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What Are You Grateful For? - Issue #13

Sunletter from Ondřej Bárta
What Are You Grateful For? - Issue #13
By Ondřej Bárta • Issue #13 • View online
Every bridge you ever used to walk over a river has been built by someone else. In fact, you’re surrounded by things built by millions of nameless & faceless people.

As people, we’re far removed from a natural survival type of situation. You don’t need to go and hunt a mammoth to have something to eat. And, unless you grow your own food, the need for obtaining nourishment has been abstracted from your life. It makes life easier. Food is grown and prepared by someone else, and all of it is neatly packaged. This and many other innovations in human history unlocked our ability to seek higher pursuits. We can explore the world, create art, and learn new things.
Years ago, I had a summer job. Nothing glamorous; I was assembling and repairing chairs for schools. It was 10 hours Monday to Friday, and the pay was very lousy. I only did this briefly, and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it. Once, I almost drilled through my hand (because I was inexperienced and stupid). But this job provided me with a sense of gratitude for all the things that I used in daily life. Suddenly, a chair wasn’t just a chair. A chair was also a process for its manufacturing & its materials. It was a collective effort of many people, from gathering resources through manufacturing to delivery.
If you tend to observe the world closely, even a dull experience of assembling chairs can become a lesson in gratefulness.
Parallel to that stands the stoic teaching that’s summed up within two simple words. Amor Fati, love your fate (coined by F. Nietzsche but previously used extensively in stoic philosophy). You don’t control how or where you were born. There are many things you’re unable to change. There’s no use worrying about those things. Some stoics believed you should be able to love even those things as they make you what you are. All your past mistakes and all your future failures. They can either bog you down, or you can accept them for what they are. Learn from them, and let them make you a better person. And, maybe eventually, even love them being part of your past.
All this doesn’t mean blind acceptance, though. It’s not defeatist to say that you love your fate. It’s hopeful. You got through hard times before; you can do it again. And each time, it gets a little easier. Eventually, this hardship will just be a breeze on your skin. But you have to get through it for it to get easier. You can’t escape it.
Someone once told me that they’re happy even for all their mistakes as they’re also the reason they ended up where they did. Back then, that was an entirely fresh perspective for me. But I digress. This is better kept short and I’ve rambled for long enough.
Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday!
PS: A new interview just dropped! Actually, it’s the first interview for Career Tales. If you haven’t already, go and read it! It’s with my friend Vladimír Mokrý who’s a concept artist at Respawn Entertainment.
Vladimír Mokrý | Career Tales
PPS: This past week has been challenging. And the heatwave in Berlin isn’t helping. That makes me think that this issue probably isn’t as good as the others. But I committed to writing, so I write. Still, I hope you enjoyed reading!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Ondřej Bárta

More personal than Twitter, less personal than a fika. No awkward silence, there's always something to say.

At the intersection of technology, design, and philosophy, there's me!

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