I sent you email today; a joint email. I like a good conversation circle, as you both well know. It occurs to me: do you know each other? Probably. The town where we met each other is indeed a small one. Journeying very many miles and days since then, those moments when we met, I mean, and also, those when we connected, loosely, in the cloud, through the e-circle style I mentioned, well, those things happened, didn’t they, and here we are. I’ve been good here.
A lot of updates to share, and I’m going to look forward to it.
On the off chance you happen to get my mail (things go to filters a lot now, owing to spam bots and other ‘nefarious’ mechanisms, I thought it was funny someone put it that way… ‘nefarious’…)… So yeah.
If you get it, and if you read it in time, and if you reply, and if you see my note here, somehow, all those ‘ifs’, if they line up… then let’s do it. Start another party, in the cloud. Just us three.
I’m certain we have many, many things to discover and co-discover, from here. Check your inbox, like.
My Irish accent, um, is on these days, thanks to the writing of End of the Rainbow (Sept. 15 / Kismuth Books). Wow, long story, but yeah. West Cork, that is to say. Grand stuff, so. Mostly I just really wanna know how you’re doing but I don’t want to send more 1:N notes. Too much work, too little reward, and far less personalized. What’s the point of that? I don’t know. See you in the up, maybe, L & C?
I’ll be waiting for you, here.
PS Miss you.
The lead story here is by Quân Nguyễn. Nguyễn writes about his time abroad Denmark, at a ‘Julefrokost’ party in Aarhus.
Anyone who has struggled with life away and the uncanny unsettled feeling that comes from returning may be able to relate to his story.
It’s called ‘Unnecessary Jackets’. Cover art by DK Creative Director Dipika Kohli.
Here is a link.
S P C | Hà Nội, ‘Bittersweet’
I’m just gonna tell you what it was like. Being out here, where I am. Over… lockdown.
Being known to someone and seeing that person or set of people regularly: that’s been absent, these last four months. It’s a curious and intriguing opportunity, though. To find out things, totally solo, with no agenda, no history with anyone, and even kind of forgetting about the old histories. Which is liberating, too.
My balcony hotel room on the fifth floor was a gift, for three solid months. I am lucky. I think my favorite part was the amazing wifi. I also had a view of the sky, and some stars, on the days before rainy season got going in full swing. Part of why I left there, finally. Also, you were allowed to move around again. And so, me being me, I got in a taxi, then a bus, then another bus. [deleted]
The only things missing are the balcony, wine and the pistachios. Also my Zoom kind of broke. A bit of a story, but… I prefer it this way. [deleted] I’m happy writing. And, a lot. And zining, of course. Setting things up for 23 June and 30 June‘s issues. They’re called ‘Continuous Partial’ and ‘Start with Something Simple.’
Also, I was playing new music, while talking to old, old friends on Zoom and asking after them, also just snacking away on pistachios, because these are good. And it felt quite cozy, too, because this reminded me of a different moment, in another hemisphere, and another decade. Seattle. And with pistachios, that time, too. Also, water. I didn’t have wine, then. I was just so happy, that day. Played some of my favorite music, enjoying the simplicity of it. Knowing what feels good, and setting things up. (HT… well, you know who you are… it’s been more than a decade since we met, wow. I suppose that’s how it goes sometimes.)
It was good, then, and it is good, now.
The next things are coming up now. Wineless, pistachio-less, and balcony-less and even kind of zoomlessly… but what that does is… it…
S P A C E.
HT Guests of ‘Papers‘. Thanks for being there and sharing so, so much. I appreciate it! <3
This one is super light, and fun.
It is part of a series of new zines, coming out in June, from S P C.
This one is a chapbook, that is to say, it is Book I of a new, larger work called Finnmark. The author of Finnmark is Dipika Kohli. Finnmark (Kismuth Books / 2020) is inspired by H.C. Andersen’s children’s story The Snow Queen as well as Kohli’s personal visits to Copenhagen in 2007 and 2015, and Rovaniemi in Lapland, 2018.
It is a members-only series. It is part of a set of four. All four S P C issues in the Finnmark series will be available to two sets of people. First, members of S P C. Second, guests of our June edition of ‘Papers’.
