The Delights of Distraction No.59

Now that our cities have opened up, and we slowly and tentatively emerge from the second wave, many of us are taking stock of where our time went over the months. We saved time on commutes and bar-hopping, but seemed to use that all up with more zoom meetings, Netflix binges and anxiety-fuelled hand-wringing. Where did all the time go?

Perhaps we need to give up the ghost: time is not a separate thing that we can wield masterfully and conquer, that we can squeeze the most of like a citrus juicer. No matter how much you try to wrestle with it, time is destined to win this fight - because… well, we die! And considering time is finite, limited and un-pausable, at the end of the day there'll still be a million things that you could theoretically have done: books and articles you’ll never read, food you’ll never try, films and tv shows you’ll never watch and people you keep promising to meet, but let’s face it, the “we must catch up sometime”, never makes it into your physical schedule. 

On a Sunday, we hope you’re carving out sometime just for you and your personal joys. We leave you with this quote by the musician and poet, Gil Scott-Heron; hoping that our newsletter makes our way into the finitude of your weekend… that it happens to be worth your time :)

 "Life inevitably translates into time. That is why the sum total of it is called 'a lifetime'. Freedom is the potential to spend one's time in any fashion one determines. I would always want the time invested in my ideas to be profitable, to give the reader something lasting for their investment in me. It is very important to me that my ideas be understood. It is not as important that I be understood. I believe that this is a matter of respect; your most significant asset is your time and your commitment to invest a portion of it considering my ideas means it is worth a sincere attempt on my part to transmit the essence of the idea. If you are looking, I want to make sure that there is something here for you to find."

We hope there’s something for you to find amongst our favourite links of the week:

To read: British actor and author, Stephen Fry in his inimitable witty and wise prose, is always a delight to read. In this article he argues whether studying the classics is even relevant anymore.“For we are living at a time of fundamental cultural transformation. So much that once was natural, endemic and unquestioned is being doubted, refashioned, mocked or junked. Which forces us to articulate what we value.” Apparently we still value the age-old journey of adventure and transformation, filled by joy, sex, violence, laughter and ambiguity - so as long as we can re-imagine the classics to fit our modern language and culture tropes, they aren’t going anywhere for a while.   

A great dissection of the meaning of ‘success’ when seen through a long-term perspective. “I discovered that when we start to look at many of society’s ‘winners’ from a longer-term perspective, our common definition of success starts to buckle. Common images of what winning means focus almost entirely on a single moment in time: the winner on the podium, the announcement of a company’s annual profits, a legal battle won or the declaration of an electoral victory in politics.”

The OG goddess of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson has a delicious take on the pleasure of eating and savouring our food - a refreshing read in an ocean of health and fitness articles that gives us a zillion reasons to fear food and mark them as “good” or “bad”.

“The accepted notions of comfort eating and guilty pleasure, while different from one another, stem from the same Manichaean universe: a foodstuff is either good or bad; ditto the eater thereof. Thus people seek to deny themselves the tastes and textures they crave, and castigate themselves when they give in to temptation. From this comes the crippling sense of shame, which gives rise to the guilty pleasure. But truly, where is the pleasure when it provokes shame or guilt?”

To joy scroll: For some unmitigated delight infused into your day, do scroll through these adorable photos of hedgehog Azuki and her friends, living her best life in Japan - enjoying massages, tea parties and sassy fashion!

Kyle Ring is the founder of this diversity-celebrating account on instagram - an account that showcases non-white hair across the globe, an illuminating project on how hair percolates through our identity, histories and culture. On trying to identify the complex origins of dreadlocks he writes, “The earliest written reference of locks is found in Vedic scriptures, holy Hindu texts dating back to 1500BC, in which Lord Shiva’s hair is referred to as ‘jata’, a sanskrit word meaning “twisted locks of hair”. In almost all visual depictions of Lord Shiva, he is seen with locks of hair flowing past his shoulders or tied above his head in what is called, ‘jatamukuta’ (crown of matted hair). For devotees, Shiva’s hair is of such importance that the sacred river Ganges is believed to flow from his matted locks.” Read more about his fascinating project here

The Heritage Lab have listed their top favourite art gifs - a narrative moment in art works, that brings a moment in a classic painting to life in unexpected ways.  

To watch: Captivating piece art in animation form, using the current “scroll up” technique to unveil our current capitalistic structures, revealing a  sitemap of the human condition. We loved its simplicity and beautiful attention to detail.   

To ponder: This is an interactive website that will walk you through the process of figuring out which memory from your life to date you would choose to spend eternity reliving. The “Facilitation” process will ask you a series of questions like, “When was a moment you felt your most authentic self?” or “on a brilliant adventure?” or “in awe of something so much bigger than you?” or “knew you were in love?” and on and on until you’ve decided on your forever memory. You can then choose to record it and share it on the website. 

If you don’t wish to record your own experiences, you can spend time listening to others’ histories. There was a woman who lost her son seconds after giving birth and spent the night holding him in a hospital bed. She said it was her event horizon and in that moment there was no past or future. This was the moment she realized that the question of “Where do we go to when we die?” is actually the same question as “Where were we before we came into being?” 

To use: A simple website for your writing needs, that helps you find the perfect word instead of inserting the dreading “very” before every adjective.  

To WTF: McKay Coppins asked this question on twitter:

“My two oldest kids (8 and 6) ask me to tell them an “interesting fact” every night at bedtime. Having now exhausted my own supply of memorized trivia as well as several random lists on the internet, I’m taking suggestions below.”

Here are a sample of some of the ones we liked:

-Soap or even soap precursors weren't readily available in Ancient Greece and Rome, so when men got quite dirty and sweaty engaging in athletics, they would clean it all off by covering themselves in olive oil and then scraping the oil off with a metal instrument called a strigil.

- Cleopatra lived closer to the creation of the iPhone than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid

 - Bananas are berries

 - Sharks as a species are older than trees as a species. There were sharks swimming around on the planet before any trees.

To Cook: Wednesday, 7th of July is World Chocolate day! We thought we’d find one of those simple, pantry recipes you can rustle up in under an hour, and still enjoy some chocolate goodness without much fuss. One of these is the Afghan biscuit, which is a cookie that originated in New Zealand. The recipe begins with a buttery cocoa batter studded with ground cornflakes, which add a gritty crunch all the way through each bite. After baking, each cookie gets topped with chocolate icing and studded with a single walnut. The finished product is crispy, rich, salty-sweet, and addictive. Also in the same vein of easy-peasiness is this Marie-Biscuit cake of our childhood.

To life hack: Buy yourself a physical alarm clock. Go to bed early and park your phone outside your bedroom. Use your alarm clock for time-telling and to wake you up, instead of your phone alarm. You’ll sleep longer and better.

Holding the light  

by Stuart Kestenbaum

Gather up whatever is
glittering in the gutter,
whatever has tumbled
in the waves or fallen
in flames out of the sky,
for it’s not only our
hearts that are broken,
but the heart
of the world as well.
Stitch it back together.

Make a place where
the day speaks to the night
and the earth speaks to the sky.
Whether we created God
or God created us
it all comes down to this:
In our imperfect world
we are meant to repair
and stitch together
what beauty there is, stitch it
with compassion and wire.
See how everything
we have made gathers
the light inside itself
and overflows? A blessing.

Wishing you a week of little joys and big delights,  

Viv and Ami 

P.S. If you are just joining us and would like to explore the Delights of Distraction newsletters No.1-58 you can find them here. As per your requests, we have archived all the previous newsletters on our website.

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