1. This week I read an article by David Cain on How to Become a Luckier Person Overnight. We’ve been hearing for a while now that consciously practising gratitude makes us not only nicer but happier too, and David suggests a radical approach – can we be grateful even for our misfortunes? And if we can, what does this mean for our happiness, and even our luck?
I’ve been thinking about his approach this week, wondering about applying it to my own thinking. At times, I’ve felt a bit fraudulent – all my woes, it turns out, are so tiny, and insignificant – husband late home to take over with the children, a frustrating hold up on a project at work – and this leaves me realising how blessed I am.
Which I suppose, after all, is the point.
2. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to follow E is for Erin‘s honest and gently thought-provoking blog. Erin is a great writer and skilled illustrator, and presents an autistic-centred view of the world, writing about parenting, politics, home schooling, creativity, and the media.
Although my own personal experience of Autism is limited, there’s something about Erin’s writing, honest, passionate and nuanced, that always leaves me feeling I’ve read something of universal importance, something about the nature of being human, and the ways in which we understand people who are different from us (or, sadly, fail to).
Her personal account of the experience of one of her illustrations going viral (and being interpreted differently to the original intent of the work) is also really interesting reading for bloggers.
3. I’ve been listening to Start Up, a podcast by Gimlet Media about the process of setting up a new, creative media company: the highs, the lows, the decision making, the arguments, the dilemmas over funding, values, and structure. This is great radio, and particularly interesting to me as I’m currently involved in establishing a new structure for a tiny, creative company, with all the joyful freedom and terror that entails: How much hierarchy do we really need? Where’s the money going to come from? What happens if we fall out with each other?
And for writers, the episode on editing is one of the most amazing live demonstrations of what the editing process entails, why it’s important, and what’s possible if you get it right. Doesn’t really matter that they’re editing a radio show on Chumbawamba (of all things) – anyone interested in story-telling would do well do give this a listen.
4. You couldn’t miss Banksy’s new artwork critiquing the treatment of refugees at the Calais camp. Banksy cleverly combines old and new media, including a QR code in the graffiti which links to a video online of French police using tear gas to intimidate refugees inside the camp, and referencing both high and low culture in his use of an image of Cosette from the musical Les Miserables, from the beloved classic novel by Victor Hugo about poverty and injustice.
If you ever needed a reminder about how lucky you are, and all the things you have to be grateful for, a few moments thinking about the plight of people stuck in the Calais jungle in the middle of winter might just be it.
5. And finally, I’ve got to talk about That Dragon, Cancer. Ryan Green is a games developer and his wife Amy Green is a writer and comedian. One of their sons, Joel, developed a rare form of cancer as a baby, and at a gruelling and desperate point in his treatment – during a night in hospital when Joel was thirsty, but couldn’t keep any liquid down, and nothing his father could do to comfort him could stop him from crying – Ryan had the unlikely idea to create a computer game about their family’s experience.
This is an extraordinary example of someone taking hold of an unfathomably painful experience and transforming it into something beautiful, creative, unexpected, and deeply moving. I never knew or imagined computer games could be like this: to see what the Greens have achieved feels like nothing less than the birth of a new creative medium, and I urge you to check out their website.
Thanks for bearing with me with through some weighty and emotional topics in this post.
If there’s anything thought-provoking or inspirational you’ve read, seen or heard this week, I’d love to hear about it.