For more information about Papers, go here. (Note: link will only be available for a limited time).
Join S P C + get this issue at this link…
Dear Seattle… Reading the news, thinking of you. With a long look from afar (very, very far). It’s been 2004… so, what’s that, 16 years?, since I started this studio in Seattle, out of an apartment in Capitol Hill on a laptop with my best friend, Akira Morita.
I decided to make you guys a mix tape. I’m not sure if the article that made me think up the idea’s worth clicking over to, but a particular paragraph was pretty much me going… “Yup…”’ Here’s the part that’s good: ‘… but Gen Xer’s — the latchkey kids of the ’80s and ’90s — are uniquely qualified for social distancing. In their youth, they spent hours alone in their rooms, watching after-school specials, doing homework, making mixtapes for their friends. To this day, they’re perfectly content holed up at home and finding ways to entertain themselves.’
For those of you who still read this blog, thanks.
I made you this mix tape, ‘Dear Seattle’…
Here it is..
A mix tape.. <3 dipika
safe hands by world health organization’s dr. tedros adhanom ghebreyesus (@DrTedros)
don’t stand so close to me (the police)
look sharp ! (roxette)
posse on broadway (sir mix-a-lot)
yoshimi battles the pink robots (flaming lips)
ghen cô vy with English subtitles (nioeh x khắc hưng x min x erik)
play with me (taylor eigsti)
sleeping in (the postal service)
staring at the sun (simple kid)
safe hands (world health organization)
There are simple things we each must do to protect ourselves from #COVID19, including 👐 washing with🧼 & 💦 or alcohol-based rub… [Note: this is a great video to show you how to do it super correctly!]
— World Health Organization Western Pacific (@WHOWPRO) March 18, 2020
don’t stand so close to me
posse on broadway
yoshimi battles the pink robots
ghen cô vy
play with me
staring at the sun**
**Erm, and about that hat… Yup. I know Shelby NC. HT RJ and AP…
Today we share ‘A Life that Isn’t Yours.’
- Contemporary ‘New Wave’ Photo Essay
- Commissioned by ‘The People Who Want to Do Stuff’, a new nonprofit organization set up by the Cambodia-based collective, Artists In Residence, at Their Houses. Cost of creating this work: $4,062
- This series was conceived and led by A. Spaice, in collaboration with Dipika Kohli, in Phnom Penh. Find further information, below
A Life That Isn’t Yours
Photo essay by A. Spaice & DK
What a critic is saying
Critic L.O.Q. writes, ‘ALTIY is a significant and highly relevant, not to mention hugely important, if I haven’t said that already, investigation into the works of art that are made today and shared digitally and largely impersonally with equally impersonal audiences, and why that’s something to really stop and think about, anyway.’ L.O.Q. will publish the full critique in an upcoming issue of This Magazine is The Awesome, and the two schoolfriends we discovered through deep internet searches for just the right face and ‘look’ for this series, whose stage names are ‘Susan’ and ‘Carly,’ will star in a forthcoming lifestyle segment of a new BBQ reality TV show, ‘Squirt.’
All photos used with permission of their creators, over at that new website that lets you do that kind of thing. Completed January 10-February 4, 2020.
About A. Spaice
A. Spaice is an artist who works in a variety of media. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, Spaice makes works that can be seen as self-portraits. Sometimes they appear idiosyncratic and quirky, at other times, they seem typical by-products of a global superabundance and marketing.
Spaice’s artworks never show the complete structure. This results in the fact that the artist can easily imagine an own interpretation without being hindered by the historical reality. By parodying mass media by exaggerating certain formal aspects inherent to our contemporary society, they try to create works in which the actual event still has to take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere, while the build-up of tension is frozen, to become the memory of an event, that may or may not ever take place. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. By examining the ambiguity and origination via retakes and variations, they try to increase the dynamic between audience and author by objectifying emotions and investigating the duality that develops through different interpretations. A. Spaice currently lives and works in Phnom Penh. —Artist Biography written by 500letters.org.
Naming, brand identity design, and showing up to make space—quality space—for the process of people who want to discover somethign new, together, is what we did for NUK Cafe. This was 2014. DK had just opened up our doors in Phnom Penh for business, and this was our first gig.
