Intentionality Amid the Chaos: An Introduction to letter41
letter41 is a lived meditation project, aimed at uncovering a way of life that enables individuals to enrich their everyday lives through the practice of intentionality. It launches today.
The stakes always seem so high with introductions.
Perhaps because we associate them so closely with our relationships. And there, it’s often the introduction that can make or break it all. Done a certain way, an introduction can be the spark that ignites a lifelong love affair with the dark-haired girl you’ve spent an hour casting sidelong glances toward from the corner nook of a coffee shop. Done not at all, they can mean you pushing through the front door, tinged with regret.
Indeed, the height of such stakes can be paralyzing. They can feel so massive that we never risk introducing ourselves at all. We delay the task, hoping the right words will visit us or the right swagger will suddenly arise — if we only we give them the time to do so. Most times, though, such muses just don’t show.
But here’s the thing: the right conditions for an introduction don’t arise unless we undertake the risk to create them, regardless of how prepared we may feel. And chances are, the dark-haired girl will probably give you a smile, even if you botch the hackneyed Zooey Deschanel line you’ve spent the last hour concocting.
But, we digress….
Beyond musings about the nature of introduction, what we’re really here to do is risk an introduction of our own (one that does not, however, involve dark-haired girls in coffee shops. Sorry.).
We’ve spent the last couple months dreaming and scheming a little project that we’d like to introduce into the world. It, like life itself, is a work in progress. And it’s absolutely one of those things we could keep mulling over in corner nooks of coffeeshops, ad infinitum. But unless we stop thinking about it and just start doing it, we’ll forever be pushing our way through front doors, tinged with regret.
Allow us to introduce letter41.
letter41 is a lifestyle project, aimed at creating a cohesive way of being that distills, from the chaos of our Postmodern age, an intentional way of being: one, that is thoughtfully approached, elegantly appointed, and quietly spent.
Why a lifestyle project?
‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.’ — Annie Dillard
We believe that the whole of life is an act of progressive self-creation. An act in which we are continually uncovering and refining aspects of ourselves in order to inhabit the world more richly.
However, in an age made chaotic by endless distraction, infinite choice, instant gratification, and no sense of purpose beyond mere, ‘just do what makes you happy, bro,’-type mantras, we end up improvising our way through each day like actors stumbling from one scene to another. We pick up and discard scripts as we go. Or more often, we don’t use them at all.
Sure, that constant improvisation is fun. But somehow, it leaves us feeling a bit empty. We leave a version of ourselves behind as we depart each scene, beginning the next one again from zero. Consoling ourselves with thoughtless maxims like, ‘no regrets!’ we can’t help but recognize that we feel a bit sadder, but really none the wiser each time we begin a scene anew. We make no meaningful progress.
As improvisationists, we skip along life’s surface, changing from costume to costume, but never inhabit the full depth of our characters. We become collections of selves: our work selves, our social selves, our family selves, our private selves. But, never present, cohesive selves.
In this costume change carousel, we rob ourselves of the ability to experience the full depth of life’s richness.
Dismayed by the way we’ve seen our own lives cheapened by this dynamic, we’ve created letter41 as an alternative to the improvisational approach to self-creation. Through the framework of lifestyle, we aim to create a method of being that imbues each day with intentionality; resulting in a life that’s not only unified, but one that allows us to progress meaningfully within it.
‘The more things are subjected to the influence of thought, the more life’s details are ennobled, refined, and elevated.’ — Honoré de Balzac
We believe that lifestyle is thought, applied to activity. Therefore, we are committed to building a way of being that encourages thoughtfulness in all things. If we don’t take the time to know ourselves, our world, and how we can best inhabit both, we cannot hope to experience either fully. Without the dimensionality of thought, we doom ourselves to passing through life as mere shades: consuming, but never growing.
‘The Beautiful is a manifestation of secret laws of nature, which, without its presence, would never have been revealed.’ — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
We believe that Beauty is a universal human need. A clearly recognizable form of excellence, the experience of Beauty has the ability to elevate our thoughts and our actions to realms beyond those they normally inhabit. Therefore, we are committed to building a way of being that recognizes the centrality of Beauty to existence, incorporating it into the objects and activities we’re surrounded by daily. We agree with Oscar Wilde when he says that Beauty is a value ranked higher than usefulness. It allows us to recognize what is Good and True in existence.
‘All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.’ — Blaise Pascal
We believe that an individual’s way of being speaks louder than the things he says. And, we assert that modesty is a necessary precondition for our ability to appreciate the full richness of life. Amid a culture of digital self-assertion that draws us vainly outward, we seek to look thoughtfully inward. Therefore, we aim to create a way of being that quietly demonstrates, rather than loudly asserts. One undertaken for the sake of deepening the satisfaction we derive from the way of life we, ourselves, have chosen.
Onward, from the starting place.
It’s our ambition that letter41 will be a living, breathing project, which will evolve over time. Anchored in our belief that the whole of life is an act of progressive self-creation, letter41 will maintain an aspect of the unfinished. Through this project, we’ll pursue new and various ways of distilling intentionality from the chaos of the Postmodern age.
We’ll begin here with a series of dispatches that chronicle the adventures and reflections of two individuals: The Exile and The Captive, who speak to you now for the first time. Young men coming of age in a chaotic world, we’ve found ourselves defaulting to the sort of improvisational ways of being, so easy to fall into amid the chaotic incoherence of the world. That coming of age story is one we’ll share in prose.
Truly a living project, letter41 is bound up with our own struggle to overcome our positions of Exile and Captivity through intentional living.
It’s a project we’ve undertaken for the sake of ourselves. And, we hope that in undertaking it, we might enrich the lives of others.
Thinking back to introductions, the stakes involved, and dark-haired girls in coffee shops, we’re glad to introduce this project to the world. Without a tinge of regret.