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SOLSTICE, MUSINGS ON “FOREVER” / June 20th 2024

 

The earliest solstice in like 100 years is today; marking a time for nourishment, harvesting what we planted in spring, collecting our bounty and turning inward. A time of assessment, of receiving.

 

I am called to wonder which parts of me need feeding and realize that I feel pretty full, which is an utterly priceless blessing. Two things I am calling in for the season of Cancer: laughter and meeting new people.

 

Also, lately, the realization that “this is forever.” When I revisit the past from the safety of my present mind, I conjure up into existence everything that was back then. I make it real again. I can savor it slowly like frozen chocolate as if I was still there, albeit not with the same innocence as before, but with the knowledge that it is precious. I think we have the power to shift our perception from “I wish I was back there” to “when I go back there in my mind, I am overcome with the presence of that past moment.”

 

We can make of time what we wish. The summer solstice can be just another day or it can be a delicious occasion to take stock and feed on what you’ve grown, your efforts rewarded. The past can be a mad dog biting at your heels, bringing only fear, or it can be a dewy meadow you take comfort in while you wait in line at the grocery store. It need not be a reminder that the best is behind you, or that you’ve lost – it can be a reminder that life brings forth many blessings, their benefits lasting, dare I say, forever.

 

This notion may sound contrived to some, but I really resonate with it. Past love lost is a promise of more love. Dude!!!!! I feel this so deeply. More importantly, playing with notions of time-bending has proven to be quite healing for me. That is the nugget of what I’m trying to get at: your past selves and your present self and your future selves are all in constant conversation. What you think now informs what you will think next and sheds new light on what you once thought.

 

I’m gonna stop here before I get too painfully metaphysical. Happy solstice!

MY MINISCULE SAND PIT IN THE SUN / June 9th 2024

 

On June 6th I got my acceptance letter to law school.

 

It’s okay that I’ve changed, and that I’ve changed my mind. I’m choosing not to play to the industry’s whims (maybe I never have). Constant production, unsustainable big tech feudalism and artist exploitation. I’m re-committing to making art for art’s sake. Maybe that is completely silly, but I’m not concerned with that.

 

Art for art’s sake. I must not forget this. It means I get to do whatever the fuck I want.

 

In the wake of burying an old version of myself (lol), I deeply know that nothing is forever. I see this now. Not even parts of one’s identity. If anything, identity is one of life’s most fleeting transpirations. It emerges from such mutable, fickle, arbitrary sources: the grown-ups that surround us and trends and overheard sentences that sound vaguely cool, and our indulgent interpretation of it all. Wildly specific time and place. The result of wars and domination and ego. Inheritance, for better or worse. How so dearly attached we are to it – justifiably so. The ways in which we assign meaning to identity is adorable and human and surely necessary to survival. Perhaps another kind of survival takes place when we detach from it too, sit underneath it. Some ocean floor, silent.

 

It is easier to talk about what is mutable in this life. Poetry can take care of the rest.

 

I feel so humbled by the experience of changing my mind. How dare I believe that I could ever know what comes next? What I am in charge of is so infinitesimally small in comparison with the rest, the chaos that shapes everything. Which is not to say that it does not matter, my miniscule sand pit in the sun, for it is, like all things, under said sun. But proportionality matters, I guess.

 

The current discomfort I’m experiencing, the “being in-between”, will keep being challenging. It might even continue once I start school. But this is a forging fire; it is transformative. This is where the good stuff happens. There will be sleepless nights and fear. And also relief, excitement, fulfillment and disappointment. Moving through it all as slowly as I can.

"PAUL'S TOMB" / June 5th 2024

There was a man on the hill

and I too, sat

open chested. He turned to me

and asked,

“have you been here before?”

 

“Not like this.”

 

It’s always beautiful the second time around

and the third

right down to the white chicken bones

the crumbs between couch cushions

where someone sticks their toes

under your thigh without asking

 

a cup in the groove of a saucer

a key in the door.