Since then, five years’ experience of living and learning here in Phnom Penh has given us a chance to flex our creative and intellectual muscles. We’ve gotten into very different kinds of projects, since moving away from typical brand identity deign. Still, I think it’s important to share the jo gurney, and how we got to where we are from where we stated. This post is part of a series of updates to our portfolio.
Discovery, networking, change, and reinvention has led us through a wide set of experiences.
Journeys that, for better or worse, taught us some important lessons. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a long story.
A new DK portfolio
Really enjoyed the NUK project.
Sharing as I go, now, since DK’s going to open again for design commissions from February 2020. That’s a lot of stuff to anticipate, for DK, but the short story is this. We’ve done things, we’ve been places. We’ve learned. We have more to do.
The work is the work, not the pretty pixels you see at the end of hte design process. If learning by doing and seeing how we get from a blank page and zero idea of what to do towards the finished things, which almost always are a 100% co-created set of designs (yes, we hand you pencils sometimes, and get to work together!), then yeah. Get in touch. This is the place to do that.
We’re really only interested in working with business owners who have 5+ years’ experience. For those interested in solopreneurship or personal branding, perhaps try our 8-week workshop, The Mirror, instead of our heavy-hitting journey of brand identity design for DK (which is also waaaayyy more expensive.) It’s not for everyone. (Still, there are 1 out of every 100 people who ‘get’ us, our approach, and see that there’s value in doing it right the first time, even if that means going through the hard question-asking series of things that we will ask of our clients. Apply to be a part of DK’s brand identity design programs from February. Apply here.)
The original post about the story of how we came to make this design for a cafe in Phnom Penh back in 2014, is below.
Phnom Penh. DK had just arrived to Cambodia.
‘Never imagined we’d stay five years:’ DK.
Emergence, innovation, change: Inventing as we go
Design. Making meaning out of vague and abstract collections of thought. Streamling and clarifying…
I still remember when we did this, for the NUK Cafe, which we named and branded back in 2014.
That was DK’s first gig in Cambodia.
Things have evolved for them quite a bit at NUK, I think they’ve moved on from our original design, but the ‘N’ is still there on the cups that DK’s Dipika Kohli drew.
Which is this:
I really like this story. Of how you start with ‘…’ and get to this design. It’s not a straight line. The creative process moves around and changes a lot, in the middle. It’s how it goes. It’s how we learn, and how we grow, too. Since DK had been doing branding work for more than a decade, it wasn’t hard. (These days we’re not doing branding work, by the way. More consulting. More experiential programs. Like these.)
Of DK’s founders hitting the road in 2013, going in search of ‘I don’t know what it even is yet’, and discovering the first team in Phnom Penh to give DK an open hand to design the way we know how to design. By asking questions. Listening. Learning. Gathering. Percolating. Generally: trusting the process. Why not? It’s worked for us for so many clients in the past.
It makes me happy.
Funny, all that drawing of the ‘N’ and exploring it led to the birth of something completely different.
Things. Turn into things. Don’t they?
“Zines run the gamut in both quality and subject matter, but they all share a common and salient thread — they speak for their time, they are unedited, they are personal, and they deal with things you would never read about in major publications, from the personal to the political and beyond.
— Sara Century, writing for The Establishment
Quoted here: https://www.lgbtculturalheritage.com/zines
Found something really cool today at the website ThirdCultureDesign.blogspot.com, by self-identified ‘Third Culture Kid,’ or TCK, Gerrit J. Hoppe. I think it was about 2011, if I’m reading and understanding correctly, which is interesting. Why is this old, underpopulated site, coming up on page one of a search about ‘cross cultural design?’ Hmmmmmm.
Oh! But this is the thing. Identity, right? Identity and culture. Between-ness. And design. And uncertainty. And knowing that you have to trust the process. And being okay with more than one answer existing at the same time, even if those answers cancel each other out. This is no-brainer stuff for people who are international… people who cross cultures all the time, and that doesn’t mean just nation-boundaries (who needs those?), but other ones. The way we grow up. What a certain word means to us. Whether or not we believe that orange and chocolate are a classic combination or not and if we don’t we can argue about it for hours and hours if we are the type to do that, TCK-type types, I mean.
