#2: Welcome to my status pivot
Plus abundance economies, accountability in design and semiaquatic rodent romance
Is this newsletter a status pivot?
Status pivoting is the phenomenon where people feel their status threatened in one domain (e.g. money/ career) and so pivot to alternative domains where they can feel accomplished (e.g. “physical fitness… social and family life, values and spiritual life, and collectable experiences”).
Reading about status pivoting last week (in Ian Leslie’s newsletter The Ruffian) gave me a name for one of the hardest things about becoming chronically ill: a (perceived) loss of status and the lack of available pivots. In my professional and social circles, there are lots of ways to feel high-status. A senior role in a big-name organisation, founding a business, creating products, communities and intriguing side hustles, writing, romantic relationships, children, athletic feats, hobbies, values, experiences.
None of the above is bad. Wanting status is not bad. Social comparison is inescapable. We all have complicated motivations, both intrinsic and extrinsic, for the things we do.
Chronically ill people think a lot about status, worth, meaning, purpose and value (read more here and here). What if you can’t do many high-status things because a virus flicked your bodily systems onto some dodgy settings six years ago and there’s no factory reset button? Which areas of your life do you spend your reduced energy budget on? What if you spent a significant proportion of your time not really doing anything, even before the pandemic? In Western cultures, where do you get status from, if you can’t work (in culturally sanctioned, high-status ways) and you can’t pivot into something else? No marathons, no weekend DIY projects, no kooky side hustles.
I’ve been thinking about where I’ve pivoted in order to feel status and a sense of worth. Growing, deepening and maintaining social connection and community. Getting better at freelancing. Keeping my houseplants alive (just). Personal growth. And, lately, writing.
An interview with the incredible design anthropologist Dr Dori Tunstall on decolonisation, respect and relationality in design: “I argue for operating at the level of community because that’s the level of accountability”. I love the examples of how her students are negotiating these relationships. Can those of us who are consultant designers create true accountability with the communities we work with when we’re paid by the institutions that hold power?
Happy Valentine’s Day to this pair of rewilded beavers only. “Having left her cage, she swam around the pond for several minutes, before the male emerged from his lodge. They swam together before having a little ‘getting to know you tussle’ in the water.” This isn’t a euphemism, they did actually have a fight. Such is semiaquatic rodent romance
An interview with Casper ter Kuile in Anne Helen Peterson’s great newsletter Culture Study about “the way in which spirituality and ritual has been “unbundled” from a larger religious experience or community — and what’s lost and gained in the process”. ter Kuile’s book The Power of Ritual is excellent, too.
The Serviceberry: An economy of abundance by botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer. “Gratitude and reciprocity are the currency of a gift economy, and they have the remarkable property of multiplying with every exchange, their energy concentrating as they pass from hand to hand, a truly renewable resource”. Wall Kimmerer is such a beautiful writer. If you like this article, try Braiding Sweetgrass, one of my favourite non-fiction reads of the past few years
Start with Who by Michel Bachmann. “The Why is a good story. The Who is the lived experience.” Or, why you should be focusing on values over purpose when starting up products and communities. I like the checklist for moving from who, to why, to how to what.
More from Home Cookery Year: Goan chicken, squash caponata, fritters (carrot, goats cheese, ginger, coriander, spring onion — I added green chillies for heat)
A chaotic veggie stir-fry x pad thai of my own invention
Too-fatigued-to-cook assemblages: celery sticks dunked straight in the almond butter jar, crackers spread thickly with butter and topped with a dollop of hot sauce, a lot of hot chocolate
It’s Pancake Day next week (the superior mid-February event IMO). I’m going all out because 2021. Savoury: garlicky, buttery mushrooms with crispy fried sage and a fried egg. Sweet: caramelised blood oranges with Oatly cream and grated dark chocolate.