Elizabeth Greenwood | Longreads | January 2018 | 25 minutes (6,900 words)

Another fit of insomnia. I reach for a book I’ve read before, in times both happy and sad: Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness. I open at random to a chapter toward the end, on the subject of generosity. “When a strong urge comes up in my mind to give something — even though the next fifty thoughts may be ‘Oh, no, I can’t do that. I might need it!’— I give it,” Salzberg writes. “Even if fear or other considerations come up, my resolve is to honor that first impulse to give.” As I read these lines, my heart seizes. Something in this passage contained the remedy I’d been craving because everything in my life felt as if it was contracting.

My first book was hot off the presses. I’d heard about the cruel process from other authors: You…

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