The New Leaf #26 - Participation trophy
Hi, and welcome to the twenty-sixth instalment of The New Leaf, an informal and infrequent email bulletin on the occasion of the brand new year 2023.
Happy New Year! I'm so stoked - the new year is the ultimate new leaf. 2022 was the year for filling the well again, after the pandemic had drained it. Now, after drinking from the firehose with so much happening this past year (I'm mixing my water metaphors, I'm aware - it's Boxing Week, I'm tired) I'm eyeing up 2023, which comes with its traditional opportunities for new direction and intent. There's a lot going on all the time everywhere in the world still, but joy has to be part of the balance too.
"Joy demands something of us. It requires us to participate. To pay attention. To find beauty in darkness. To be awe-struck in otherwise mundane moments. To celebrate what is in front of us." (Anna Brones)
I've been thinking a lot about what it means to participate in your own happiness. The past few years have been a masterclass in learning how to feel more than one thing at once, and also, how you need to actively look for the good and nurture it. And when you do that, it starts to become true that yes, you have more control than you think.
So in that spirit, here's a little thing I did. I've always loathed daylight savings time, deeply resenting it getting dark at 4pm in winter - who wants this?! It makes no sense - the science shows it has mostly negative consequences, but all attempts to push abolition through parliament have failed because we're living in a political era where we can't have nice things. (The EU actually voted to get rid of clock changes by 2021 but then the pandemic happened.) So this autumn, I decided to do it anyway: when the rest of the UK moved its clocks into meaningless darkness, my tiny patch of London did not. I kept my clocks on summer time and consequently, I've been enjoying an hour more of sunlight each day. I am stunned at how much of a difference it's made for my wellbeing.
You may have questions. No, I don't ignore the real time - I use it for scheduling because I'm not crazy. But next to the real time on my phone, I also have a second clock showing summer time. This is the one I look at as I follow my usual daily schedule, which means that when it's 4pm in the UK, it's already 5pm for me and I've had an extra hour of light. Of course, I am aware that I could have achieved this by simply doing everything an hour earlier in winter, but I've tried that, and going to bed before midnight makes me feel like a child. So instead I tricked myself with my little clock change refusal scheme - it's a little silly, but we're pretty silly creatures overall and if it works, don't knock it.
This is what I want for 2023: not just simply to have a nice time, but also to show up for the things that I want, and to do my part. I want to participate. So far I've got the light back - what a hack! Now let's see what else I can do.
I hope you're having a good and peaceful holiday season. Here's to standing tall in 2023, a year with participation trophies for all x
Some things I've been enjoying lately.
Letter of recommendation: Pick a list of films, whether it's a franchise, an actor, or some other connection ("Golden Age films where they swoon around Europe") and make it a holiday tradition. Mine's James Bond - this Boxing Day it was "The Spy Who Loved Me", and I thoroughly enjoyed Roger Moore keeping Britain's end up. (That link is an Alan Partridge bonus, IYKYK)
I've been a fan of Emma Forrest's writing since forever, and her new book Busy Being Free ("a lifelong romantic is seduced by solitude") is bloody brilliant. So smart, so thoughtful, and really funny in a way that can't really be summed up in a single quote. But if you, too, think the moon is sexy, this is for you.
Anna Jones' garden pie - a puy lentil casserole with a sweet potato topping - is my favourite thing to cook for people. Here's a link to the actual recipe (instead of adding water, add stock), or better yet, get the whole recipe book as pretty much everything in it is brilliant.
"Which digital rhythms are we actively following because they make us feel good, and which are we entrained to? Entrainment, a term that originated in biology and then spread to the social sciences, refers to the alignment of an organism’s physiology or behavior with a cycle; the most familiar example would be our circadian rhythm. ... Letting go of one overwhelming rhythm, you invite the presence of others. Perhaps more important, you remember that the arrangement is yours to make." What Social Media Does to Our Sense of Time [Jenny Odell, The New York Times]
For more article recommendations, here's my most recent Reading List.
If you want to say hi, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or I'm on Instagram at @jessicafurseth. Thank you for reading x