That’s a side thing.
An inside joke, thing.
Hrm. Should I be writing inside jokes into serious blog posts about culture, identity, politics, resp0nsibility, ethics, and design?
[Long story deleted]
Focus, focus, focus
I am writing, again, behind the scenes. In protected-page posts. About design. Culture. The open road, uncertainty, trusting the process. And much, much more. It is a journey of change and discovery, it is an important time of learning and reflection. Especially given all that is developing and unfolding in a world that doesn’t know how to cross cultures intelligently.
I think some are uniquely positioned to write, share and publish about the how of this. About noticing. About listening. About engaging. And I want to find those people. And interview them. And write more, and make a podcast, “S” is for Sincerity, is the working title. I really need to do this work but I don’t know how this is going to actually happen, given that it takes hours and hours of time, and like the article I was talking about (link, coming up) before going into this long-winded side story says, you have to immerse to get into a space, place, and moment to really say something worthwhile. Am I there, yet, by now, to be the interviewer? I don’t know. I want to try to keep learning, but it’s also important to hit ‘go’ sometimes, before we’re even ready, because, you know, Greenland is melting.
What design can learn from crossing cultures
Quoted therein…“The term cross-cultural design has become popular lately. Nobody designs in a vacuum, and we rarely design for people in the same life situation as ours. These days, it’s almost effortless to talk to and work with people all over the world. This is a fantastic development, and I think it’s really helped broaden people’s horizons. As a designer, though, it means we now have an extra set of responsibilities. The term “cross-cultural” implies that designers remain in their home culture and survey others from afar, designing from a distance. This isn’t enough.
I think it’s important to engage in intercultural design instead, in terms of how we think about problems and then act upon them. “Intercultural” implies more immersion and personal engagement.” —Smitha Prasadh
As Prasadh hints, the key element to intercultural design is immersion, but as immersion into a new culture takes up large quantities of time, it has been nearly impossible to accomplish in the past…. Read the full piece here.
LOOKING BACK, it must have been at the conversation salon ‘The State of Publishing’ that I got the first inkling of what the thing is that today I call S P A C E. In which new and different others gather for a unique, once-off, real-life moment for remarkable connexion.
This is me, at that event:
SO MUCH happened there. So many old ties, crisscrossing with new ones. There had been a decade interval since the time I was in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC, for those who are not familiar). I had been there for university and my first jobs, including freelance work in photography and illustration, back in the 90s. So I of course had to invite some of the editors I knew from those days, including the people behind what was then the cool creative nonfiction-style not-a-magazine, and not-a-newspaper that was called the Urban Hiker. UH had run my first-ever first-person story, ‘Midmorning Lakeshimmer,’ which had been about sitting lakeside in Udaipur, Rajasthan, enjoying, guess what, a conversation. With a fellow passerby. The content of that conversation, and the publication in which it ran, set in motion, I think, to me, the notion that we can tell our first-person true stories, in the ways we like, if we just make a space to publish them. It was with great admiration that I continued to follow UH, until I read somewhere from the other side of the country, or perhaps when I was abroad in Ireland, prior to that, that it folded. Well, then. But the spirit of writing, conversing, connecting, and sharing: that was glittery. And that’s what I think I am carrying forward, here, in my own way, with the zines and salons in S P A C E programmes near, far, and online.
More to say about these ideas, about a hat tip to the past salons and of course, to the people who came, who shared, and who, in the end, made the magic moments happen. It’s all about showing up; showing up is Art, to me, and making the space for new and different others to convene in remarkable ways is what I’m up to here, at DK. Come a long way since freelancing for the then Spectator in Raleigh, I’d say. But then again, I remember walking into that office, asking what’s up, and getting a commission, on the spot. Not bad. Same thing happened over the years, repeating, telling me and confirming for me that yes, people want to hear about others, read about places, discover through the simple act of sharing what it is to go beyond the edges, and see what gems one might discover there. Thinking about these things, considering the tracks since I was back in NC, one of my many homes.
