21 November

Robin In New York: Finding The Sweet Zones

by Jon Katz

The last time I saw Robin was a golden day towards the end of March; Maria and I met with her and Emma and her husband Jay at the Bronx Zoo.

It was one of those golden Spring days, and Robin and I have great fun-loving and joking with one another. I imagine it may be next Spring before we are together again.

Emma has done me a kind service by sending me these beautiful photographs chronicling Robin’s evolution from a toddler into something else. I feel as if I know her well.

On the phone, and even on Facetime, we get along well, but I am not, of course, a central figure in her life. How could I be? I’m good with it.

In a blink, she’ll be a tall, wonderful and fascinating adolescent. I am learning to appreciate her from a distance. Sometimes it’s hard, but it has its own beauty; just look at these photos.

Emma sat down with Robin yesterday to teach her how to write her name. But she knew how to write her name, of course. She had learned it in school.

In this strange year, I’ve learned to create a series of zones around my life.

The Rancor Zone is when I look at the news or stick my nose in politics through my writing.

The Sweet Zone is when I meditate, or sit out with the donkeys, or lie in bed with Maria, or walk with her, or get a photo of Robin, or read a good book, or write on my blog or take a picture of a sheep, or send something to the Mansion or help a refugee child or family.

How lucky am I to have as many Sweet Zones as that.

This afternoon, I listened to a piano lullaby by Lindsey Sterling.

It took me to a beautiful and soft place.

Once a day, I check on the coronavirus infections and deaths in my county, I don’t want to dwell on the virus, but I don’t want to hide from it either. The virus is its own zone; sometimes, it surrounds me.

I intend to be around for my vaccine and beyond. All this exercise can’t be wasted or thrown away. I am conscious of the sickness and death around me at times; I’ve lost some friends this year.

I put suffering and loss together in one zone; perhaps it could be called the Sorrow Zone. I often write and truly believe that pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice.

Donald Trump is his own zone; he is rushing towards the dark side, he will harm many of us, but he will destroy himself. That is a Sad Zone.

Hatred and rage is infectious. So is fear.  I don’t want to get infected with those things, either.

I do not choose to spend any significant part of my life angry or brooding, or afraid. I cherish my Sweet Zones. These photos of Robin constitute on all of their own.

This year has been a hard year for me and those I love, and I’m sure the same is true of you. We suffer this year, but we are not alone. Everyone has suffered this year in one way or another.

We have so much more in common than we think. Red and Blue people suffer; it is a powerful bond.

For all that, my life is good and rich and meaningful, and I am grateful for every day of it. This afternoon, Maria and I spent several hours shoveling manure and spreading it over our gardens.

It was a very Sweet Zone.


  1. such a perfect photo, I felt my heart open. With Robin’s head tilted as if questioning, her blue jacket bluer than the water, framed by the city I love and a yellow ginkgo leaf in her hands, to me representing wisdom.

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