vol 4. monthly recs & rabbit holes
self-respect, living like weasels, pilgrimage, shadows
I had a lot of fun this week curating my favorite pieces of content for the Words That Matter! newsletter.
Below is a re-post of my curations which you can also find here:
Welcome to the 16th issue of Words That Matter! Each week, we invite a distinguished curator to share the articles, podcasts, and internet content that have mattered to them.
Our curator this week is Patricia Mou (@patriciamou_). Patricia is co-founder of The Commons (a “4th space” in San Francisco), a digital curator for Rabbit Holes, and writer at Wellness Wisdom. The unifying theme of her work is exploring how spaces, both digital and physical, can help us create meaning and flourish.
Patricia has curated over 2,000 pieces for Rabbit Holes (!) and what follows is a distillation of her favorites. Please enjoy these works (and words) that have mattered to Patricia.
Joan Didion explores the essence of self-respect and its influence on individual character and society. Her last sentence has stayed with me for many years: “However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.”
Paired with Statement of Teaching Philosophy (poetry). We live in a world of abstractions in our head. This essay and poem reminds me that reality is the pulsing flush of the present when all sense gates are open and our conceptual filters have retreated.
Dillard reflects on a surprising encounter with a weasel, using it to delve into themes of instinct, necessity, and the purity of living fully in the present moment. “The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. A weasel doesn't "attack" anything; a weasel lives as he's meant to, yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of single necessity.”
This essay dives into the creative process, suggesting that ideas choose minds as habitats, thriving in environments that respect and nurture them. My takeaway is that in the meandering journey of creation, what is in our control is making our minds a more fertile, lovely, and habitable place for ideas to take root.
Jim Dethmer succinctly outlines three stages of personal and spiritual development: improving the self, questioning the mind's beliefs to find freedom and peace, and discovering the non-existence of a fixed 'me', leading to a fuller experience of life's richness. This maps to my own journey of self-unfolding as well. The most important thing we can ask ourselves: Who am I? Who is asking? Who is aware of being aware?
Ken Wilbur describes the spiritual landscape in the United States as being awash with many “hot tubs of spirituality” - peak experiences, ecstatic states, gurus, and group identifications that feel like genuine progress, but are actually just “ego in drag”. In his words: "Authentic spirituality is revolutionary. It does not legitimize the world, it breaks the world; it does not console the world, it shatters it. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone.”
This framework emphasizes the importance of holistic development across self-transcendence, psychological development, and showing up in the world in service to the collective well-being.
On a family's tradition of attending the Brandeis Book Sale, which illustrates a father's deep devotion to books and their influence on the author's life and career choice as a writer. A really wholesome read and a reminder that earnest people exist in spades.
Alexander’s work is deeply influential to me in my own design practice. In this essay, he explores the profound connection between architecture and spirituality, arguing that mindful architectural practices can enhance the wholeness of the Earth and connect us deeper with ourselves.
A reflective essay by a retired Japanese architect that delves into the Japanese aesthetics of beauty, emphasizing the importance and allure of subtlety and shadow. In a world of sterile lights and mass produced objects, this comes as a welcome reprieve.
Paired with Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (film). If you don’t already know Jane Jacobs you should. Despite her lack of formal credentials, Jane significantly influenced American urban planning by challenging established theories and advocating for city diversity, neighborhood value, and mixed-use development. However, the idea I find most compelling from Jacobs is that cities are biological organisms and should be designed recursively to engender organized chaos.
Join or Die (documentary)
A documentary on America’s civic unraveling seen through the journey of social scientist Robert Putnam, whose groundbreaking "Bowling Alone" research into America's decades-long decline in community connections holds answers to our democracy's present crisis.
In the Mood for Love (film)
All of Wong Kar-wai’s films are beautiful, but this one is my favorite.
Spotlight on Patricia's Work
A community and fourth place dedicated to open-ended curiosity, play, & collective flourishing in the heart of San Francisco. If you live in San Francisco, swing by, say hi, and consider becoming a member!
Patricia is one of the most prolific and thoughtful curators on the internet. I love the questions she asks:
did this move my heart?
did this change my mind?
does this content make me a better person?
do I want to send it to close friends asap?
is it intelligently-written, heart-felt, and thoughtful?
will I refer to it over & over again later?
Thank you for being part of The Wellness Wisdom newsletter today.