary stash. …

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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