1) I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who walks around with my head in the clouds – or buried in my smartphone – too much of the time. But sometimes I remember that whatever moment I’m in is a “never again” moment, and I stop and pay attention. And sometimes I go on a deliberate quest to notice. That’s the subject of this month’s blog post. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to post in the comments section on my blog page and start a conversation.
2) In the aforesaid post I referenced The Art of Noticing – a delightful book that inspires us to look at the world more attentively and see it in new and wonderful ways. Rob Walker, the author, also publishes a TAoN newsletter, in which he shares more ideas and prompts for paying attention. Recently he floated the idea of keeping a “never again” journal to record moments that will never happen again in the same way, and I decided to take up the offer. I emailed him to let him know his idea had taken root and sent him a photo of my tiny journal. Imagine how thrilled I was to hear back from him asking if he could share it in his newsletter – and how even more thrilled I was to see it written up in his next issue under the heading Dept. of Inspiring Readers! Not only that, but another TAoN reader, Jeremy Caplan, picked up on it and featured my journal in his WonderTools newsletter! I’m thoroughly enjoying my moment of nano-fame. (And the WonderTools newsletter is very cool too, by the way.)
3) What if you went to a restaurant and the server delivered a meal you didn’t order? That’s what might happen if you ate at the Restaurant of Mistaken Orders, a pop-up restaurant in Tokyo that only staffs people living with dementia. Why? Because Shiro Oguni, the restaurant’s founder, wanted to “spread dementia awareness and to make society just that little bit more open minded and relaxed.” And it’s working. According to staff calculations, “37% of orders are generally mistaken, but 99% of the customers declared themselves happy.” I’m happy just thinking about this. (Also: if I ever get dementia, I’m applying for a job there!)
4) And while we’re on the subject: if I ever get dementia and have to be moved out of my home, I want to live in a place like this. (Though unfortunately, not being government funded, it’s well beyond my pay scale. Hello, government: time to normalize this kind of care, please.)
5) You know how some people come up with stuff you would never in a million years imagine doing? Like crushing objects in a hydraulic press to see what will happen to them? (Yep, it’s a thing, and it’s weirdly satisfying.) Well, then there’s next-level “I would never imagine,” as exemplified by Sarah “Smac” McCreanor’s hydraulic press interpretive dances. You read that right. Watch and be delighted.
6) One of my all-time favourite comic strips is Calvin and Hobbes. Besides being hilarious, it’s also wise, psychologically astute, and deeply philosophical. (In fact, I remember someone telling me it was the favourite comic of philosophy majors – which, as a former philosophy major myself, doesn’t surprise me in the least.) Author Bill Watterson broke his fans’ hearts when he stopped publishing the strip in 1995, leaving us with only our volumes of collected C&H comic strips to revisit fondly over the years. But great news: he’s resurfaced with The Mysteries, a “fable for grown-ups” that “dares to intimate the big questions about our place in the universe.” It’s due for release in October – just in time for my birthday. Yes, please!
7) Quote of the month: “Even our deepest convictions, it seemed to me, arise only out of a patient, step-by-step commitment to the details of the day, and only by paying the closest attention to the minutiae of this world could one begin to make out the lineaments of some other.” – Pico Iyer, Tropical Classical
8) I couldn’t stay on theme for my playlist this month – there just isn’t a lot of music about noticing! But hey, it’s July, so here are some summery sounds to go with your frozen margarita.
9) This month’s photo isn’t a single photo. It’s a collage of little snapshots I took during one of my “Covid walks” when I decided to pay attention to the sidewalk.