Another pic from State of Publishing:
OF COURSE IT IS IMPERATIVE that we have a strong sense of self before we can really engage in the kind of peaceful dialogue that will help all of us quell the ills of the world, what with its many division-making tendencies. Too this or too that, you’re relegated to too ‘out.’ You stay in the margins long enough and you discover other people are there, too. That’s how it happened, really. That’s how DK got going. We were wacky. We were curious. We were open. We were not buying into the program. We wanted new things, but didn’t know where to find them, or how they would change us, or why we felt compelled to go further into the ‘out there.’ The unknown. The not-yet-knowable. The uncertain, the different, the new. In the end, it’s because of the chance encounter with that one guest at SoP that led to the thought that it was no longer interesting for me to be in North Carolina, that I had things to do, somewhere else, wherever ‘somewhere else’ might be. I knew, after I put it down, and spent 9 hours writing a blog post that got circulated a little (and accidentally deleted when, well, it’s a long story, has to do with not making backups, something that people who aren’t as organized as they wish they could be have a tendency to fail to do), and yea, it was that time, and the people I met, and the things we said, and the books that got recommended, and the reading of those books, that led to new things.
Philosophy, I read recently, is the work to examine questions that will allow us to live more pleasurably. As I write from my very last night on the long, twelve-week stretch of being still for the ‘slow moment’ in northern Finland, I’m thinking about that. I’m thiningabout the chance encounters and the conversations and the people and what we made together. I’m curious about what will come of this, in my own thinking, and the style that will become what it will, as ar result of all the influences of being here. I remember a 17 year-old girl walking, at sunset, letting me stop and say hello, letting me say, ‘Thank you for participating in that workshop we did, the other day. It was nice to meet you.’ Letting me talk a little more about my feelings about being here, in a rural place, and sharing her own ideas, too. Then meeting her mother. Meeting a woman whose poise and patience were both of the highest level I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of leaders in my life, and I saw that she was of that kind of upper crust calibre, and I saw that she did that work of mothering with the kind of gentle hand that we need to see in leadership today, in every walk of life. Because the mothers of the world know how to be tender. How to listen, with love, how to give of our affection. We aren’t expecting anything, when we’re mothering at our best. We just do. We just be. That’s the lesson I’ve learned, too, from being here, in Finland.
To the journeys, then. The new, the near, the now, and the next.
ONE OF THE FUNNEST things about being in the middle of Finland all summer is listening to Radio Nova. I’m not kidding. I really like it. I don’t know. I think it’s because of all these 1990s songs, hit songs, stuff I haven’t heard since… well… then. I don’t listen to the radio much except when I’m in places that are otherwise rather remote or quiet or just the sound of the new language is interesting to hear. Pieced between the many announcements, often about ‘summer,’ because I am beginning to pick up a few words (‘Friday,’ ‘good,’ ‘let’s see then, maybe,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘mind peace’), there is stuff like A-Ha. I’m listening to’ Take On Me’ Great video–do you remember that? I remember that. I remember being very, very intrigued. Drawing and animation and this song. This song. I’m listening to it right now. I was going to link to the YouTube but you know what, they have these stupid ads now, and they have tracking, and it’s annoying–and—wow that’s a high note—and it’s been… really interesting to hear how people listen to songs like Roxette‘s Listen to Your Heart and Sinéad O’Connor‘s Nothing Compares 2 U. Plus that one that’s been playing all summer and is ‘oh, you don’t need to know the words, it’s like all the Finnish songs, about being sad and lonely and depressed and wanting to commit suicide…’
BLAST FROM THE PAST. Nineties music. Nice to hear it all. Zining while listening to this stuff reminds me of something else.
Mix tapes. Collaging. Curating. Sharing. Now you just queue things up on Soundcloud, in a playlist. Or?
Thinking about all that, all those things. Listening to the ‘Hot 9 at 9’ back home. One of the places that used be home, but isn’t now, I guess, would be more accurate. Talking about Home in one of our online forums. Talking about Arrivals. Talking about Slow Moments. Talking, talking, writing, writing. Listening to the radio and drinking coffee at 11:25PM and wondering where the sun went. It is the first time this summer that I’ve needed to turn on the lights.
