I trust that October is treating you well. If it's not, I hope that changes very soon, beginning with quiet reminders of loved ones near and far, lifetime friends and recent introductions.
I often experience those moments during our family walks. We try to take one together every evening. There are many wonderful parts to a neighborhood walk: vibrant sunsets, meandering conversations, curious animals, neighbors pushing strollers and others just strolling. More than anything else, though, it is this: we are fully present in the moment.
Free from the distractions of our devices, we're left with awkward silence, followed by tales from our days, funny stories, and sometimes profound debates. They draw to a close in quiet and fading daylight. Once more, we are connected.
We all know the joy of those simple moments, ones that need the space to form and breathe. Moments that can't be captured; moments, in fact, that can only happen when we're not trying to capture them.
Last week’s dispatch asked, What was your last breathtaking, all-consuming read?
Is it sad that the last "breathtaking" book I read was in high school? (It's been 7 years since I graduated.) I'd have to say it was John Steinbeck's East of Eden. It's such a complex story that no matter how many times I read it, it always seems like a new story. Don't get me wrong, I've read plenty of books since high school. But nothing has surpassed my love for this book.
Reading Neal Stephenson's Anathem was like boarding a roller coaster without knowing where the track headed. For four solid days I could not put the book down as it created a parallel universe in my head and wrapped me deeply in a global drama of epic proportions. It was fiction at its finest, for me.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It's a love letter to/criticism of the Narnia books. It is also sort of like Harry Potter for adults... but Harry is a self-defeating, no-self-esteem super nerd who cannot see all the good things in his life. Did I mention I like not-so-happy stories?
My sister-in-law entreated me to read her all time favorite book from her childhood, Beyond The Pawpaw Trees by Palmer Brown. I'm a filmmaker and she said that this book and the sequel, The Silver Nutmeg, really need to be adapted into film. The feel of the delicate 4"x6" and barely half-inch thick hardcover book won me over with illustrations that whispered the promise of a secret world. I ended up reading both books within two evenings. The stories did indeed promise unusual worlds which have already invaded my dreams.
The cards offer a window to the past, writes Mr. Lauder in the book that accompanies the show. But even beyond that, "postcards help remind us that history is lived and experienced by individuals."
Paris and the Data Mind by Craig Mod, a thoughtful essay on living and recording our lives, culminating in a climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower:
Smiling, I looked out over a Paris glowing golden—caught in a long summer twilight—and enjoyed the day for what it was: a beautiful walk, existing only in my mind, to be forgotten, unrecorded and fleeting, just as it’s always been.
In Praise of Slowness, the book by Carl Honore, examines the very different perspective slow brings to food, parenting, work, leisure, and more. If you find yourself intrigued by what slow means beyond our community, it's worth reading. Here's how one man describes living in a slow Italian city:
"The main thing is that you do not become obsessed with time. Instead you enjoy each moment as it comes. In a slow city you have the license to relax, to think, to reflect on the big existential questions. Rather than get caught up in the storm and speed of the modern world, where all you do is get in the car, go to work, then hurry home, you take time to walk and meet people in the street. It's a little bit like living in a fairy tale."
News and such
The many pieces of the founding member mailing are slowly making their way to Austin to be assembled. The page where you can actually join is coming together as well. If you want to be one of the 100 founding members, just email be at uncommon.cc reply and we'll save you a spot.
We're also starting to break down and mock up the features for the future site, which we'll share as they coalesce. Every weekday, I wish the online part of Uncommon already existed because I want it to be part of my life. Every weekend, I wish an Uncommon t-shirt already existed so I could wear it! :) We'll keep moving forward pixel by pixel until they both come true.
What is your favorite memory of a long walk?