The things we carry

The Weekly Bento // July 30, 2021

Hi friends and welcome to the Weekly Bento. My name is Yancey Strickler. In this issue:

  • Reflection: 🎒 The things we carry

  • Recommended: 🎉 Bento Park Clean-up, WEIRD People

  • Invitation: ⏱️ Weekly Bento

Reflection: 🎒 The things we carry

This week my family and I are moving. Everything we have is piling into boxes for a migration to a new home. 

Yesterday while packing, I came across an especially raggedy box in my office. It looks like this:

Looking at this broken box — the top ripped, layers of tape barely holding it together — you’d think this was something marked for the dump. And yet ironically, of all the boxes we’re moving, this might be the most important to me.

For the past two decades, this broken box is where I’ve kept my most important memories and keepsakes: press clippings, childhood journals, old love letters, a cassette album I recorded in high school.

You’d think that for something so important, I’d take the time to put it in something nicer. Instead, these things are sitting in the same box I first put them in. When a new special thing would happen, I’d open up the box and add another scrap to save. My most cherished possessions are kept in this crappy box because it was the first thing I put them in. After that first decision, I defaulted to the same solution ever since. To borrow from last week’s post, I set a personal culture that I unconsciously kept following.

I also see something even larger at work that I think is true of all of us. The same way I’ve been haphazardly keeping my most cherished mementos is similar to how we treat many memories, accomplishments, and long-standing relationships that are important to us: we take them for granted. We keep them in old containers and ideas. We leave them in the attic to collect dust while we’re focused on the next thing. In our rush to climb the next hill we forget the amazing bounty we’ve already collected.

What can we do about this?

Funnily enough, how to fix a broken box of mementos is similar to how to fix a mindset that takes too much for granted: create time to open up the box and re-examine its contents, one by one. What are the things we’ve decided to keep? What do they say about the person we were then? How do we see them as the person we are now? How do they change or reinforce the story we’ve told ourselves about who we are?

When we reprocess a past experience as the person we are today, we’re taking that memory out of the ragged box in the attic and integrating it into our lives where it can truly be a part of us and, at the very least, be given safekeeping.

Recommended 🎉 Yancey’s picks

Cleaning a park. Last week members of the Bento Society in Vancouver got together to help clean a neighborhood park. Organized by Amber Bright, the handful of us spent the afternoon getting to know each other and cleaning part of our city. Here we are:

The experience was great! It felt fulfilling to be doing something useful for the wider Now Us, and it made for easier social interactions too. Because there were always things to talk about and there wasn’t the intimidation of sitting at a table of strangers, getting to know each other was easy. Small acts of community service like this is something we’ll repeat here in Vancouver, and the Bento Society will organize in other cities in the future, too.

The WEIRDest People in the World by Joseph Heinrich. This week I finished this epic book from the world’s most renowned cultural anthropologist. The book details through incredible research the origins of a very unique type of person, which he calls WEIRD: Western, Education, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. The book traces the long evolutionary journey of this persona type back to humanity’s roots, finding many unexpected sources (this interview with the author gives you a good sense of it). If you like epic books that use evidence to make their case, you will love this.

The French Connection. This 1971 John Frankenheimer film starring Gene Hackman and Roy Schieder is my favorite movie of all time. There are so many great things about it: seeing 1970 NYC and Marseille; Gene Hackman’s everyman charisma leaping off the screen; and extremely long, white-knuckled action scenes around New York. So great.

Invitation: ⏱ The Weekly Bento

This Sunday I will once again be hosting the 15 minute Weekly Bento. If you wish to connect and talk to others after setting your intentions for the week ahead, the Bento Cafe will be open.

The Weekly Bento
Sunday, Aug 1
The event will start exactly at 12pm EST.
Doors open at 11:50am EST

RSVP for the 15-minute Weekly Bento

Peace and love my friends,