Bicycling home last night from karaoke, too. First time I had cycled in the dark.
Next, I’m pretty sure, Radio Nova will play us some Michael Jackson. Annie are you okay…
THE LONG DAY is reminding me about old conversations, in many places, about time. Philosophical, you could say. That’s part of who DK is. It took a while to admit to it, but then, didn’t we do a TEDx talk about how there’s not that much time left? We did. Six years ago. Seems like a lifetime: I’ve been on the road for a year in Asia, then parked for four years in Cambodia, now I’m on the road again–in Scandinavia. Well, kind of on the road. Because I’ve learned that bouncing around from point to point is not as intriguing as sitting still in one spot and absorbing it more fully, I’m here for three solid months in the middle of northern Finland. Lapland is over yonder, there is talk of reindeer meat, or reindeer hitting your windshield, and how nice it is to see the sun. Lots of talk on the talk radio about summer. Festivities and the cheery feeling of it; the sun not going away, the lakes reflecting all of it, with a mesmerizing shade of light grey twinged with blue. Chillin’. I noticed it’s a quiet day, today, here. I saw some people getting their cameras out and taking pictures of the river. I saw some others getting gas and going in for a bite to eat–the hamburger place, the pizzeria, the cafe where I’ll be co-hosting a zine popup this month. Buncha stuff. There are people who come through this town because it’s a stop on the motorway from Oulu to Helsinki, a major throughline, though the road is only two lanes and looks like it’s any countryside road, to me anyway, in the smaller counties of North Carolina. One of my many homes. That’s another thing, though. That’s drift. Today, time.
Slow down to see now
SLOWING. That’s the topic, these days, here. Slowing down to sense. Slowing down to see. Slowing down to feel. Letting things catch up… feeling the ambient awarenesses that have been percolating for years, but haven’t had time to precipitate out into the here and right-in-front-of-you, because… time. ‘The way we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives,’ it has been said, and many times, and I am thinking about my friends who will say, ‘Yes, I wanted to, but I didn’t have time.’ I’m thinking of DB in Seattle, who, in his drawing class for freshman and sophomores, would make a comment about how texting and drawing nude models just isn’t a good idea, that you don’t need to multitask here, that, ‘we all have the same amount of time.’ Priorities are the thing to focus on, instead of how to make more time. How to do the right things, instead of just doing things. How to… well, wait. I’m turning into one of those productivity blogs. I don’t meant to do that. But I do agree with PT who said, ‘Relentlessly prune bullshit.’ You just have to, if if you want to move the ball further down the playing field, towards the end zones that you decide are worth pursuing. You can’t just… wait for things to happen, nor can you… wish for more time. All of these thoughts are trickling in and out of the S P A C E of spaces where I’m conversing with some of you, some new people here in Finland, too. And learning. Always, always curious. Wanting to know more. Where does the time go? What did we do with it? Is it important to plan? What are the benefits of not-planning? And: what will I do with my days, while I live? This is the question, ultimately, that the TEDx talk landed up, asking about. What will be your legacy?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was aiming to go up there and make a long philosophical statement about how people are being busied into being busy and forgetting how to slow down, notice now, and be present and aware of what it is they actually want their lives to be about. What is the story your life will spell? (DK always asked this of our clients, and then, added to it, with: How can you design for that?) Not that popular a topic. Thinking about the life you want to live and what you can do to make it happen? That’s big-picture stuff. That takes overarching grand views on things and letting some time go by so as to reflect. But who has time for that? The day to day details of getting things done are at hand. And that’s why, really, honestly, the pervasiveness of the ‘to-do’-ers and their insistence that making time is more important than making artful connexion and meaningful moments of their time is probably why I decided to come here to focus on ‘Slow Moment.’ It’s a long story. It’s going to have to be shortened, though, because ‘Slow Moment’ will be an 8-page zine. That’s later, though. Now, I’m thinking about a time I sat on a terrace and talked with someone I hadn’t seen for more than a decade, about what we did with our lives, in the interim.
‘The time,’ he said. ‘The time does not come back.’
I wonder if he remembers it as clearly as I do.
