“Bewitched Park” – Painting by Leonid Afremov. https://afremov.com/
Welcome to ‘2017’,
I thank you for reading me and accommodating my thoughts during a very remarkable 2016. If this is your first time receiving an email from me, I thank you for subscribing to this humble service of hesitant words and queer hopes. It is a deep privilege and honour to be read, to be appreciated in letters of joyful resonance, and even to be chastised and contradicted. The universe is too relentless, too ungraspable to be reduced to steady precepts and inert principles. She strays and sways away from expected algorithms – and it is her ongoing promiscuity that ‘materializes’ the world.
In the spirit of straying and emergence, I drew up a list – an irreverent list – of resolutions that I look forward to sitting with this year. Say what you will about new year resolutions, they are abiding rituals with a lot of staying power, probably because we have a felt need for endings, for wanting to wipe the slate ‘clean’, to begin again. These ‘resolutions’ I share with you aren’t a wiping clean, but a continuation of where we left off – an acknowledgment that the ‘self’ is not the absolute, boundaried ground of all our actions (as some of our disciplines and many faiths would have us believe), but an ecosystem of manifold lives and hushed stories. So, I asked myself, “What would my resolution look like if it were in celebration of my porosity, the incomprehensible, the lost, the impossible, the preposterous?” Here is what I came up with. I encourage you to treat this as invitations, not ‘laws’ or declarations. See if they can work with you, and – more importantly – come up with your own versions:
Close your eyes during waking moments, and say a soft prayer to your blind spots. This is what you should pray: “What am I missing? What are the colours I cannot see?”
Get lost more often – generously lost – and don’t be so quick to whip out your handsets to find your way back. Walk with reverence as the unknown swirls around you and greets you in her stern but seductive manners.
Host more parties and go to as many as you can accommodate.
Listen to your children as Oracles of the Otherwise.
Take a picnic with your monsters, and give thanks to them – hugging them after the last morsel of meal is dispatched.
Don’t be so quick to dust your living space and furniture. Be more hospitable towards untidiness. The fine surface of dust and the fluffy manacled balls of grime are archives of ‘your’ restless selves, memories of your embodied entanglement with a very material world, and paeans to your limitation.
Meet a stranger and strike up a conversation – especially if that stranger doesn’t look or think like you.
Dance as often as you can, take up tai-chi or anything that breaks the monotony of your current posture.
Write love notes to cobblestones, to doorknobs, to windowpanes, to asphalt and potholes that make up your way.
Find out where shit comes from and where it goes to when it is flushed ‘away’.
Turn off the lights frequently and head outside. There’s an opera performance every night, courtesy of roving constellations of troubadour stars.
Become a ghost-hugger, instead of a ghostbuster: look for the disappeared, for the lost, and things that exist outside the frame of the comprehensible, and sit with their phantomatic presence. Linger at ‘cool’ spots, nose around in shadowy places, or stay where there are ‘old things’. Ghosts don’t like new things.
Offer to wash the feet of a stranger or a guest. Remember to wipe them dry when the ritual is complete. Offer no explanations for your irreverent actions.
Grow your food – you don’t have to move out of the city to look for enchantment.
Hold a ‘Rainbow Friday’ event, and invite your neighbourhood to gift away storied items that are meaningful to them.
Talk with your life-partner, where only stars and errant winds would dare eavesdrop on your nightly conversations of intimacy.
Stay a bit longer when hugging someone – longer than you are used to.
Let your TV’s default setting be ‘off’.
Use your hands more often. Build something, get your hands dirty, and leave the traces of your effort stuck in your nails for as long as you can gloat about it.
When people ask what you do, instead of talking about your qualifications or what you are good at, say “My best” (thanks to Raven Robinson for this one).
Take un-photogenic photographs.
Cultivate a willingness to go to the limits of your longing, even if failure is certain. On the way, you might dimly hear the faint whispers of home.
Don’t pray for happiness alone. Welcome sadness, grief and terror. Let them happen to you and come in their waves. Offer them the same kindness you would offer good news.
Talk with a cow. Or make plans to visit a spider in her busy spinning.
Insist on believing in magic. Magic is the dissolution of distance, the curious spontaneity of things in their ongoing iterativity.
[What do you think? Add more in the comments below and join this circle of trickster resolutions!]