The Delights of Distraction No.72: What We Would Like More Of

Like everyone else in Delhi in intermittent phases of lockdown, and personal mind-sucking bandwidth, our brains haven’t had much exposure to sunlight and good ol’ Vitamin D, so they feel like they’re made of mush right now. Therefore this issue is gonna be short, though with our usual sprinkle of good vibes and favourite links. 

As we round up on the end of the first month of 2022, here’s to some things we’d like more of: 

– more listening. Less talking 
– more present. Less overwhelmed. 
– more dancing. Alone to a guilty pleasure playlist. 
– long walks, some with podcasts, some with the sounds of the world around us. – “dont be judgemental, be curious” (Ted Lasso style) 
- more grounded and less confused. 
– remembering that fear is the absence of love 
– more stillness and self-trust 
– notice when the universe is conspiring to cheer us on 
– more parties… in the heart, as opposed to “da club”. 
– clarity and decision-making 
– being open to love and feeling deserving of it. 

And here are some of our faves of the week: 

To read: As women who never grew up in Delhi, and were carted through different schools in our childhoods, the need to develop roots and a sense of home runs deep in our veins. We loved this substack post by Simon Sarris, on finding belonging in the familiar and everyday. “Belonging: To belong is to possess a kind of irreplaceable familiarity. If you love your family, it is clearly not interchangeable with another family. When you love your home or city, or some club or cafe, you cannot swap for any other and feel the same. People seek meaningful places worthy of calling home. These can be found, adventure tells us, but belonging reminds us that with our own efforts they can (they must) be made. All worthy places were once unworthy, after all.” 

We loved this beautiful meditation on the unfolding nature of discovering one’s humane-ness, as the author patiently hones his craft in photographing spiders. In his essay on “5 Things Photographing Spiders Taught Me About Humans”, Hormeze analyzes his man-made filters, burdened through “lockdown brain,” and transitions into “opened-up heart”, alongside some beautiful shots of what we might construe as tiny hairy monsters, but hopefully by the end of the article you’d see as illuminations of beauty.

To joy scroll: Kristen Meyer’s meticulously beautiful flat lays are a joy to behold. Influenced by interior decorating, prop styling, and floristry, the American designer constructs precise geometric shapes and network-esque compositions from humble materials like eggshell shards, office supplies, candy, and our favourite - cheese and crackers! 

To trend: The pandemic era has definitively changed attitudes towards science and health. And according to the American Psychological Association, psychologists are currently the most requested experts on mainstream media. Here are 14 Emerging Trends in psychology to be aware of. 

To watch: Do watch this short documentary film Powers of Ten, written and directed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1977. (Yes, the famous designer of that Eames chair!) The film was and still is a powerful illustration of the vastness of our universe. As an homage, the BBC and particle physicist Brian Cox have created an updated version that reflects what we’ve learned about the universe in the 45 years since Powers of Ten was made. The new video zooms out to the limits of our current observational powers, to about 100 billion light years away, 1000X wider than in the original. It’s a beautiful rendition of the scale of the cosmos and all its wonders in under 10 minutes. 

To listen: What’s the greatest guitar solo of all time? ran a poll on this, and present the results here, alongside a look at the stories behind the songs and find out just what made those lead guitar breaks so great.

To lexicon: Solastalgia is the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault” (e.g. by climate change).  Again, a feeling quite viscerally experienced in Delhi, a city we imagined with Gulmohar-lined boulevards against the soundscape of birdsong, that’s metamorphed over the last couple of decades into a traffic-choked concrete jungle. 

To cook: Why does biryani mean so much to so many people from - the bottom tip-most of India to Pakistan? This wonderful piece, by Ahmer Naqvi, answers the question by taking us to the streets of Karachi, where biryani reigns. “After a lengthy and detailed discourse, he settled on three favourites. “Nutmeg, mace and cinnamon,” he said. “I consider these to be the lifeblood of a biryani. If you can master these three, you will become the king of this line of work.” 

To life hack: Some of our picks from this article in the Guardian on 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying: 

12. Sharpen your knives. 
25. Look closely. 
27. If possible, take the stairs. 
35. Eat salted butter (life’s too short for unsalted). 
59 Always have dessert. 
66 Don’t save things for “best”. Wear them – enjoy them. 
75. Keep your keys in the same place. 
89. Politely decline invitations if you don’t want to go. 
91 If in doubt, add cheese. 
92 Don’t look at your phone at dinner. 
93 Do that one thing you’ve been putting off. 
94 Give compliments widely and freely.  

Though of course, in true Delights of Distraction style of advice taking and giving, you can do the opposite of it all and you’ll be fine. You do you, boo! 

To end: Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful words ever written by a cockroach (Archy). Created by Don Marquis, Archy was a former free verse poet who "sees life from the underside now." He wasn't able to reach the shift key so everything he wrote was in lower case. We love his treatise on bucking convention, the transcendent, destructive power of beauty and the courage to wear your soul on your sleeve. 

The Lesson of the Moth 
By Don Marquis 
i was talking to a moth 
the other evening 
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb 
and fry himself on the wires 
why do you fellows 
pull this stunt i asked him because it is the conventional thing for moths or why 
if that had been an uncovered candle instead of an electric light bulb you would 
now be a small unsightly cinder have you no sense 
plenty of it he answered 
but at times we get tired 
of using it 
we get bored with the routine and crave beauty 
and excitement 
fire is beautiful 
and we know that if we get too close it will kill us 
but what does that matter it is better to be happy 
for a moment 
and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time 
and be bored all the while so we wad all our life up 
into one little roll 
and then we shoot the roll that is what life is for 
it is better to be a part of beauty for one instant and then cease to exist than to exist forever and never be a part of beauty our attitude toward life 
is come easy go easy 
we are like human beings used to be before they became too civilized to enjoy themselves 
and before i could argue him out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself 
on a patent cigar lighter 
i do not agree with him 
myself i would rather have 
half the happiness and twice 
the longevity 

but at the same time i wish 
there was something i wanted 
as badly as he wanted to fry himself 

May you all be blessed with double the happiness and quadruple the health this week, see you next weekend,

Viv & Ami


P.S. If you are just joining us, you can browse the archives of this newsletter here.


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