This week, diligence.
A new week, reader. Hello again.
If we are to do our best work in the face of uncertainty, perhaps we must first hone our inner virtues as guidance. So in these notes I reflect on various themes. This week, diligence.
At a young point in my life: "Rules are meant to be broken. They often make the final work worse."
Later, older: "When (only when!) you know what a rule is for, you can break it properly. Use the rules that make the work better."
Diligence is sort of about following rules. Today, I've found that the most powerful use of a rule isn't about getting the work done or doing it better. Instead, diligence is a way to tell the people who receive the work that you respect them. Diligence is sort of about following rules, but really it is a tool for connection. The below in reflection on how I got there.
Designer Craig Mod, in a short and poignant love story that happens to start with the design of a book: "[Even] cheap paper with a beautifully set textblock hanging just so on the page makes those in the know, smile (and those who don’t, feel welcome). It says: We may not have had the money to print on better paper, but man, we give a shit. Giving a shit does not require capital, simply attention and humility and diligence."
Perhaps respect is a thing that can be expressed only in details. 99 Percent Invisible is a show about details, the ones you never see. Producer Roman Mars notes that the world's great architects almost inevitably find themselves making chairs. Producer Avery Trufelman: "Chairs are teeny tiny buildings for just one person." Almost as if we're compelled to bond deeply with a single other, to validate our need to know that they too experience the world, so our best work is decidedly diligent: "in only this way can I tell you that I really, truly care."
Indeed, diligence is 99% invisible. The people behind Path once took the time to make the diligence behind their connection-building product a bit more visible; here, an old About page that used to have a list of rules for connection.
I join those above in asserting that chairs and books may indeed seem trivial outlets for precious time and attention, but truly they are vehicles for connection. Perhaps scarves too. I've dedicated the Farrell scarf to the virtue of diligence. More scarves and virtues at alwayscomposure.com.