Delights of Distraction No.35: Good Riddance 2020
In April, we -Vivita and Avneet, the co-founders of The Wishing Chair, released the "Delights of Distraction" newsletters; a grab-bag of some of our favorite links across the internet that lent some diversion, inspiration, and solace during these unsettling times. We hope to continue this weekly correspondence as long as it resonates with you, our readers - our true sources of joy and delight. If you are just joining us, you can find all previous editions here.
Merry Christmas sweet mittens!
The best part of this Xmas, (unless Santa is gifting us all a vaccine) is the knowing that in 5 days, this year will be over and to say F*&% you and farewell to the annus horribilis that was 2020. It started with a bang, with protests and forest fires and has ended with 1.5 million people dead from the pandemic.
Farewell to you 2020, bye bye to your glut of bad Netflix documentaries (Tiger King, ew), cringe-watching fests (Lives of Bollywood wives ??!!) and celebrities going live on Instagram from their mansions or private islands, telling us "we're all in this together". We will not miss the Zoom party birthdays (are they still a thing?), covidiots being idiots (because they think the world is cured now that Coronil is here), putting a shirt on over stained joggers for meetings and the 11kg gained from stress-fuelled gluttony, midnight snacking and binge-eating while binge-watching.
We hope that you leaving is an end to us listening to polarized political debate on how the virus was handled and that we don't have to constantly self soothe to calming ocean sounds, or high-key playlists to dance the pain away. Thank god you're finally leaving and taking that bread obsession with you (that sourdough starter has been fermenting into a puddle of dashed hopes in the back of the fridge), and along with that please take everyone who says they've been thriving during the pandemic, or who use the term "new normal" or who say "This is like a Black mirror episode".
But like a toxic boyfriend, though you manifested some of our biggest fears, in reaching for resilience and survival you taught us how we can love. How our love is visceral and empathetic and expansive and can wrap itself fearlessly around the world. How to foster hope in the small things, little good deeds that will live on long after we're dead. How a rupee note pulled out of a pocket, can eventually become a flame that lights up the sky.
So tata 2020 - don't let the door hit your butt on the way out. Thank you, next!
And for our last roundup of the year, here are some of our faves of week:
To Read: A reader reached out and requested eccos for Christmas stories, so here's the definitive list of over 100 Christmas-themed shorts stories from the familiar classics by Charles Dickens and O. Henry to a poignant one by Rudyard Kipling on his Christmas in India away from home. And to put things in perspective - The Wired has a run down of good stuff this year OTHER than the global pandemic, from an elephantine baby boom to discovery of new coral reefs. And here's pieces of good news we heard this year in illustrated format, so it's as easy on the eyes as it is on the heart.
To Joy Scroll: This one's another look at the year in photos; a scroll-through might trigger a bumpy, emotional ride; the shock and horror when it all began to the grief, sadness and helplessness as the months passed, with pocketfuls of joy few and far between.
And if that's too much for you, joy scroll through these watercolors created on used tea bags. A creative reminder that we can see art everywhere and anything can be our canvas and through these gorgeous Christmas cards, designed by the inimitable surrealist Salvador Dali, who subverted the sappy Hallmark Christmas card with Noel inspired burning giraffes and melting clocks.
To Cook: The virus has changed how we will do many things forever - one of them is how we eat. Chefs across the world are predicting some of the biggest food trends for 2021, from individualized tasting menus to virtual cooking classes. One of the big ones that emerged this year and will continue into the next, is comfort food. So here are four variations on maggi recipes and how to make the yummiest Mac and cheese from a website that was a lifesaver during lockdown, for its easy recipes with always delicious results.
To Listen: Tree.fm lets you tune into the sounds of different forests from around the world, bringing a taste of forest bathing to those who are staying at home, people in cities, or anyone else who needs to hear remote wild places of trees rustling, birds chirping and other unidentifiable sounds to us city slickers. We recommend you keep this running in the background of workdays: forests are full of song, and listening to trees sing has several demonstrable benefits, many of these have to do with visual, olfactory, and tactile pleasures.
Also listen to this episode in the podcast, Radio Diaries of Centenarians (Still) in Lockdown. It's a life affirming conversation with two centenarians who are cheerfully seeing out the pandemic. Joe Newman's fiancée Anita Sampson just turned 100 — and he captures her reaction to the virtual birthday party he organised. Joe also shares his memories of the 1918 flu pandemic. Every night they kiss and say "I hope to see you in the morning" and every morning they check the other is still breathing.
If there's anything one can ever wish for in 2020, if we'd ever live that long (not bloody likely with our AQIs), it's to be EXACTLY like these guys.
To Watch: Death, a kindly gentleman riding in a horse carriage, comes to collect a woman for her journey to the afterlife. So begins Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I could not stop for Death,” an exploration of both the uncertainties of death and its inevitability. We've perhaps contemplated death much more this year than any other, so it's fitting that at the end of the year, we dive into that which speaks to life’s greatest mystery: what happens when you die?
To Play: Experiment with the voice, as you try and harmonize operatic blobs into belting out some impressivel tunes. There's a whole lot of AI and future potential of music science yaddy yaddy ya behind this that we don't entirely understand yet, but mostly it's a whole lot of flubbery fun!
To end, we'd just like to say - that we started this newsletter over 7 months ago, and we are humbled and honoured to still be part of your life...that you're still reading us! Thank you for your emails, your love and support. We are grateful for you and are wishing you a happy everything to makeup for 2020.
As for 2021 new year's resolutions: Please do not bring that foolishness into 2021. You are here, alive, curious and ablaze with hope. You are perfect as you are.
Wishing you gentleness, warmth and sweetness - and a new year as cozy as fluffy silk slippers,
Viv & Ami
P.S. As a little farewell celebration to 2020 - we're giving all of you free shipping for the rest of the year. Get your wishlist before 31st Dec 2020 and shipping is on us!
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