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

Nature

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

How an encounter with a deer brought me a moment of peace

A deer standing in a field of dry grass.
A deer standing in a field of dry grass.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
— Mary Oliver

I love when it rains in L.A.

It washes away the smog, and the air smells fresh and clean again.

Everyone stays inside, so there’s a calm that settles over the city, like time has stopped for a moment and you can finally breathe.

I went on a hike just as the rain had dissipated. Bundling up in a hoodie, jacket, scarf, and…


This Is Us

Our bodies know when we’ve arrived somewhere new

A tree-lined street with a rectangular multistory building in the background.
A tree-lined street with a rectangular multistory building in the background.

The first thing I felt was the heat.

Suitcase in my right hand, I stepped out of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport only to be met by an angry sun intent on singeing my skin with licks of heat my body was completely unprepared for. It is by no means cold in my Lagos (yes Lagos is mine, at least it feels like it); our heat is just of a different kind. It’s wetter, more humid, more accommodating. It feels more like an overbearing hug as opposed to this one, which felt like a slow strangling. I already missed my Lagos.


This Is Us

A high-speed shot of a person popping a red balloon in front of their face.
A high-speed shot of a person popping a red balloon in front of their face.

Her anger filled all space,
expanding like thick grey smoke,
rainclouds building,
brimming with thunder,
a silent stagnant mass growing,
crackling across waves,
lit up by sudden flashes
ringing loud across the sky,
rumbling then exploding as it must.

Her anger skulked like a black cat,
fur set on end by ghosts,
unseen enemies,
fluffed by fear, hatred, fury,
always ready to spring;
like a porcupine, round-backed,
hiding soft belly flesh,
quills quivering against the world,
pricking itself from the effort.

Her anger filled the house
like a small scared child,
hunchbacked,
curled into the smallest corner,
seething to itself in the dark,
until, found…


Humans 101

A lesson from children about etiology, phenomenology, epistemology, and learning ethics from nature

Autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves.

Asking questions about autumn

The sun’s path appears to be bending south, adding a dull hue to summer’s bright skies. The last efforts at growth showcase the skills of plants not yet ready to die. Humidity vacates the air, replaced by a crisp breeze. Even the sun seems compelled to offer new ventures of color — bending light among increased clouds, resulting in vibrant displays of reds, oranges, and the occasional purple on the horizon at the end of a now-shortened day.

It is the one time of year those of us living in temperate climates take pride in our weather.

There is nothing…


The winter solstice marks the beginning of our journey back to light

Historically, winter has always been my least favorite season. The cold weather, gray skies, and nightfall that arrives painfully early used to make this time of year feel not only interminably long but, frankly, depressing. This was especially true of the years when I lived in Chicago, when the winter seemed endless.

Maybe this is why I never paid much attention to the winter solstice. Typically arriving on or around December 21 each year, the solstice marks the shortest day of the year. And while the days technically begin to get longer from this point forward, the solstice itself has…


How my uncle’s generosity — and love of the sea — inspired me for a lifetime

Sometimes, early planted seeds that will germinate decades later into a writer’s life are planted by sources neither formal nor literary. Indeed mine were neither. I had Uncle Tony. What Uncle Tony had: An untrained eye for the beautiful and a willingness to share a little time near water.

But now he’s in a two-person room on the far side of the curtain. Our visit is mostly a surprise. As we file past the partition Tony takes in his visitors. It’s my mother, me…

“Here’s a person I haven’t met,” he says as we fully materialize.

“My wife,” I say…


Nature can bring peace and quiet, but it can’t fully restore your better self. Only people can.


Outside our motel room door, the Sierra air hits me in the face like the snap of a rubber band. The parking lot is a sheet of ice, pockmarked with soap bubbles; a witness to the manager’s son’s attempt, well-meaning but misguided, to wash away an oil stain after last night’s sunset. West and east, snowcapped peaks rise up out of the sagebrush. North and south, following the ribbon of the Owens River Valley, there is only exhilarating blue sky.

I toss my bike onto my right shoulder, wrapping my gloved hand around the smooth carbon top tube…


Let the sunrise nudge you out of bed. Sit in its soft light, with its quiet air. Listen to it whisper about today’s possibilities. About the mountains you’ll climb. The rivers you’ll cross. Stay suspended between asleep and awake; just long enough to let your eyes adjust to reality, but your mind meander through dreams.

Then make yourself some coffee. Add a splash of words and a spoonful of stories. Sip on love and gulp down tragedy. Savor strong character and sweet simplicity. Let compassion wake you up.

Walk outside and plant your feet on this Earth. Feel its…

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