Letter from Future Swells No. 61

"Chill The Fuck Out"

Yesterday our Governor Newsom, who one day will run for president, announced a three-week stay-at-home order for most of California. I learned it through a friend as I haven’t been watching the news for the past decade. What I need to know seem to magically find it’s way to my little shack through my global network as per my general assumption about most things except personal discipline. 

A friend, whom I met through my network, and serendipitously visited in Washington two decades ago when I began my worldwide living, recommended a book by his friend Clay Johnson, thinker on media consumption and author of The Information Diet. I read the book and turned off the news to experience the opposite – living in blissful ignorance of all things not critical to my own wellbeing – of what I was taught.

"I believe you travel to confirm your ideas, and whatever you can't confirm you discard as you travel. In a certain sense, you redesign yourself when you're traveling." – Ettore Sottsass

Being here or being there is the question. My travels across the world have taught me more about life than any newscaster ever will. And of course, books written by other travelers and poets of life and living in a time of distress and happiness have always been the best source of inspiration beyond my own lucid imagination. Literature is the distilled essence of all human learnings. News is, well… just the mindlessly dissected of the latest and greatest that mostly will turn into zilch when the fog has lifted.

I’ve been contemplating bringing a television into the shack as there are pre-made outlets in the walls in the living space and bedroom to hide the cords and connect to the Internet. I would only project interestingness but a friend who came over regretted her recent TV purchase and is contemplating returning the new screen which made me join forces and decide against – in reason and support.

“Cinema is always an experience in a foreign body.” – Bruno Dumont

I love films – especially “foreign” ( a very American perspective) and “International” (a very European perspective) – from the magic era of the great auteurs. I use them to travel in time and space. I recently watched a French seaside romance about love between generations – an older woman and a younger man. It was light and easy, reflecting different values than those of my own local town. It felt like traveling again.

But back to the stay-at-home order which impact, I think, will be limited to the everyday life in this little slice of heaven as long as the beaches will stay open. I recognize daily that my move from the city of angels was more luck than smarts and I’m grateful for whatever happened in the way it happened. I also sympathize deeply, as I don’t know how long I can live in the land of empathy without cracking, for anyone that feels stuck and imprisoned in space and mind.

"To create one's own world…takes courage." – Georgia O'Keeffe

Living on our own terms is also a collective effort, without people around what terms are there to be made? It’s the contract we write with the outside world to make our boundaries clear and our space held well with integrity and self-love. It’s what we ask the world to do for us as we will do for the world. The famous castaway Robinson Crusoe only survived until he met Friday and began to exchange learnings and perspectives. We need other people to thrive.

Flow in life happens where self-discipline meets surrender; it’s the subtle dance between emergence and intention, being open to whatever is unfolding and taking decisive action in its wake to make a life worth living from our individual ways of seeing. But self-discipline is a lesson hard to learn, as is surrender. Both are choices we need to intentionally make. And what an irony that is.

My rigid 2020 schedule, written and acted on in the name of self-discipline, has been challenged multiple times over the past week by different friends. I was already in the process of dismantling the container but hearing, not only once but twice and even thrice, that I need to “chill the fuck out” accelerated the process. So I blew it up, I surrendered, just like an artist who sells one of his latest paintings, knowing that what really matters will always stay within and carry on through to the next.

“There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

The workouts are down to three times a week; the Spanish have now been converted to book reading in lieu of a permanent flat screen for film nights, and the shack is filled with enough smoky and plant infused Mezcal to last a long and dark Scandinavian winter. I’m pushing myself hard in the areas of writing, photography, surfing, and wellbeing and then surrendering to the light that is peaking in through the cracks. Sometimes a friend, and sometimes just peaceful silence.

The string in a bow needs to rest for the arrow to meet its target. And so do we, both our bodies, minds, and souls, so take my advice, the advice so gently given to me and that I’d like to pass on in the same mindful spirit: Chill the fuck out! Pour yourself a virtual glass of my Michael Pollan inspired Mezcal (recipe will be shared with members), grab a book from Albert Camus, Gabriel García Márquez, or whoever, close those cracks for a few hours, and travel far far away.


FEWER BETTER THINGS:

Light Science: I’m learning more about light as I spend mornings and evenings at the beach making photos. Here is an excellent overview for anyone lightly interested.

Lime Squeeze: I had to get a citrus squeezer, the first I’ve ever owned, to celebrate the sunsets with Margaritas made with home squeezed lime. I chose the Rabbit.

Insta Leica: Insta360 has collaborated with Leica on what has become the most innovative, good-looking, and incredible functional action camera I’ve ever seen.

The Pandemic Mindset: Progress towards a vaccine is being made at the highest rate in human history. Here is what we might achieve together if we applied this mindset to every challenge humanity is now facing. When fast is better than slow.

Hey, Email: The team at Basecamp might have solved the pain with email and have ambitiously released a new for-pay inbox called Hey. I would not bet against them.


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Much love,

Per Håkansson

Encinitas, California