Photo by the author
Embracing mediocrity in the pursuit of leisure, the dissonance between how much you think about others and how much they think about you (not that much), and poetry for mental health are some of the best reads from the last two weeks. In our long read, follow an unlikely farmer’s dream of a tiny apple legacy, and listen to the author of a hilarious viral Medium article on women and drinking culture. Finally, check out the Broadway play, folk artist, twin photo project, and Earthrise, an Op-Ed doc from the author of Spiritual Ecology in the digs.
◦ selected words
Do you remember when we used to occupy ourselves with hobbies, just for the fun of it? Not to make a viral video, or create an Instagram following, or to get sponsored by Red Bull. “To permit yourself to do only that which you are good at is to be trapped in a cage whose bars are not steel but self-judgment.” We’ve become too serious and demanding on ourselves, especially when the activity we engaged in once for pleasure begins to mix in with our identity. It may not be civilization in decline, as the author argues, but take this as a reminder of what it means to have a hobby.
The New York Times (4min read)
I once read that the number one cause of stress at work is thinking that your job is important. If you get hit by a bus, your family will grieve, your coworkers will also but they’ll move on even quicker, and eventually your job will be filled (with exceptions). This potent article takes this philosophy one step further, questioning the reader, how much time do you spend thinking about other people? Not that much, because you’re mostly concerned with yourself and your multitude of problems. So don’t put too much weight in how others perceive you or judge you, we’re all dealing with our own shit.
Blake Gossard on Medium.com (5min read)
I’m a remote worker, and as work becomes more flexible, broadband more ubiquitous, and travel cheaper than ever, I’ve noticed more people attracted to the glamour of nomad life without considering the uglier side not on Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel and recognize my privilege in being able to. It’s contributed greatly to the person I am today, instilling a calm and an understanding that we are all seeking for the same things. It’s expanded my comfort zone and gave a scrawny sheltered kid from the suburbs a confidence and agency to handle stressful situations and connect with people despite language and cultural barriers. However, there are trade-offs not often taled about in health, community, and relationships, as summed up well in this article from the founder of Doist, a remote-first company.
Doist Blog (9min read)
Poetry is experiencing a renaissance, with poets at literary festivals attracting large crowds, and the most prestigious awards and fellowships being granted to young poets from countries not known for their writers, like China, El Salvador, Haiti, Iran, Jamaica, Korea, Vietnam. If you’re like me, poetry was the two weeks of English class with limericks and haikus that you could never fully grasp. Poetry was scary, and still is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. In our fast-moving world, it can be the medicine for our distracted lives.
The Guardian (6min read)
◦ listen in
“Do you remember the Enjoli perfume commercial from the 1970s? The chick who could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man? I blame that bitch for a lot.” Published on Medium two years ago, this story confronts “having it all” culture — socially accepted forms of alcohol dependence in overworked women — with tenderness and sharp wit. Stay until 22:28 when Medium interviews author and Amazon employee Kristi Coulter, discussing its success, readers’ sometimes angry responses, first-world problems, and her book deal that came as the essay went viral.
Medium Playback – Episode 5 (39min podcast)
Apple / Spotify / Pocket Casts
◦ eat well
What to do with leftover pesto? Soup is likely not the first thing that comes to mind, but it gives your soup a savoury complexity from just a tablespoon per bowl. For this recipe, I substituted the peas for edadame beans for an extra protein boost, and added sliced cherry tomatoes which complement the white beans.
BBC Good Food
◦ read slow
On 17 acres of Victoria’s Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s agricultural treasures, a couple have created something remarkable — a tiny apple sought after by the high-end hotels and restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne. The story of a reluctant 75 year-old man with no farming background, slowly working the land for forty years the same way, searching for a legacy.
ABC Australia (14min read)
◦ current read
Split into three sections: The Perennial Problem, The Way to Wake Up and Free Mind, author Steve Hagen demystifies Buddhism, focusing on its practical applications rather than the history and religion. He explains: “Real Buddhism is not really an ‘ism.’ It’s a process, an awareness, an openness, a spirit of inquiry – not a belief system, or even (as we normally understand it) a religion. It is more accurate to call it ‘the teaching of the awakened,’ or the buddha-dharma.” A clear introduction to Buddhist thought for newcomers interested more in the philosophy than the religion, this was one of my first reads when venturing into mindfulness and meditation over a decade ago.
Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen (172p)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- Book of Mormon – South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone teamed up with Avenue Q and Frozen songwriter Robert Lopez to produce this hilarious Tony Award winning Broadway play, and I was lucky this past weekend to get a ticket. The song “Turn it Off” satires the culture of avoidance and suppression of feelings. (YouTube 4m30s)
- Twins in Pictures – London-based photographer Peter Zelewski’s emotive portraits of identical twins.
- Earthrise – Spiritual Ecology & Emergence Magazine founder Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee created this documentary to simulate the human connection to the Earth the astronauts felt in 1968. (NYTimes Op-Docs – 30min)
- Julia Jacklin – Last night at the QE Theatre, Swedish sisters First Aid Kit brought back the Australian opener for a cover of Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton & Linda Rondstadt covering Neil Young’s After the Goldrush. (Spotify Artist / YouTube 4min / NPR Tiny Desk)
◦ humble thought
“To be everywhere is to be nowhere. People who spend their whole life traveling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendships.”
I don’t know what’s taken me so long, but I finally made it out to Salt Spring Island last week. People that have been all want to go back, and I can see why now. The new age harp on the special energy of the area, Coast Salish territory, first settled in the mid-1800’s by African Americans escaping racism in San Francisco and later Hawaiians and Japanese laborers, though the place is as white as Portland. In the summer, the town of 10,500 swells with tourists, with many local artists making their income selling wares to wealthy visitors at the Saturday market.
Eckhart Tolle owns a summer property here, while many other homes have been taken off the market to be AirBnB’d to rich Albertans flying in for a week on the sunny island located below the 49th parallel. You thought the housing crisis was bad in Vancouver or Ucluelet? Salt Spring Island is run by a trust which limits development, since their mission is to preserve the communities, culture and environment of the island — and it’s less than a two-hour direct ferry away on the weekends.
To briefly give you an idea what it’s like here, here are some of my experiences from my too-short five-day trip:
- Day 1: Stayed in a homestead with seven adults that probably fits five. Two goats were out back with the sole purpose of cutting the grass.
- Day 2: A rocking potluck with an incredible fiddler from Kamouraska Quebec, where everyone seemed to be a musician, and I was taught an Irish folk dance.
- Day 3: A community potluck at Aloha Aina, an intentional community and permaculture farm created by an ex-Calgarian real estate developer spreading the wisdom of The Four Agreements.
- Day 4: Walked to the #1 Tripadvisor destination, a cheese factory, for a free tasting of goat cheese. Stopped by several farmstands that operate on the honor system (put money in a box, take items from the cooler). Then hitchhiked to Ruckle Park, an accepted form of transportation. I caught rides from four different drivers, all very kind and friendly locals.
- Day 5: Took part in a morning meditation and gratitude circle, singing a three-line mantra around a table with the writings of Osho and the smell of palo alto.
What a place. What a bubble.