The Delights of Distraction No.71: lead with authenticity and curiosity
And here we are, we suppose you’re reading this cloistered in your hovels. "Third year of the pandemic" used to be a phrase reserved for science fiction novels. Who knew 2020 would turn into a trilogy, as COVID is going from historical “event” to “era.” We don’t blame you if your optimism has stretch marks, from the constant expanding and shrinkage - we’re all wishing life would go back to precedented times. And yet, unprecedented times is what brought us here. We started this newsletter in the first wave, to open up a conversation, hoping for a vulnerable communication with our readers without assumption or mandate, during stressful times. The purpose - perhaps the most universal of all purposes, to be seen and to see you. The intention with this newsletter is to share our stories as founders grappling with the vagaries of the Indian business landscape, mental health challenges, social trappings and being women in the world, through the lens of poetry, design and wonder.
The north star philosophy that guides us, is to always lead with vulnerability and curiosity. That affirmation starts with committing to telling our story, meaning not just sharing the cold hard facts of our business and lives, but the feelings behind them. To tell our authentic story, warts and all, without the self-consciousness that comes with trying to make the best impression of ourselves. We hope that in revealing our flawed, messed-up insides, it provides you permission to celebrate your beautiful, broken, fractured insides too.
As we enter the middle of the first month of the new year we want to express our gratitude for you wonderful readers, who write in and tell us how they feel seen and heard, and we hope to continue this conversation for as long as you let us into your lives on a weekend afternoon.
And before our regular programming, please take a moment and consider the many reasons it’s good to be a thinking, feeling human living on this pale blue dot of a planet. Bats can hear shapes.
Plants can swallow light.
Birds can sing sonnets.
Bees can shit honey.
Dogs can sense sadness. And snuggle into your lap until the sadness melts into sunset. Tiny viruses smaller than a hair’s breadth can obliterate the perception of all these and turn the world upside down.
We can cradle all these thoughts at once, and be beholden to the absurd beauty of it all. And now, our faves of the week
To meditate: We normally have very little time for anything that claims to help us ‘relax’ via the medium of a screen but this one’s pretty mesmerizing. Click the link, click the button, and find yourself staring slack-jawed at a beautiful blue pool which will slowly calm to reveal the simple word ‘RELAX’ beneath the water.
To read: Written by Kate Harding, this is both a really smart essay which tackles all sorts of complicated questions about The Nature of The Text while being self-effacing and funny. And contains several truth bombs on what it’s like to observe conversations on social media. “Reading can make you feel close to someone without actually knowing them, a precious gift in a lonely world. But if the pleasure of reading is feeling connected to a distant stranger, then the pain of watching people read badly is its opposite: a severing of shared humanity. A cold, demoralizing reminder that we never can look inside each other’s minds, no matter how we try.”
This is an adapted excerpt from Rodrigo Garcia’s book A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes: A Son’s Memoir of Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha. Beautifully touching. “The death of a parent is like looking through a telescope one night and no longer finding a planet that has always been there. It has vanished, with its religion, its customs, its own peculiar habits and rituals, big and small. The echo remains. I think of my father every morning when I dry my back with a towel the way he taught me after seeing me struggling with it at the age of six. Much of his advice is always with me. (A favorite: be forgiving of your friends, so that they may be forgiving of you.)”
This year’s report from Unicode, telling us what the most-used emoji were globally in 2021. The headline here is that we are all still irredeemably basic, with the cry/laugh emoji accounting for a quite astonishing 5% of all global emoji (guilty as charged.)
To try: What improved your quality of life so much, you wish you did it sooner? - was asked by u/colorfulsoul_ on Reddit and the thread is worth scanning for ideas to adopt. Someone suggested placing your phone on permanent “Do not Disturb” only allowing calls from Contacts - which would save you from a lot of spammers. Other life improving tips were: breathing exercises, buying a good kitchen knife, separate blankets in beds for couples and stop watching 24-hour news channels.
To watch: "Rückenfigur" is the term for paintings that feature the subject from the back. This style of painting creates mystery because we can't see the subject's face. Wondering what expressions are registering on the subject draws us in to the work. Denying us the face of the central figure shifts importance to us (the viewers). It makes the painting feel as if we are the subjects. It makes the painting feel like it's first-person, which is a cool way to make a creative work more engaging. Watch the beautiful video essay of this revolutionazed lanscape painting by Nerdwriter.
To add to your lexicon: The term : “book-wrapt” - to describe the exhilarating comfort of a well-stocked library. To be surrounded by books is to be held rapt in an enchanted circle and to experience the rapture of being transported to other worlds.Individually, they are frequently useful or delightful, but it is when books are displayed en masse that they really work wonders. A visit to any of our homes would have you convinced that we are whole-hearted evangelists to this phenomenon; floor to ceiling covering the walls of a room - books nourish the senses, slay boredom and relieve distress.
To cook: An accidental online food order resulted in kilos of excess cauliflower being delivered to the home over the weekend. Other than gobi paranthas and creamed cauliflower mash, we discovered this recipe by Ottolenghi, and it's our new obsession.
To play: The latest viral game everyone is playing. Easy to get into, simple interface, approachable mechanics, no wonder it’s a hit. The rest of your curfew time sorted.
To Life hack: Extracted from the book: Tiny Habits: BJ Fogg
“Before making a decision, ask yourself these two questions: “Will it help you do what you already want to do? Will it help you feel successful? The answers to those questions is freeing because if the change program doesn’t satisfy these two requirements, it’s not worth your time. ”
I Am Learning to Abandon the World
BY LINDA PASTAN
I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.
Have a cozy, healthy week and hope you enjoy the occasional slants of sunrays that enter your windows,
Viv & Ami
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