The Delights of Distraction No.77: To Have or Not To Have

It’s Viv and Ami, co-founders of The Wishing Chair and your weekly curators of stuff we found around the web that we thought you might like to read, watch, listen to or just enjoy. Thanks for being here :) 

Sometimes we look around our office, and think about what a scrappy little bunch we are. Located in the armpit of Shahpur Jat, an urban village, sandwiched between a pile of garbage and belligerent, hookah-snorting landlords. We’ve been a decade in the business, and here’s where the magic happens? Not in some fancy-shmancy office in a glass tower with gilded parking spots with suited-booted corporate creatures for neighbors, instead of the occasional buffalo… 

It had us reflecting on this phenomena in the book The Hidden Life of Trees, by author Peter Wohlleben: “It’s no surprise that spruce growing in areas with abundant moisture are [affected so adversely by dry conditions]: they are spoiled. Barely half a mile away, on a dry, stony, south-facing slope, things look very different. At first, I had expected damage to the spruce trees here because of severe summer drought. What I observed was just the opposite. The tough trees that grow on this slope are well versed in the practices of denial and can withstand far worse conditions than their colleagues who are spoiled for water. Even though there is much less water available here year round — because the soil retains less water and the sun burns much hotter - the spruce growing here are thriving. They grow considerably more slowly, clearly make better use of what little water there is, and survive even extreme years fairly well.” 

Trees that grow in areas with lots of moisture are lavish in their water use. 

Because they are used to abundance, they use almost all of their water for growth, not thinking to stockpile away some of it for a “non-rainy day,” so to speak. 
And so when a drought hits, those trees pay they consequences: Their dry bark tears from tension, opening deep wounds that fungus and insects are quick to penetrate. This causes a great setback in the growth and health of the tree, and can occasionally even lead to a premature death. 

But this isn’t a phenomenon that happens to all trees - only those have never lived without abundance. 

We suppose that is the story of all boot-strapped businesses. You make do with what little you have, and grow strong roots in dry soil. 
The less you need, the richer you become. 
Like the spoiled spruce: The more we desire, the more fragile we become. 

So we gaze out of our warehouse studio, keeping our eyeline above the horizon to ignore the chaotic urban village beneath. The light is lovely, its rays filtering through the windows upon a business that is not just growing, but thriving. 

To listen: The Delights of Distraction is not the place for you to read about politics and war, and will never be. However, the Explained team at Vox produced the episode "A phone call from Ukraine" mere hours after news broke on the Russian invasion. In a candid conversation with two Ukrainians, co-host Noel King listened intently to their worries, resilience, and humor. While every news organization on the planet was producing their version of what was happening, we learned so much more hearing directly from people living through the circumstances. The voices of Kurii Vasyl and his niece Yulya have stuck with us as we continue to watch war unfold.  

To joy scroll: We came upon this Pakistani artist and architect Bibi Hajra’s work in a news feed that spoke of reimagining public spaces in the South Asian region as safe spaces for men and women alike. This artist playfully captures people in places, with minute detail; and some of her artworks replace men with women - in rebellious fist bump of reclaitionaming public spaces. Her website features some of her work, and allows you to zoom in on the images , so you can marvel at all the quirky detailing. You can check out a full gamut of her work on Instagram

Also, A wonderful collection of images exploring the complexities of love – the joys, failures, self-love, family love, and everything in between. 

To read: The infinite variety of love is a powerful rebuttal to the dominant psychological understanding of emotion. Rather than denying that "the past can shed light on the human heart and brain" as many in the field do, we should see the differing ways that cultures tell stories about love as illuminating. Feelings "come in untidy combinations that need to be put into narrative order. 

lovely essay on the perennial love that children readers hold for fictional animal characters. 

Hey - Elon! Rocket ships to Mars is great and all; but there’s going to be plenty of recreational time in space - have you guys figured out how people are going to bonk up there? This article pushes for how we need to figure out sex in space for human survival and well being. 

To Life Hack: Read to Become a Better Person! 
It’s true: psychologist David Comer Kidd found that fiction enthusiasts are more empathetic. They’re also less stressed, anxious, and depressed, and enjoy better rest. And long-term readers who are privy to fictional characters’ minds become better able to understand others’ thoughts, desires, and beliefs in real life — what psychologists call “a theory of mind.” 

This is perhaps why the therapeutic field of bibliotherapy has become increasingly popular. A bibliotherapist helps you work through emotional issues, clarify goals, and solve problems using genres from fiction to memoir, self-help, and philosophy. This approach improves self-esteem, self-awareness, and self-efficacy, which, in turn, helps you be more present, patient, and loving. 

So, if you’ve always enjoyed reading but don’t make the time, or even if reading’s not your jam, now’s the perfect time to turn the page. 

To play: A quick and fun wiki trivia game that tests your timeline history; you have to correctly slide the event cards into a relative timeline of when you think it occurred. 

To watch: This beautiful animation video is in tonal themes with the short listening story we shared last week by Alan Watts. 

The video is about the unexpected events that follow in Eric's life when his dog Nova, chases a rabbit in the park. The Nova Effect illustrates that we never really know whether an event is fortune or misfortune, we only know our ever-changing reactions to ever-changing events. 

''The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it's really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad, because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune, or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.'' - Alan Watt 

To forecast: Prediction is hazardous, especially about the future. - Danish Proverb. 
And yet, it’s fun to gaze into the crystal ball of the future; some predictions ifor 2050 include the elimination of short-sightedness, the usurption of Taiwan into POC, less traffic…read more here

To cook: John Green shares his technique for roasting potatoes while fighting “the creeping sense of dread” that many of us may be experiencing right now. 
All right, let’s make some potatoes. You want enough potatoes that they will sustain the sack of flesh that contains your soul for several hours. And ideally you want these little red potatoes, which you then cut into sixths — or eighths if they’re too big. Don’t overthink the size of your potato wedges but also don’t underthink it. This is the key not just for cooking but also for most things 

To quote: “Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert 

To ponder: We thought about this concept a lot while VCs were speaking to us about funding and how we value our business. 

Be wary of framing your creative work as products. 
The success of products on a spreadsheet is only measured in money. 
According to that measure, sunlight is worthless, trees are cheap, and short-term profit is worth long-term damage. Choose wiser metrics for your creations! We choose Joy. Love. Beauty. Fulfillment. 

To end: We always choose to end in poetry, because it manages rise up when official language fails us. It gives voice to the ineffable within us, and rings that tiny bell in our chest with what is human and what is true…. how we connect and what questions we hold. Today, in the labyrinthine mires of the socio-political drama, we bring you: 

The Peace of Wild Things 
By Wendell Berry 

When despair for the world grows in me 
and I wake in the night at the least sound 
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake 
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things 
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars 
waiting with their light. For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 

You can also watch this beautiful poem come to life with charming illustration and animation here.

Have a lovely weekend and thank you all for reading and writing in. You are all so generous with your praise and love. We’re glad to share this time and context with you.

Viv and Ami

P.S. If you are just joining us you can explore all the previous editions here. If you would like to sign someone up for the newsletter, you can just reply to this email. 

P.S.S. Wishing we could be kids again just so we could have this adventurous rug in our room!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like