And welcome to edition 263—coincidentally the number in Strong’s concordance of the Bible that represents the Greek word amarantos. Amarantos means ‘unfading’ or perennial—hence the name given to amaranth, love-lies-bleeding, whose flowers do not wither, even after death. John Milton imagined the unfading weed sharing the same mycorrhizal network as the infamous paradisical tree of life:
Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In paradise, fast by the tree of life,
Began to bloom
Now, on with the show!
Yesterday, at exactly 14:27, I sent an email to Alee Denham at CyclingAbout to say thank you for his articles about bicycle aerodynamics and touring weight. The internet is ram-packed with incredible writing that helps me make thousands of daily decisions and occasionally changes the course of my life. It felt good to say thank you.
For the past three weeks, at exactly 14:27 every work day, I have been privileged to be a part of the Reach Out Party, a Zoom room of people encouraging each other to send little gifts to friends, colleagues and total strangers. Total strangers like Alee Denham.
It might not sound particularly exciting, but there is real magic in knowing that almost everyone on planet earth—from your auntie Jean to your head of state—is only an email away.
What one question would you ask your first primary school teacher?
What is the greatest piece of advice football megastar Megan Rapinoe ever heard?
What is the one book that David Attenborough would bury in a time capsule for future generations?
Thanks to email (and social media, the telephone, postal service, etc.), we can—we really can—ask burning questions of the people we most admire. They might not reply, but that’s why the Reach Out Party is based primarily around the idea of giving gifts.
Our email inboxes are frequently little more than ‘a to do list that anyone can add to’, so Molly Beck and Carly Valancy, founders of the Reach Out Party, suggest we premise our reach outs on the following question:
How can I make so-and-so’s inbox a better place?
We have the power to make each other’s inboxes healthier, happier places: let’s use that power.
Over the past three weeks, I’ve sent emails to all kinds of people. As well as thanking Alee Denham, George Monbiot, Lisa Feldman Barrett and Andy Zaltzman, I’ve also emailed and messaged friends, particularly friends I haven’t heard from in a while.
My favourite response so far was actually my first ever reach out. I emailed Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix, thanking her for the influence her book had on my career swerve towards outdoor work.
A few hours after sending the email, Florence replied—she replied!—saying that my email had made her day—had made her day!
Although most of these ‘cool reach outs’ to strangers haven’t had a reply (yet!), the past few weeks have shown me that a day with a reach out is better than a day without a reach out. It’s as simple as that.
Rather than typing words with my fingers, I made this video about my reach out experiences during week one of the Party. Enjoy!
🔗 INTERNET LINKS
Any more for any more?
RADIO COMEDY: Welcome Strangers
BIKE RIDE: Solstice Sunride
Mark your calendars for 19 June 2021. Solstice Sunride is an overnight ride from Cambridge to the eastern most point in the UK, Lowestoft. Organised by Dunx Cycles, creators of excellent bikes. 100 miles. Pubs will be open.
BOOK/PLAY: Anything by Oscar Wilde
No writing is so dense with witticisms as an Oscar Wilde play, but what surprised me is how often those knowing witticisms are taken down. For example, this famous line in The Importance of Being Earnest:
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.
The words are spoken by Algernon, the rake, and immediately pinned by sensible Jack:
Is that clever? […] I’m sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance.
Thanks for the recommendation, BG!
That’s all for this week—it’s been a busy one, thanks to the arrival of both a bicycle and a bunk bed. I also enjoyed my first two days as Head of Hype for Thighs of Steel, so stay tuned for news of epic cycling adventures that do good.
Now I’m off out to enjoy a belated Christmas…
Have a great Easter weekend!
Hello, I’m David Charles and I’m a UK-based writer and outdoor instructor. Say hello by replying to this email, or delve into 500+ other articles on davidcharles.info.
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