Our capacity for relaxed presence

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 highlight has been the comments. Here's a sample...

What about you? There is still plenty of time to share your insights.

Uncommon reads

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?

Your turn

What's the best advice you've received?