YES, IT WAS DIRECT, and sort of out of nowhere. ‘The time does not come back,’ he said. Did I detect regret? Resentment?
I remember looking out over the plates and chairs and people who were talking together in groups of two or four, drinking their wine and beers and partaking of desserts and salads, and the sun was setting, and it set, and we were still talking, and I remember this clearly, about that line, ‘The time does not come back.’ Of course, I’d wanted to say, and then add something about reversible time and physics and multiverses and some theory–but it wasn’t that kind of a party.
Time. Not reversing. But that’s why we have to notice it, right? Be here now. All that stuff. Notice it and do the things that feel good, make the work that matters–to us. It’s relative, after all. Why follow someone else’s prescription for ‘what counts’ and ‘what matters?’ A job is really you just selling your time. What is the work that matters to you? Are you doing that? What is the legacy you want to leave?
I’d wanted to ask such questions, of course. I always do. Was there something you had wanted to do with it that you didn’t? (This is mostly what I had wanted to ask, but couldn’t, of course. Acquaintanceship is different from friendship, after all.)
We parted. The year ended. The next one came. This is life. This is the cycle. This is how things go. Probably won’t ever see one another again, either. Something about feeling… a sense of distance. At not knowing why the action and initiative weren’t there. I felt he had regrets, but they weren’t faced on, not looked at, not examined, or questioned. Self-awareness of this was missing, too. There was some weird sense that there was a lacks somehow. A lack that could not be felt, or seen, until another day, and time, which, I got the feeling, would not come.
Because making the time and space to reflect isn’t for everyone. Those who do come out, I think, with a purpose to their life that goes beyond ticking boxes of filling in lines or paying bills. Those who are able to assess themselves clearly can do… living. Yes. Do living. Do it. Without trying so hard to conform to someone else’s pictures of ‘success’. Without avoiding looking in the mirror, and asking the hard questions, ‘Is this for me? Am I living the life I want? Am I being true to myself?’ So many people skip this. Well, of course. It’s hard.
But I think about these things a lot. I look for others who do, too. I count those people amongst my friendship circles. I listen for the curious, the ones who are saying, ‘There’s got to be more. Help me think about this.’
‘Did you see Waiting for Godot?’ I’ll ask them. ‘Or read the play?’
‘Beckett. Read it. Then let’s talk more.’
Philosophically, these kinds of existential queries—what is the point of it? what are we doing with our time? where is the meaning?–are the ones that we thinky-thinky types like to dwell on. (Sometimes too much. Acknowledged.)
For the writer, it’s been said that the best thing to do upon waking up is grab the pen… or at least the keyboard, and empty out all your earliest thoughts or journal away the sins of yesterday. It’s a great method for any artist that is meant to really help get into the right kind of artistic mindset for the rest of the day.
These days, first thing I’ve been reaching for is the cell phone.
I have this grand compunction to know what time it is, even though I have gone out of my way to do the kind of work that is not time sensitive. I don’t have a place to report to by a certain time, nor do I have any specific deadlines I’m trying to reach. “Knowing the time” on the clock does little to help me at all, yet I keep reaching over as soon as I’m awake. I’ve been here before… Instead of being on “world time,” the intervals of reality where events happen when they happen and people awaken and choose to move with their needs and their hearts; I find myself on “corporate time,” the time invented to create a schedule to move items by rail that would allow people 200 years ago to coordinate and make a lot of money.
We think of art in such a variety of ways that it is virtually impossible to come up with anything close to a universal definition. Case in point, I typed in “art is” in Google search and the hive mind finished my sentence with options like “essential to life,” “dead,” and “in bakery.” Then there was my personal favorite, “an explosion.” Art is… formless in a way, but at its best it is communicative, illustrative, and transformative. In being those things, it can also be subversive, disruptive, and even destructive. Art simply “is,” and yet we continually invent new reasons for it to exist. So why do we art? After all,
It’s not like it’s going to make you rich.
It’s not like it’s going to change the world.
It’s not like it’s going to make a difference.
It’s not like it’s going to make you happy.
It’s not like it’s going to make you feel better.
It’s not like it’s going to give you a reason to live.
…save for when it does, which is kind of all the time.