What To Do If You Are Not OK

My sister on the phone yesterday: “I literally cannot name a single person right now who is doing OK.”

Sophie Lucido Johnson


Once again, everything is not OK.

(As an aside: my sister asked several months ago, “What do you mean when you say ‘OK’?” And I felt like it was one of those things where you know when you know, but also a valid question. Nevertheless, my impulse when someone asks for a definition is to Google it, and I went down a rabbit hole about the origins of the word “OK.” What’s annoying is that there’s not really a clear consensus; the Smithsonian likes the idea that “OK” was a satirical newspaper joke that went viral in 1839, which, fine. If that was true, it would have originated because someone was making fun of someone else for abbreviating other things — sort like BRB — but they wouldn’t have been doing BRB back then. The only period-appropriate abbreviation listed in the Smithsonian article is “OW” for “Oll Wright,” as in, “All Right.” So, basically, maybe, “OK” is a viral joke from old New England. I wanted the answer to lead me somewhere that would help me understand myself, and all of us, but all it helps me understand is that it’s so hard to know what makes language catch on. I’m getting better at saying “it’s giving,” by the way.)

All illustrations and photos are by the author, who is me, Sophie Lucido Johnson.

For now, I guess I mean: more bodies than usual seem unbalanced. For instance, when you check in with yourself, when you put your hand on your chest, do you feel your heart sort of pounding, or your muscles tightening? The world is going through it, and you are part of the world, so you are going through it too.

But hey: I don’t want to put any of this on you without your consent. Maybe you are in New Zealand, where it’s building to summer, and you’re harvesting sweet spring peas, and that’s pretty much all you’ve got going on these days. If this is you, I’m so glad you’re here — and you can skip ahead. This part of the newsletter is for those of us who are staring down darkness.

This bird is from New Zealand. Just in case this… feels like it is coming out of left field

First of all, I always need to be reminded explicitly in October that the darkness is literal for people in the Northern Hemisphere…