The Delights of Distraction No.42

Both of us, Vivita and Avneet, seem to have anxiety-ridden natures whose base levels start at : “through the damn roof”. Business triggers, guilt-ridden calls from home, a morning routine gone wrong - anything can set off the avalanche of anxious symptoms: irritability, the floor spinning, the churning in your gut, sweaty palms and the dreaded  runs!

And all this despite measures in place to combat it: workouts, medication, mindfulness techniques, cognitive behavioural strategies, journaling, long walks. All of these, in fact, have had a hand in making us aware of how anxious we’ve been for so much of our lives –along with knowing (and slightly resenting) people who don’t operate out of a constant impending sense of doom (i.e. husbands, boyfriends and most men we know) - whose chill, self-confident, Delhi-esque “chalega” attitude can sometimes set us free, but mostly makes us want to run them over (keeping with Delhi machismo) with a truck!

In moments where our sensory-overloaded hormones and neural pathways turn into existential crises, or, the first hour of the day and all subsequent ones until wine o’clock feel like the tension of a loaded gun, it’s easy to let the day just buzz by.

It’s easy not to notice how the light turned from yellow-white to golden-amber, filtered through the window and landing on a loved one’s (human or canine) face.

One grand boulevard with trees
with one grand cafe in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups.

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.

One fine day.

―Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "Recipe For Happiness in Khaborovsk Or Anyplace"

On days when the light is just right, a cool breeze blows through the balcony and the phone isn’t ringing with urgency, we allow ourselves to submit to the mystery of a future that is beyond us. Take a deep breath, and live in this one fine day.

To Read: An eloquently penned article on that tumultuous time for women between their 20s and 40s - , when your biological clock tick-tocks at a nagging pace, and all your decisions are made in the hope to quell the clanging of hormones, social pressure and maternal hunger in a race against time.
“Throughout my twenties and into my thirties, I tried desperately to appear casual and carefree, believing that any hint at my true, complicated desires—in my case, for love, commitment, independence, a successful career, and ultimately a baby too—would render me single forever. I silenced myself, because I thought it made me more attractive. I tucked my weaknesses, my wants, and my womb out of sight.”

To Not Read: We sometimes recommend a list of top things to read - well here’s a recco of a list of books to NOT be tempted to pick up in an endeavour to “self-improve”. Perhaps surprise yourself with a book you’ve never heard of, or maybe even, dare we say it… fiction?

To Ponder: The action between being okay and falling into a pit of despair can be as simple having a snack, or taking a shower. This thoughtful post on things you can do before you give it all up is a helpful reminder for yourselves and loved ones, if you ever happen to find yourself on that slippery slope.

To Joy Scroll: Kristina Makeeva grew up in an ugly, grey, concrete jungle near Moscow. Her uninspired surroundings have inspired her to create photographs that are immersive, fairy-tale like and other-worldly; magical ethereal landscapes taken against stark backdrops of frozen lakes and the stark contours of Siberia. Check out her lush works of art here and here.

To Listen/Watch: A charming visual-poem, The Panda is Dancing, about how technology gets increasingly more engaging, and as AI and VR become more and more prevalent in our day-to-day lives we need to take a look at how we’re re-imagining our future.

To Cook: For some weekend baking, this orange and almond cake is not only gourmet-style delicious, but  it's also surprisingly easy - not following any of the rules of traditional baking. You first boil entire oranges in water for several hours, then pick out the bitter pips, and place these soggy fruits in a blender. You whizz it until it’s reduced to an orangey gloop. Then mix eggs, ground almonds, sugar and baking powder, and bake this deceptively simple liquid into a delicious cake with a dense, moist texture. 

To Watch: This Brazilian short film ‘Umbrella’ which is on the Oscar shortlist is only eight minutes long and doesn’t have a single line of dialogue. But you don’t need words to grasp this universal language of love, longing, loss and memory.

To Learn: This is one of the most comprehensive and insightful guides to meditation that we’ve read, acknowledging all the ways we can meditate, while being compassionate with ourselves as we push through. Meditation has so many “woo-woo” connotations, but the truth is that its formal practice isn’t about separateness, isolation or navel-gazing, but about living our lives, dancing our dance, savouring the moment.

And most importantly, so much of this path has to do with inspiration and all of it has to do with friendship. The author mentions a meditation teacher of his, Frances Brown, whose words held so much wisdom and resonance:

“I have been truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people on my journey and found it difficult to leave this place. Wherever you go in life, there will always be people who inspire you, teach you, guide and direct you. You will do the same in their lives. It's not what we do but how much we love that makes the difference. Live every moment as if it is your last, love the people in your life and give to those who need your love the most. Those who have been abandoned or rejected by their families or society and those who are shut in and have no one to talk to, need love. Reach out and touch a life. Learning to love unconditionally is the hardest thing to do but the most rewarding.”

And to sign off, we end with a poem that echoes the same thought, or paying it forward, using the light of those that inspired you to direct it through the prism of your existence and flood the night sky…

Parting Poem
By Johnny Miller

Lying under lunar limelight
Notice the jubilant firefly
Carving her signature
Into the thick of night.

Follow her phosphorescent line,
Up to a numinous thumbnail,
Cradling an Earth Shadow
Caught in a cobweb of stars.

Think of the ways in which
Your own shadow is revealed
By those, spinning in your orbit.

And how the world you inhabit is
Eclipsed by a thousand fragments
of projected, disowned Darkness.

Be still now.
Put down the weight
Of all that you know.
Recall your true nature.
As Sun. As Firefly.
Illuminate the cosmos.

Write your radiant love note
To the skies.
We hope you manage to find and bask in perfect slants of sunlight through your weekend,
Viv & Ami
P.S. If you are just joining us and would like to explore the Delights of Distraction newsletters No.1-41 you can find them here.

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