Nearly every other week for the past nine months, I have written you a letter. This letter-writing habit has evolved into a ritual of sorts. It goes like this.
As the appointed time for letter-writing approaches, I get a little stage fright. I start to worry about what you might like to read and what you might not like to read. I pace and procrastinate by snacking, snoozing, and walking the dog, while the wheels begin to turn.
Eventually, I settle into a rocking chair and put my feet up. From this angle, I am able to convince myself that nothing very terrible could possibly transpire while one is reclining so leisurely. By the time I open the laptop and find my way to a blank screen, I remember how much we have in common and how much we have to catch up on since last time. Suddenly I am simply telling a story to a thoughtful and curious friend.
We’ve learned a lot about each other since our correspondence began. You know how I feel about front porches, and I know how you feel about notebooks, conversation, and whiskey. So when Brian asked for feedback last week, my heart skipped a beat. Now that we’ve all settled in with pillows and drinks, I am so excited to hear your thoughts about how things are going, what seems just right, and what could be better or different. (And perhaps, with that in mind, I can minimize the worrying portion of my ritual going forward.)
I have often received interesting advice from strangers, but the best feedback I’ve ever received has come from friends. It grows out of long conversations in the context of even longer relationships. It builds on what’s past and gives a gentle nod to what may be. Thank you for being a part of the journey thus far and for your role in shaping what’s to come. — Lisa
Last week's dispatch asked, What would a better dispatch look like to you? An amazing collection of ideas and feedback followed. We can't thank you enough. A few tidbits so far...
- The most popular day of the week preference after Tuesday is Friday.
- About the same number of people wish the dispatch was shorter as wish it was longer. The same holds true for more often and less often.
- So on the logistics side of things, most enjoy the current rhythm.
The highlight has been the comments. Here's a sample...
- It would be nice to have the newsletter branded up a bit so when I see it, straight away I know it's an Uncommon email.
- I appreciate your awareness of 'not enough time' and your consistent commitment to quality conversation.
- Took a few weeks of watching and reading to understand what was going on and a quick FAQ link at the bottom might have helped when first reading.
- I love the idea of an Uncommon podcast with interviews with interesting people. More essays would be nice, a long form introduction to other writers.
- The opening essay is always the best. I glean a lot of inspiration from it.
- Perhaps a timeline of where we are in the progress of Uncommon would be nice.
- I apparently have no imagination and like it just the way it is.
- Would love to see photos along side people's submitted responses to the prompt, when applicable.
- The newsletter is always concise and inspiring.
- I don't really know any of the other people who are getting the dispatch - the responses to the prompts are good, but I think more could be done to bring us together as a community.
- When I see its minimal design my brain relaxes and reading the newsletter is a soothing exercise, akin to my daily meditation.
- Love the personal tone. Just wish that there is a way to connect to others who also read the dispatch.
What about you? There is still plenty of time to share your insights.
The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World, an interview with Linda Stone by James Fallows (plus, the uncut version):
When we learn how to play a sport or an instrument; how to dance or sing; or even how to fly a plane, we learn how to breathe and how to sit or stand in a way that supports a state of relaxed presence. [...] All of these activities help us cultivate our capacity for relaxed presence. Mind and body in the same place at the same time.
On Changing the World by Cennydd Bowles:
Designers and engineers alike need to think deeply about the implications of the things we make, and appreciate the value of doing so. We also need role models. I long for our industry to stop fetishizing entrepreneurs and billion-dollar buyouts, and instead to praise technologists who inform the public about new technology, or companies that make tough decisions for the greater good.
Does Great Literature Make Us Better? by Gregory Currie:
What sort of evidence could we present? Well, we can point to specific examples of our fellows who have become more caring, wiser people through encounters with literature. Indeed, we are such people ourselves, aren’t we?
What's the best advice you've received?