Issue 59

Dear friends, happy new year!

I think in 2019 I am going to focus on being a sloth.

Sloths are very interesting animals. They have very little energy, move very slowly, sleep 16 hours a day, take up to a month to digest their food and defecate only once a week. In short, they do very little, but they probably live only in the moment and are pretty contented with life.

That’s how I want to live in 2019 - the sloth life! (There is even a group I found on the internet called The Sloth Club, I wanna join!)

I will still work on my goals, which continue to revolve around the two main creative areas of my life - photography and writing. I will continue to write essays here and work towards publishing something. I will work harder at becoming a better photographer. I will still do this or that fun project (like our LITO podcast). But I’m going to do everything with a relaxed heart, like a sloth… ;) (And really, goals are not so important to me at the moment!)

Direction-wise, I would like to move inwards rather than outwards. That means placing very little emphasis on achievements or on how people view me, but focusing on what’s inside instead. In other words, my mind

Meditation will be an important practice for me in 2019 as I further explore and get to know my mind. I know that as meditation helps me to see reality even more clearly - and rid myself of all the mirages and illusions of life - I will get to experience even more peace, joy and happiness.

I also will continue to simplify my life. This is a big topic for me because I really would like to own less. I am giving away my books, reducing my wardrobe drastically and trying to part with anything that doesn’t spark joy (thank you, Marie Kondo, for this brilliant concept). I hope to be a much more mindful consumer as well.

Like a sloth, I am going to have lower - or maybe even no - expectations of life. Have you ever walked into a cinema and watched a movie without having any expectations of how good it would be? Usually the movie turns out surprisingly good. It has almost very little to do with the actual quality of the movie itself, but more so with your very low expectations. I believe that one of the keys to happiness is exactly this - not expecting much out of life, you will find it far easier to be contented and happy, because anything is good enough.

By now you must realise that the big theme of my 2019 is going to be this: flow. I just want to flow with the river of life. I don’t want to try to mould life so that it looks or fits a certain way, or chase after my goals at the expense of life. I don’t want to give myself unnecessary stress about which path I should or should not take. All I want is to enjoy the scenery, no matter what path I'm on.

I simply want to flow because I have seen how destructive and painful it is to resist reality or to try so hard to change reality. Even if we succeed, resisting or changing reality comes at a cost, and a very high one at that. The truth is that we are here, living this terrible and beautiful and incomprehensible life, and there is very little we can control about it, except for our own reaction to it. 

So we can choose to swim against the current or flow with the river.

I choose to flow.


News and updates

1. We are on to episode 6 of The LITO Podcast. In this episode we talk about how to set goals... with soul. We also aim to make at least 52 more episodes in 2019. It will be an adventure! We are also on Stitcher and Spotify if you normally listen to your podcasts on these other platforms.

Some inspiring things

1. Just finished reading Sapiens. Dripping with admiration for Yuval Noah Harari. This is an insightful interview with him on The Ezra Klein Show. The part about his meditation practice is fascinating (he meditates for two hours a day and goes to a 30 to 60 day meditation retreat every year, and he has been doing this for almost two decades). 

2. Greg Girard is a wonderful photographer. I only realised recently that he's also the photographer behind City of Darkness, the famous photo project about the Kowloon Walled City.

3. Craig Mod has a new newsletter about walking.

4. The Pomodoro technique helps one do deep work.

5. Wasn't expecting this, but Netflix's Tidying up with Marie Kondo is actually entertaining AND educational. I really want to tidy the shit out of my house right now.
6. Cal Newport explains more about digital minimalism on this lovely podcast and talks about why it's good to quit social media here.

7. Currently reading: "The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation As Taught By S. N. Goenka" by William Hart and S. N. Goenka

8. Quote to think about: "We expect and ask impossible things from the world. We ask for the perfect home and job and that all the things we work hard to build and arrange run perfectly at the right time and place. Of course, that is asking for something that can never be given. We ask for profound meditation and enlightenment, right here and now. But that’s not the way this universe works. If you ask for something that the world can’t supply, you should understand that you’re asking for suffering. So whether you work or meditate, please accept that things will go wrong from time to time. your job is not to ask for things the world can’t give you. your job is to observe. your job is not to try to prod and push this world to make it just the way you would like it to be. your job is to understand, accept, and let it go. The more you fight your body, your mind, your family, and the world, the more collateral damage you’ll cause and the more pain you’ll experience." - Ajahn Brahm


I'm Rebecca Toh. I write on​

I am also a 
photographer who works around the world shooting for clients such as The New York Times, Facebook, Monocle, Conde Nast Traveler, etc (if you like my work you might even want to hire me!).
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