Have you felt that the quarantine has only made you busier? This weekend, I decided to chill out and take a break.
I did some painting, some movie watching, and some reading.
I wanted this newsletter to be more off the cuff and more comforting. Hopefully, it feels like
a warm virtual hug.
Here is what’s been stewing:
“Life is a mixture of happy and sad things. Movies are so lifelike—that’s why we love them.”
“Then who needs movies? Just stay home and live life.”
“My uncle says we live three times as long since man invented movies.”
“How can that be?”
“It means movies give us twice what we get from daily life.”
—Dialogue from Edward Yang’s Yi Yi
I talk a lot about productivity, but sometimes the most productive thing you can do is take a break and watch a movie.
I’ve compiled a list for you of 27 comfort movies to check out during quarantine here:
There are a couple of older movies, some foreign language films, and movies from multiple different genres.
If you like this, maybe I’ll do a compilation of more meaningful movies to watch during the quarantine.
And if you watch one, definitely let me know what you think!
"The art of seeing has to be learned.” - Marguerite Duras, The Lover
My favorite painter is Cezanne. Artists are deeply influenced by him. Picasso famously called him, “the father of us all.”
I like him because of his obsessiveness. He would paint the same subject obsessively over and over again. Cezanne painted his dealer hundred and fifty times before finally abandoning the painting. He did this with everything. Struggling to get things right.
When I see Cezanne’s work I witness that struggle, anxiety, and incompleteness. I also witness something else. Somehow, he can look at a couple of apples on top of the table and boil it down to something essential and beautiful. He sees something deeper.
When people point out good art they usually point to faithful recreations of beautiful landscapes. I find that beautiful, but I don’t think it’s good art.
It misses something. The painters may be great recreators, but not great artists.
To me, an artist isn’t someone who can find the best landscape to paint. An artist isn’t somebody who can create work that looks photographic. An artist is somebody who can look at the same landscape as everybody else and see something deeper.
They see something that nobody else sees.
The hardest about being an artist isn’t the technical aspects of your chosen craft (although that’s hard too). The hardest part is learning how to see. To really, see.
That’s something I’m trying to work on as a writer.
As I’m confined in the same small spaces every day, I’ve been attempting to do that.
You should try it too. If you practice enough, maybe you’ll see something nobody else does.
Maybe you’ll find there’s an artist within you.
He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understand nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves, notices, sees…The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love.. Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes. - Paracelsus
I’ve been thinking a lot about giving. In these times, what does it mean to give? In the past couple of newsletters, I implored you to try to find ways to help the world.
I am learning to do the same. Partly by writing this newsletter. I hope this newsletter make you think, make you smile, or make you feel less alone.
Throughout my life, I continually have the same epiphany. I’ve been talking to help others out of compassion and empathy. But it also has a selfish component. Giving feels so good.
I wanted to share a couple of quotes from a book that I’ve been reading that talks about this.
“Love is primarily giving, not receiving…Some make a virtue out of giving in the sense of a sacrifice….For them, the norm that it is better to give than to receive means that it is better to suffer deprivation than to experience joy. For the productive character, giving has an entirely different meaning…Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of aliveness.”
“He gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness — of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him. In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the other’s sense of aliveness by enchancing his own sense of aliveness. He does not give in order to recieve; giving is in itself exquiste joy.” - Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
It might be a little woo-woo or a little abstract, but it struck a chord in me. Thought it might strike a chord in you as well.
This week give something of yourself. Whether that’s something creative, a skill, or even a conversation. Make somebody else feel alive. And when you do, feel how you are making yourself alive as well.
Hope you are doing well. I’ll write again next Sunday.
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