 

Welcoming in is agreeing to

wake up with new bruises

and stand by the window

till a bird gets hurt

but oh, what else.

JUST A RECTANGLE / May 11th 2024

 

Looking out my kitchen window throughout the seasons as I eat my daily meals is a slower, quieter TikTok. Just a rectangle framing something to watch.
 

I’ve been keeping myself far from TikTok for several months, and Instagram for a couple of weeks now. I tend to do this out of protectiveness when I feel more vulnerable, as I do these days. This time around, I am particularly harsh with my screen-time limitations, and it’s proving to have profound effects on me. 

 

Some thoughts:

 

  1. What is real and what is not

 

The power of something that is real is its sensoriality. As we experience the world through our senses, we can confirm that the street we walk on is real, that the sweet grape we chew on is real, that the perfume we pick out as a gift is real. When we leave our homes and go somewhere else (the park, the movie theater, the post office), that place becomes especially real as we enter it. We hear the kids laugh and we see the water fountain gushing and maybe we feel some water droplets hit our skin.

 

The things my phone shows me are not my experiences. They are not places I enter, they are not a friend’s hug, or an evening walk. They are two-dimensional approximations of what I could experience; what I could be experiencing but am not. Being stuck there for any length of time is tragic and dull.

 

  1. Keeping up with friends

 

My friends are my superpower. Connecting with them is a precious gift and all I ever want to do, really. It’s been interesting to notice, in my semi-absence from social media, how much of that connecting occurs through it. Knowing who went where, with whom. Knowing what we collectively decide to care about, talk about. Who’s accomplished a milestone, who is moving, who has picked up cycling, who’s looking for a car ride next Sunday.

 

I just don’t know what the fuck’s going on unless I intentionally reach out.

 

  1. True solitude

 

I spend a lot of time alone. More than I used to. But in order to be truly with my self, and with no one else, I can’t be inundating my brain with 15 second-clips of other people’s faces, opinions, talents. It’s much easier to make sense of life and my feelings when I’m forced to sit and listen. 

 

Ironically, I saw this reel months ago of a girl saying she “raw-dogs forming thoughts in the morning” by not checking her phone or any media before she leaves the house. I love that. 

 

Anyways. I just recalled leaving the house at 5pm one day after scrolling too much, and as I was walking around a community garden I thought “right, I can just come out here and look at stuff whenever I want.” It seems absurd that anything would ever make that statement less obvious, or anything other than self-evident, but my phone addiction clearly had.
 

Those who know me know that I won’t shut up about the effects of short-form content and the current design of social media apps on the dopamine system. I have repeatedly told my poor dinner companions that I think it’s one of the most dangerous creations of humankind. Maybe that makes me sound alarmist or uneducated, but I don’t care.

 

I also know that there is no going back. People say Biden is trying to ban TikTok, but what he’s really trying to do is change the pair of hands that pulls its strings. The Biden administration doesn’t care about the US nation’s dopamine systems, motivation and capacity for effort. It cares about what China does with American data.

 

TikTok and other models like it, i.e. literal slot machines for children, available day in day out, are here to stay.

 

Even I can attest to the value spaces like TikTok can create; spaces of great communion, imagination, inspiration and protest. It’s a place to forage for information, collect ideas, and to be entertained.

 

How can we maintain and protect spaces like these without mortgaging people’s attention spans and health?

 

I doubt our governments will ever hold big tech accountable for the havoc it has wreaked – in people’s brains and in most (if not all) creative industries. Maybe the fifth industrial revolution will be ethical afterall.


 

OBLIGATION IS FREEING / May 1st 2024

March + April included some of the most psychedelic moments of my life thus far. Moments of surrender, of shedding. Stripping back can sometimes feel like abandoning oneself, but it is only later that I realize: you can peel back all you want, the layers were never you. You are always underneath the layers, flavorless, empty.

 

The same way that I cannot outrun myself, I also cannot lag behind.

