Photo by Scott Rudin
Can you make a difference? Yes. Can you change yourself? Yes.
I’ve got a story for you.
Last week I was fortunate enough to pay a private visit to the Merwin Conservancy’s palm sanctuary in Haiku, Maui.* There I saw what one person can do. William S. Merwin took a piece of land destroyed and left for dead by short-sighted corporate agriculture and brought it back to thriving life. But it didn’t happen overnight.
First, Merwin planted 1,000 native plants with his own hands. They all died. Every. Single. One.
Despite that outcome, he didn’t quit. Instead he turned his efforts to palms, which are technically part of the grass family, “vascular tubes” rather than trees, scientifically speaking.
He planted and planted. Many of them died, but more lived.
40 years later, over 3,000 hand-planted palms representing more than 480 species -- some exceedingly rare “holy grail palms” -- are thriving on this former wasteland. It is lush and beautiful, pulsing with green life and all that comes with it (I have the mosquito bites to prove it).
The 19-acre forest is a living 3-dimensional poem, a testament to vision, patience, and grit. This is not a Hawaiian fable; it’s real life. And W.S. Merwin is no slouch when it comes to words, either. He’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet laureate.
Welcome to the long play: seemingly small changes that yield great results over time. That’s what a few minutes a day of putting pen to paper can do for you. Planting one palm is good, planting 3,000 palms is better - just like journaling once in a while is good but consistency has exponential rewards. After a while you can look back and see how you used this simple tool to transform your life into a lush, verdant ecosystem.
This installment of AllSwell Reads includes some long-play changemakers, too. I hope you enjoy their stories and they inspire you to tell your own.
* Generously orchestrated by New York Times best-selling author Susan Casey.
Photo by Heidi Zumbrun
If you thought the current hum of anxiety that everyone seems to be feeling is particular to the digital age, not so. Even the ancient Romans were jittery. How did they handle their stresses? Not CBD gummies - journaling. It worked for them and it can work for you. Read more at the link up top.
We’re a big fan of creatives that don’t stay in one lane. Case in point: a photographer that became a doctor that became a photographer (again). “As a resident guiding my own interns, I wondered what to specialize in. Then I knew. I wanted to make photographs again, I wanted to make films, I wanted to tell stories like nothing else mattered. I was leaving medicine—but with hard-won scientific knowledge and experience caring for the ill, a graduate degree in the human condition. I’d received a call I had to answer, the call to create.” For a lesson in following your own creative path, no matter how winding the road, visit the link up top.
Photo courtesy of the New Yorker
“Catfishing” is when an online romantic interest turns out to be someone else—your classic bait and switch. Here are some more aquatic-wildlife-inspired dating terms to keep in mind when meeting someone new in 2019. Share it with all the singles in your sea. Visit the link up top for a good chuckle.
Photo by Heidi Zumbrun
In this pixelated age, old-fashioned pen to paper writing is making a comeback. Even the fountain pen is having a resurgence. According to this writer, it’s not just literary, it’s lit. To meet the “rockstar of pen culture” and more characters from this quirky, analog subculture, visit the link above.
Photo by Dylan Gordon
Known as a power surfer, carving big, forceful turns that cover the entire face of the wave, Knox, 47, still contains as much energy as athletes half his age. But he knows a thing or two about longevity. While Knox has always made physical fitness a priority, he credits his long-lasting success to the state of his mind. Yup, even the bro-iest bro’s are getting the message. For more Knox’s journey visit the link above.
Photo by Kate Van BrocklinOwning what happens to you is part of what makes a good writer. Few writers seems to embody this quality more than Elizabeth Wurtzel. Author of Prozac Nation and hailed as a literary wunderkind in the 90’s, read this current first person account of Wurtzel discovering her parents are not at all who she believed them to be. From the story’s opening line (“Life is just a shock to the system.”) buckle in and enjoy the punchy-bordering-on-punk-rock writing style at the link up top.