The Delights of Distraction No.15

Hey There,

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.

As Unlock 3.0 is upon us, and we learn to live bravely through this new world, we're reflecting on this moment as a learning opportunity. We've had four months to think about what really matters -  and we hope to imbibe those tiny lessons into our futures -  not letting our hard-won clarity fall by the wayside in the name of convenience and consumption.  So here's a shortlist of our recently-acquired pearls of wisdom; we're sharing it with you, to keep us honest - and maybe you have some learnings of your own to share with us... 

1. Human connection is the key to happiness
There is a profoundly new appreciation for in-person get-togethers. Sure, Zoom and WhatsApp video bridge the chasm of despair and loneliness to a certain extent, but there is no oxytocin-inducing substitute for hugs, eye-contact, or holding hands.  The emotional high and sense of connection we get from being in the physical presence of others sharing an experience together is inspiring and sacred. Our post-lockdown life will feature way more in-person get-togethers (masked, and possibly outdoors) and a new-found respect for noisy kitty parties :)

2. Gratitude for unsung heroes
From food suppliers and delivery folk to the people who keep our floors and dishes clean - the 'demic was a real trial by fire of the factors that had the biggest impact on our well-being. We will show more gratitude for all of the people and things that make our life easier and happier. 

3. We need much less than we thought 
A pair of chappals, Pjs, and three outfits - this was what our extensive fashion wardrobe was whittled down to - and we feel none the worse for it! We really don't need so many clothes. Post-lockdown life will see us Marie-Kondoing the hell out of all the excess, superfluous things that don't spark joy.

4. De-stressing is good for everybody
The Lockdown forced many folks to get off their figurative treadmills and slow down and find new ways to manage their stress and anxiety. Perhaps you’ve finally learned to meditate - or pulled out your journal, or are learning to paint, or planting a vegetable garden. All of these have the potential to improve one's mental well-being and are methods that would be worth holding on to once we are properly set free again.

And here's where the preaching stops and the distraction begins! Some of our favorites of the week:

To Read: Seema Taparia’s hotly debated matchmaking skills may have broken the internet last weekend, but love her or cringe-watch her, there's no denying that her rather traditional checklist of partner compatibility is a reflection of the society we live in.
This article traces the roots of our arranged marriage system - while this one is a charming piece on a 'Manglik' girl caught between marrying her man and crossing her stars. 

To Watch: Anthony Bourdain, The late God of good taste and connoisseur of cool launched a series in 2015 that charts the process master craftsman and craftswomen take with their tools, honing their extraordinary skills. Bourdain's easy charm and the craftsmen's excellence is captured on Youtube in 14 short episodes. Watch Dominique Ansel, the master magician pastry chef take you through the process of crafting his most famous desserts, the legendary "boxing" tailor who takes 75 hours to painstakingly stitch a single suit or the magic of creating a book at an old-world printing press. As Bourdain says, "The term 'handcrafted' gets thrown around a lot these days. It's become a movement, a trend, that can obscure the passionate folks who actually make amazing things by hand. Their remarkable stories need to be told and I'm going to find them." Sigh, AB - we miss you!

To Cook: We mentioned Dominique Ansel above, the highly celebrated pastry chef who invented the "cronut" and whose "kouign-amann" cause queues around the block. After watching his video with Bourdain, we thought we'd jostle up one of his creations, but the cronut was too formidable to take on, so we settled for this less challenging but no less delicious, Peanut-butter Mousse crunch Cake recipe instead. And if you would like to watch the man himself telling you how to make it - here's his video detailing the process

To ListenHere's a super fun website that tracks every single top 5 songs from 1958-2016, and plays 10-second snippets of them, so you can fall through the rabbit hole of decades and reminisce about the good ol' days when the music was good and the air was clean. We usually are most fond of the music we listened to from high school to college, so we tuned in to the hits of the '90s  (yes, we're old!) and kicked back to the groovy R&B stylings of that era, flooding our senses in blissful nostalgia. 

To do: Debbie Millman, writer-designer-artist extraordinaire, describes an affirmation experiment that she says had profound effects on her students who sat down to write it.  Here's a short excerpt of how it starts: "Write about this day, this one day ten years from now. So one day in the winter of 2030, what does your whole day look like? Start from the minute you wake up, brush your teeth, have your coffee or tea, all the way through until minute you tuck yourself in at night. What is that day like for you?" We suggest you check out the "Ten-year plan for a remarkable life". Put your heart into it, write out that day, and see what happens. 

To Ponder: If there's any go-to creation that cultivates calm in times of chaos, it has to be Calvin & Hobbes. This enlightened, cynical yet optimistic comic strip touches on themes such as the importance of free-thinking over herd mentality, the dangers of selling our souls for instant pleasures, and what really matters in our tiny, short lives. This website takes you through a bunch of soul-satisfying strips by Bill Waterson. When we clicked on "Random" - we found some gems that were most apropos for pandemic times.
  • Calvin: That's one of the remarkable things about life. It's never so bad that it can't get worse.  
  • Calvin: You know what's weird? Day by day nothing seems to change, but pretty soon, everything is different!
  • Calvin: Isn't it sad how some people's grip on their lives is so precarious that they'll embrace any preposterous delusion rather than face an occasional bleak truth?
  • Hobbes: Watcha doin'? Calvin: I'm killing time while I wait for life to shower me with meaning and happiness.
  • Calvin: There are the type of days when you should just give in. Put your pajamas back on and read books in bed with covers up until the world looks more encouraging.  
Thank you C&H, for celebrating partners in weirdness, soul-piercing wisdom, and the art of being gentle with yourself. 

And with that, we sign off,

Viv and Avneet