 

For the first time in years, I went to a show without being one of its performers, without an agenda. I was not there to network, or for self-advancement. I was there purely for pleasure, accompanying a friend in support of her own friend who was performing. I had no prior knowledge of his work, in fact, it didn’t even cross my mind to look it up beforehand. I was simply curious to see and hear new things, to be with my friend, to meet hers.

 

I felt so present, connected to the people I met, to the music I heard. It made me realize how embodied I’ve become: not seeking validation (which is always forgiven), not needing reassurance of my relevance. My appreciation – in the intended sense of “to appreciate”, “to take stock of” – of who/what I am, does not rely on my roles in the world. It is separate from that. These feelings of confidence, of quiet (God?), ironically come at a time when I’ve chosen to occupy quite a glorified role in my future: that of practicing law. But that is not how I perceive it, or the mental route I’ve taken to get here. I feel as though it is proportionate to my abilities, my desires.

 

I am immeasurably grateful to have the resources to pursue a career in law, and perhaps because of those very resources, feel as though it is my duty to do so.

 

I have been seeking a sense of duty, asking for it. And it appeared just in time, in the form of a letter in my mailbox, out in the cold January air.

 

Obligation is freeing.

 

In tandem to this, I have been noticing my relationship to music, its nature. I realize how I’ve instrumentalized it, forgetting the intrinsic love for it that initially made me want to pursue it as a career. Pursuing it as a career became a way of asserting my culture dominance, my physical worth. All coming from a place of lack. A wounded animal lashing out. Still, this dynamic between music and myself remains valuable in the sense that it had its reasons for existing, which I now observe as it morphs into something new.

 

In letting go of the success narrative I wove so tightly around music, I’m creating space for desire to emerge again. Or that is my hope for the future, rather. I still have a lot of tenderness around releasing music, which I am currently preparing to do. It takes an unnamable effort, an elan that completely depletes me. Knowing I’m about to do that again, for the last time in a long time, is both daunting and an absolute relief.

ON APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL / March 22nd 2024

 

Man is the dream of the dolphin. Heard that on “clear pilled” today and thought: yes.

 

I applied to law school yesterday. In my bag, present, listening. This week I also realized my spiritual experience thus far has been the selfish kind. I have an inkling that practicing law will widen the scope of my life in a humbling, important way (after the grueling studies, that is).

 

My favorite term these days is “leaning in.” Since all things and feelings and states are fleeting, it is our DUTY to lean in. I’m at a point in my short life where I can even feel exhausted from being so happy, from basking in it so wholly. Every day I find a reason to be devastated and another to feel utterly, disproportionately elated. I don’t know what any of it means.

 

There is something so poignant about now. Every second is graspable, a hold for my fingers.

ON LIFE BEING ART / March 16th 2024

After spending a weekend with an old friend in a smaller town, I come back home filled with the kind of stillness that escape can sometimes provide. My life is also this: going somewhere, going away. Afterwards, I do not "return" to my life. It is all a dear part of it.

Lately I have been charmed by the objects that furnish my day-to-day. The smallest details, the most mundane sights, jump out at me now. A forest green pack of gum next to a moss-colored plastic hairclip, an ice-blue lipbalm, all resting on a lacquered white surface that I clean weekly, with reverence.This is the type of poetry that used to escape me.

Something has been stirring within me, requiring most of my energy. If I am a planet, my tectonic plates are shifting. It feels like surrender. I defer to the forces at play, I bow deeply.

"I would rather be on the outside looking in."

I do not desire what I used to, no longer seek to dine at a table that feasts on exclusion and exploitation. Currently, making art has become justified only by its monetization, and its monetization has become increasingly dependant on digital clout, nuance-erasure, delibarate dumbing-down... and initial wealth of time and currency (followers and money alike).

I do not wish to compete. Perhaps I am simply not built for it, as much as I succeeded in convincing myself that I was. That is a mistake I am willing to admit to.

What if I decided that I have nothing to prove? What then?

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