Rick Benger

stories and experiments of belonging, kinship and renaissance.

stories and experiments of belonging, kinship and renaissance.

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A beautiful re-bundling, Medley, and Bloom

I've been thinking about belonging. The felt-sense that one is at home in group, place, or process. The soul at ease in relation with the universe. Gemeinschaftsgefühl. The pandemic has afforded us a collective reckoning with belonging. With a common injury a…



Belonging. In my last letter I shared this summary:


The Year of Collective Thinking

I shirk at the same apologetic wince with which I've written most emails for 6 months — sorry for the delay, so much is happening, where to begin, I miss you. Noted and forgiven. Now, this.



In the most recent New Dad post, my boy was a mute 10-month-old quadruped, wondering at a sock.Now he speaks, walks, barters and fibs. He remembers. He knows who he is and what he wants. (He is Noah, he wants to ‘repair’ his pillow with the drill.)He will eme…


He Is a Stargazer

In womb he was occipitoposterior, meaning his head was pointed at mum’s feet and his eyes were looking at mum’s tummy. Americans have an adorable colloquialism for this position: sunny side up. Germans have a beautiful one: Sternengucker — stargazer.Giving bi…


I Love You But

I love you but you’re boring.same old wrigglesame old fuss.mono-conversationalist.humdrum humdrumnappiesful of tedium.I love you but enoughof this banal melodrama.I have needs too you know—to be undistracted,to meander in thought,to be near water, alone.I lov…


He Is Not a Project

There are parents for whom a baby is but a project. The goal is the perfect child and each meal, teaching, toy and urging is a bullet point on a decades-long to-do list. There is love. But the mood of the love is vigilant and hurried. When this parent speaks …



Music is a parent’s cure-all. I play music or sing or hum to entertain (him), engage (him), distract or sedate (us both).I cannot sing well so mostly I sing-talk. Lilting, running commentary like:This is a sockAnd this is a sockTwo socks, on your feet they go…


In His Dreams

He is one day old and asleep. His face is calm and healthy pink. Now REM-charged eyeballs pulse his eyelids and he frowns, his brow tensed, grown-up and troubled, now the tension releases quick as an archer’s bow and his mouth curls up, a little more on one s…


A Step-by-Step Guide to Calming a Fussy Baby

Insert milk.Not hungry? Sniff butt.Diaper smells fine? Change position. A baby’s digestive system is manual not automatic—often a simple tilt, shift, rub, or stretch will help the milk and air on their way.That made it worse? Ah ha, it must be air! Try your p…


More With Less

Our child is here and so is the life of more with less. More errands, necessity, urgency. More love required. Less time, energy, choice. Less control and space. Before our son was born I feared these conditions. Can I be and do more with less? went the worry.…


Getting Some Sleep

“I hope you’re getting some sleep” is the polite and expected thing to say to a new parent. It’s spoken as a sympathetic punchline. It’s “I hope you stay warm out there” chirped to someone who has to work all day in the snow, or “I hope you don’t stay too lat…


He Is Testing Me

It’s funny the first time. You’ve wiped and dried your baby and applied a soothing tea-tree oil spritz to their undercarriage. You say something cute like “there you go, nice and clean, little pudding”, as you unfold a crisp nappy. Baby wriggles and kicks off…


His Eyes Are Becoming

Nine days old and I still can’t tell the colour of his eyes.In his olive-green jumpsuit, they’re most certainly green.Sometimes I spot veins of caramel and gold—they’re hazel.When his mood turns his eyes are infinite black. They suck all light from the room.H…


He is Born

Compacted, pickled and purple, cradled by our doctor whom I’ve come to know by her lip-chewing, head-tilting inspections between each round of pushing, as though contemplating a chess board, as the Grandmaster.Our boy is trussed up in his cord. The Grandmaste…