I’m checking in with a relatively equanimous mood. In other words, I feel okay.
As recently as Friday, I was not feeling okay. I was feeling lonely, depressed, and anxious. It’s been a rough few months.
But Friday afternoon I did medicine work in the woods. There’s lots I could say about this, but the short version is I had a very therapeutic and beautiful encounter with [unspecified natural medicine]. And out of that session came some healing messages from the Universe that I decided to share with all of you (see below).
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Meet Squirrel and Rage Rabbit
At long last I am hosting a video meeting with Squirrel, open to Squirrel fans like you. I’ll send a link out through Substack, but save the date and time: Sunday, October 2, at 1pm pacific.
Squirrel Fans in the Strangest Places
A very strange, sort of funny, and very stressful thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. A guy came to my door and handed me an envelope. Before I could register what was happening, he mumbled, in a rushed jumble: It’s really nice to meet you in person I’m a really big fan.
And then he fully fled the premises.
In my hand, a blank envelope that contained notice of a lawsuit between Bank of America, N.A., and Evan D. Wagoner-Lynch, resident of San Juan County.
Baby’s first lawsuit.
My body did not like. My body went into a three-day somatic freakout: An anxious fight or flight buzz, a floaty dissociative trance.
But my mind knew this was a thing that could happen as part of my debt odyssey. My mind found a legal aid lawyer. My legal aid lawyer helped me draft an answer letter which I believe reads “Go fuck yourself” in legalese.
I could talk at length about the history of usury, the consumer debt industry, and the phenomenon of creditor’s rights (!) attorneys.
But I won’t, for now. I’m thinking of some sort of live performance when the dust settles.
The point is, you guys, I met a fan! …Who also happens to be a process server.
The Universe is not without a sense of humor.
Squirrel Channels the Universe
So during my medicine session, I received some healing messages, which I attempted to record, in Squirrel’s voice, while coming down from the medicine. I then distilled those recordings, which were all over the place, into a video, which came out like this:
There’s a fun thing that happens when the almighty TikTok Algorithm smiles upon a video. The view counter leaps up, and up: 5,000, 20,000, 60,000. As of this writing, just 24 hours after posting, the video is soaring past 700,000 views, which will soon make it Squirrel’s most viewed video of all time. Squirrel also gained another 20,000+ subscribers, rocketing at long last past the 200,000 mark to 220,000 souls.
People say the damndest things to me, like:
But I have to respond…It isn’t me. I’m just passing along a message that [redacted natural medicine] told me about. Or relayed to me from, I don’t know, the Universe?
Or here’s how Karen O just put it in the New Yorker. Regarding writing the epic Yeah Yeah Yeahs tune, Maps:
It’s such a simple song—super pure, super simple. And it didn’t evolve much from that original demo. It’s really hard to take credit for it. It’s one of the great mysteries of being alive for me, being able to write a song like “Maps.”
Some other dialogues: I’ve been thinking a lot about belonging. So we talked about that.
On the TikTok edition of this video, there’s the most extensive comment chain yet on Squirrel’s accent. Most experts agree: Boston’s North Shore, maybe Revere. A sprinkling of Brooklyn.
Since you’re here reading this, I’ll reveal the secret again. Squirrel’s accent is based on that of mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, who has roots in New York and Boston.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about loss, and grief. So we talked about that.
Squirrel Letter of the Month
From Squirrel’s Patreon, where we recently surpassed 50 patrons.
The first video I ever saw of you and squirrel facilitated a breakthrough in me that my therapist and I had been laying the groundwork on for years. She and I both are very grateful for your work. 🤎
What if TikTok Loved You?
In 2019 I had a thousand-mile cry, in an arc between Chicago and Denver. I was folded into the seat of an Alaska Airlines 737, and I was reconnecting with a long lost friend. The friend was Fred Rogers, resurrected in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
A few weeks ago I rewatched the documentary and wept anew.
I love Mister Rogers. I have always loved Mister Rogers. Revisiting his story, I meditated on what exactly has always drawn me to him.
I think as a child, I saw Mister Rogers as the rare safe male role model and parental figure. My father was a source of much of the terror and anxiety of my childhood. I had few male relatives, whom I rarely saw. Most of my favorite teachers were women.
But every day I’d sit in front of the television and a grandfatherly man would look me in the eyes and tell me he liked me just the way I was. Mister Rogers was a ray of light in a childhood full of scary darkness. He was a clue that I did not understand at the time. A clue that read: There *is* such a thing as a kind and loving man.
AND: It’s possible that you’re lovable just the way you are.
The lessons I learned to the contrary, that I was only lovable when I was quiet, perfect, orderly, and without needs…That was the lesson I took deep into my body and well into my adulthood. But a little candle burned for thirty some years, put there by Mister Rogers.
Rewatching the documentary, I found I was crying for another reason too. I am inspired by Mister Rogers. I find myself looking to him as I strive to show up as an artist. But I’m beginning to think I’m not an artist.
Because Mister Rogers wasn’t. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister. What’s most astonishing to me: He became a minister with the sole intention of using television to minister to children. Television was, in the 1960s, still a young medium.
It would be rather like ministering to people on TikTok, today.
It reminds me of a question posed by one of the founders of Sesame Street: What if television loved you?
So what if TikTok loved you? What would that look like?
What I’m waking up to is this: The work I’m doing is not just mental health content, or art, or education. It has another dimension I can only describe as spiritual.
My viewers led me to this with their comments, their feedback. My calling is clear; What remains to be seen is what happens when I radically commit to it. Let’s find out.
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