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.
We are now officially living in a post-lockdown world, as most restrictions have eased, masks are a ubiquitous sighting, and people have gotten used to entertaining at home. But many of our dear ones, even if healthy, have not come through the other side of lockdown, unscathed. Some have lost their jobs, or have had to take pay cuts or aren't getting freelance gigs anymore as markets dry up. Other than obvious economic setbacks, the loss of a job, (and therefore some form of achievement) ends up as a loss of identity. When we attach our identity to achievement, we are suffering a terrible problem of rat-race fatigue. So how do we untangle ourselves from it?
Shirzade Chamine from the book "Positive Intelligence" has some answers and if you're suffering from anxiety, lack of self-worth, FOMO or depression in the wake of job changes, we recommend you pick it up. It forces you to look at yourself for who you are, and love yourself unconditionally without setting a performative target for feeling "enough". For some of us - used to beating ourselves up - this requires a radical brain shift. Luckily, Chamine has some suggestions on how we could do that:
"Visualize yourself as a child in a setting where your essence is shining through. Perhaps you are holding a puppy, building a sandcastle, chasing a bunny, or snuggling with a loved one. Put that picture on your desk or on your phone or computer so that you see it frequently. This image will be a reminder that your true essence is worthy of unconditional caring and empathy when you are feeling beaten down by yourself, others, or the troubles of life."
And with that, here are our favourite links of the week
To Read: This visual article by the BBC, takes a gander at what the world will be like for us at work and at home through the lens of design. It looks at ideas on how our home office would function, the rise of touchless technology, moving away from cities, the end of the open-plan office and basically a brand new world that we would adapt to so quickly that life before 2020 would be a faint memory of how things were.
To Marvel: Do scroll through the feed of this creative director, who takes renaissance paintings and superimposes them into modern scenarios that are satirical, clever and evocative. Our favourites are his series of renaissance classic icons such as 'the girl with the pearl earring' and the Monalisa, collaged into scenes from Sex and the City, Friends and other landscapes from pop culture.
To Cook: Modern mithai shops and experimental bakeries are re-imagining the traditional Indian sweet, fusing old-school sweet-making methods with a more international dessert palate, to make them more appealing as everyday desserts and not just festival sweets wrapped in mothai boxes. This article gives a comprehensive overview of what some feted restaurants and contemporary confectioners are creating across the country, from 5 seed-smoked-almond chikki, and aam papad lollipops to shahi tukda cinnamon rolls. Inspired by this creative fusion of flavors, we thought you should try this recipe; Nik Sharma's twist on a loaf cake - it's made with dates and frosted with sweet and sour tamarind. We have to admit we haven't made this yet, but it's on our burgeoning "to bake" list - so if any of you manage to bake it this week, let us know how it turns out!
To Explore: This website, Drive & Listen pulls dashboard cam videos from YouTube from major cities across the globe and pairs them up with local music channels so that you can feel like you’re cruising in a foreign city, blasting the radio, all while sitting at your desk.
To Watch: Fellow tribe of awkward introverts and small-talk snobs would nod in recognition at the snarky observations in this illustrated video by cartoonist Liana Finck. Navigating social etiquette in polite company is a mine-field for plain speakers like ourselves who end up after most conversations, with feet firmly in mouth. Why can't we all just say what we mean? It seems like the fabric of our society is stitched together through a patchwork of white lies, and Finck does a hilarious job of unraveling it.
To Learn: Probably the most rewarding and meaningful thing you'll ever learn is the ability to make someone else feel better. It's like a superpower; because so few of us seem to have it. We either go into problem-solving mode too soon, or minimize the concerned person's plight, or override their issues with our own tribulations. If you're guilty of any of that, then we urge you to read this article which outlines “The Four States of Distress” — 1. Shocked. 2. Feeling bad and not wanting to feel better. 3. Ready to feel better. 4. Feeling better and needing solutions. — and suggests the most helpful actions you can take to comfort someone at each state. It also brings to light the idea of 'comfort languages' - and your response might be tailored to fit that person's comfort language. For example, our comfort language is almost always accompanied by a large box of sugar baked goods, which makes even unsolicited advice, palatable :)
Sending good luck vibes to all of you who have to adjust to this new era in radically new circumstances. We leave you with this poem "Everything is waiting for you", by David Whyte. The last stanza is below:
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
Stay safe, make good choices and keep that light on,
Viv and Ami