Good Things to Relax To

The world is slowing down. Can you feel it?

People aren’t answering their emails. Offices aren’t open. At the end of a crazy year – THE crazy year – we’re being asked to take a breath. I encourage you to spend some time doing NOTHING at all. But, if you must fill your time, here are some very Good Things to start with.

Thing to Listen To: Glen Hansard on Broken Record

I’ve been a big Glen Hansard fan since the movie Once won me over with simple beauty. His voice is full of pain and wisdom. Grace and guts. You’ll hear all of that – along with some incredible improvisation and a knock-down Joni Mitchel cover – in his interview for the podcast Broken Record.

The back-catalogue of Broken Record is full of shining moments, by the way. It’s full of insights on how – and why – music is made.

Thing to Watch: 10 Hours of People Touching Each Other

Remember the days when we could touch other people? Accidental brushes in a grocery aisle? Holding hands for Thanksgiving grace? Conga lines at a wedding. CONGA LINES?!

One day we’ll be past this whole viral mess, but until then, the Jimmy Kimmel show has a special gift. Their own version of a peaceful burning firelog video is a peacefull collection of people touching other people in familiar situations. For ten hours.

It’s so ridiculous, but also, so strangely lovely and hopeful. 

Catch a few minutes of the compilation here.

BONUS: If you’re looking to go the more cynical route, Edmonton’s AM/FM has created their own burning fireplace video – a 2020 Dumpster Fire.

Thing To Do: Make Some Bad Art

The only way to make something good is to make a lot of bad stuff. There’s no way around experience. There’s no shortcut. You have to kill your ego and make a bunch of junk. We all do.

This concept is perfectly distilled in a parable told by David Bayles and Ted Orland in their excellent book Art & Fear. In short, a pottery class is split in two, and each half is given one major assignment. One half the class was told to make one piece – the best possible peace they could. The second half of the class was told to make as many pieces as possible. Can you guess the ending? The quantity group made better work.

Less pressure. More practice.

Austin Kleon recently reminded me of all of this along with his usual creative wisdom over on his blog.

If there’s been something you’ve been wanting to try, but holding back because you might not be good at it – you’re probably right. At first. So get into it, and get over it.

Holidays are a great time to play.

Leave a Comment