This & That: Rethinking "Me Time"
In today’s edition of the newsletter I have some more thoughts on creativity (it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately), a deathly book list, and, as always, some great links to peruse. Let’s get right to it.
Something I’m Thinking About: Creativity as a Form of Escapism
Over the weekend I started reading Quincy Jones’ 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity, which is a short self-help book of lessons gleaned from his eight legendary decades playing and producing music.
Early in the book, Jones talks about how his love for music started as escapism. His upbringing was traumatic, to say the least, and music provided a distraction as well as an outlet for all that youthful, latent energy.
Creativity as a form of escapism. A light bulb clicked on for me.
Though it’s not an exact correlation, it led me to think about the idea of me time. In our screen-filled modern era, me time — which is a version of escapism — has come to mean consumption. We scroll social media, we binge something on Netflix, we grab a novel . . . as a way to just get the heck out of real life for a bit.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. Books and stories are my re-energizer and my go-to escapist activity.
But what if the best way to escape for a few moments each day is actually to lean into our creative side? To challenge ourselves, but in a different form than our workaday routine?
Using any kind of screen as a means of escape rarely feels good. We know this; we can feel it. Yes, it provides a break, but it doesn’t actually fill us back up to take on the world’s tasks, difficulties, and opportunities.
I’m curious what a new definition of me time would look like for myself and for my generation on a broader level. What if I took up my (electronic) pen or took a seat on the piano bench when I felt drained or annoyed? If it worked for Quincy, it sure can’t hurt for me.
“Creativity is one of the most beautiful gifts we possess. If utilized properly, not only does it serve as an outlet, but it also holds the power to transform heartache into something beyond a singular sentiment.”
The Mini List: The Specter of Death
In addition to 12 Notes, I also recently picked up a memoir written by a young mortician. Part of what she tries to do is dispel our society’s “death denial culture.” So, naturally, I got to thinking about other books I’ve read along those same lines. Here are a few that stand out (two of which are among my all-time favorite books):
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens — Though the story becomes lighthearted in modern adaptations, it’s actually a very adult tale about mortality and regret. I re-read it more years than not.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin — How would you live if you knew the date of your death? That’s the premise Benjamin works from in this inventive and thought-provoking novel.
🧱 If you aren’t familiar with author Anne Perry’s backstory, read her recent obituary. It’s a wild ride. The brick emoji will make sense when you read the link.
🗒️ After playing with Substack’s new Notes feature for a handful of days, I was starting to feel the same Pavlovian pull towards it that I use to feel from Twitter. I appreciated this Substacker’s resistance towards it, and I haven’t really touched Notes in the last week. “What is most sacred is not to be found online.”
📺 I’m probably a little late to the party here, but Apple TV’s ShrinkingShrinking is a funny, delightful, big-hearted show. Jason Segel, Jessica Williams, and Harrison Ford have a ton of chemistry.
Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.