Inspiration for aspiring artists, photographers challenging Middle East stereotypes, and a photo essay are some of the highlights in this issue. We also have a podcast recommendation from a polarizing figure that’s sure to make you think and reflect, a long read on a gathering of van lifers, and four things I’m digging lately. Finally, we end with a personal update from a recently transformative experience.
◦ selected words
Want to Be An Artist? Watch Groundhog Day
Last Friday was Groundhog Day, where many dusted off the old DVD player and loaded up the 1993 classic comedy starring Bill Murray. Austin Kleon, artist and author of one of my favorite newsletters, sums up the movie and its existential questions under the lens of becoming an artist, with inspiration for anyone swaying off the path to persist and continue the creative journey.
Austin Kleon (8min read)
How to Learn to Draw is About Learning to Learn
So you want to draw. You buy some art supplies, mash out some sketches that look like you just learned to write the alphabet, and you inevitably get discouraged. Or maybe you’ve been drawing for a while, but never felt confident with your stroke. Where do you go from here? This excellent piece gives real yet unconventional advice addressing unrealistic comparisons, learning to learn, progress, and struggle.
Danny Gregory (6min read)
The Photographers Challenging Middle East Stereotypes
Living two years in the Middle East and frustrated by how nations in the region were portrayed in media, photojournalist Lindsay McKenzie responds in a beautiful way — creating “Everyday Middle East”, a photo project to challenge stereotypes.
CNN (3min read)
Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories
A photo essay with amazing shots of the manufacturing process at The General Pencil Company, producing pencils since 1889. The photos are simply stunning and are like a trip back in time.
The New York Times Magazine (3min read)
The Making of Blue Planet 2’s Deep Ocean Episode
I’m still obsessed with Blue Planet, and probably one of the last people in this email list to have watched it. If you didn’t get enough from the Behind the Scenes clip, science writer Ed Yong asks the lead producer how her team managed the atmospheric lighting, and scientific firsts including the lake at the bottom of the ocean (you read that right) and the first recorded whale fall. Hint: she has 250 scientists regularly emailing her cool ideas to shoot.
The Atlantic (9min read)
◦ listen in
Jordan B. Peterson on the Joe Rogan Experience #1070
A viral video is circulating of the controversy magnet, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, after a debate on Channel 4 News where he was bombarded with attacks by the interviewer. As an unfazed Peterson points out, the more people attack him, the more he benefits. Making media appearances to promote his new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, JBP is one to pay attention to for the way he articulates cultural issues of our time. And yesterday, The Globe & Mail wrote an article “How Awful is Jordan Peterson, Anyways”, an op-ed on whether his position as a leading intellectual and thought leader is in line with his recent popularity (and financial success). The 1h28m-1hr40m section on a Biblical translation of meekness and being against competition is well articulated. I’ll probably receive flak from posting this, as he elicits strong feelings, but I’m open to dialog.
Joe Rogan Experience podcast on YouTube (2hr28min podcast)
◦ eat well
An Indian American’s Take on Golden Milk
Over the last two years, turmeric milk, traditionally known as “haldi doodh” but lately marketed as “turmeric latte” or “golden milk”, spread to hip cafés and wellness blogs like wildfire. The author shares what the “elixir” means to her, growing up in America. Her recipe is as simple as it gets (microwave warning).
◦ read slow
On the Road Again, and Again, and Again
For two weeks, on several acres of federal land next to Quartzsite, Arizona, what’s sometimes called Burning Man for retirees takes place. This annual free gathering of converted delivery trucks, RV’s, and “Skoolies”, has another thing in common — a distaste for consumerist society. Dubbed the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, or RTR for short, nomads, retirees, minimalists living out of Prius’, and a YouTube star are among those that make the drive to share tips on living on the road and to share a temporary feeling of community from many who would call themselves introverts.
The New York Times (14min read)
◦ current read
The Stars My Destination
I haven’t read a book since the last issue, but as a tribute to SpaceX’s almost-perfect launch of the Falcon Heavy today, I’ll recommend one of my favorites that Neil Gaiman called “the perfect cyberpunk novel”, written 17 years before Blade Runner. Widely considered one of the top sci-fi novels of all-time, Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination has it all — a telepath, radioactive hitmen, an evil millionaire, enlightenment, and an albino who sees infra-red — packed into 258 pages. A film has been in the works for years, but it’s been said it’s almost unfilmable.
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, 1955 (258p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- Dollar Street Project – Photographers were sent to 264 families in 50 countries to see how people really live. Use the slider to compare everything from houses, beds, toilets, teeth and toys, all by country and income. Then try the filters “Things I dream of having” and “Most loved items”. (Source: TED Talk)
- Time Well Spent Evolved – Tristan Harris’ well received project confronting the technology’s hijacking of attention has spawned the Center for Humane Technology, with industry partners on board.
- Game of Thrones Creators Do Star Wars – Sought after writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have signed on to write and produce a new series of Star Wars stories unrelated to the current movies.
- First Aid Kit – Ruins – The Swedish folk sisters thrust into the international spotlight a decade ago with their harmonic YouTube cover of the Fleet Foxes Tiger Mountain Peasant Song are back with their fourth album. I’ll brag that I’ve seen them twice in concert. (Thanks to Casey for introducing me to them many years ago!)
◦ humble thought
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
I posted this on my personal Facebook post yesterday, so if you read that, I have nothing new for you except a nasty flu bug I’m nursing after overdoing it the past few weeks. 🙂
The entire post:
Wow. The last two weeks have filled my heart with more than I could’ve hoped for. It’s been such an incredible experience and I’m so grateful to have shared it with 20 beautiful souls, some coming all the way for this teacher training from Germany, Singapore, China, Alaska, Calgary, Montreal, Fort Mac, the islands and the US.
I can still remember on the first day, the anxiety bubbling up deep in my stomach in anticipation of the afternoon teaching scenarios and performances (zero stage background here!). But with so much support and encouragement, little by little that uncomfortable feeling dissolved (but never quite goes away). For me, it was a breakthrough to step into the teaching role and lead a room with not much time to prepare. This training has given me the agency and confidence to teach and share something that has had such a positive impact on my life.
And every day, with the support of this group, I was able to put the negative thoughts aside, pushing my body to places I didn’t think was possible. Eventually I’d learn to love the morning conditioning sessions (3min 30s back planks), but I still have no love for all those pooping ballerinas (120 murderous squats by day 10!).
An enormous thank you to you fellow teachers for showing up every day (and on time!) through jet lag, aching bodies, and that nasty cold bug. Thank you a million times over for your openness, honesty, support, laughs, healing hands, and cuddle puddles. And a special thanks to my Montréal connection Sebastien for your enthusiasm, humor, and presence, flying 5,000km to share this life experience.
And I can’t express my thanks enough to the VancityAcro teachers who gave so much during these two weeks, plus the countless hours of preparation. Slava, Devon, and Millissa, thank you so much for your time, groundedness, selfless sharing, and dedication to the movement arts and teaching craft. I feel so lucky to have been able to witness the magic the three of you created together each day, weaving in technique, wisdom, connection, and communication while keeping the training engaging, challenging, and fun. It’s hard to believe the three of you hadn’t done a TT together before, but that’s a testament to your preparation, knowledge, and experience. And finally, thank you so much for your immense contributions to the best Acro community in the world. It was an honor to be your student. You are all so inspiring.
I can now say I’m an AcroYoga Teacher, and step into that space with newfound confidence, while knowing there is so much more to learn. I’m excited and looking forward to what the future brings, with new knowledge, a full heart, and 22 lifelong friends. <3