(click on the image for more of Frank H. Jump's collaborative project, documenting vintage mural ads and more)
Good morning! This is a very sleepy morning — is going to be a very sleepy day. I’ve been awake since 4 at least, earlier, I think. My morning-self was ready to write early, I guess, but my physical-self wasn’t quite ready to pull hirself out from under the warm covers and into the chill dark until about 5.
I think music is one of the reasons for living. I don’t understand it, by which I mean I don’t understand where it comes from in people, so it’s always magic to me. I mean, I don’t think in music; it’s not a way that I express myself creatively — and I’m grateful for that not-understanding. It means I can sink into the sound with wonder, without the technical eye that sometimes arises (not often, but sometimes) when I’m reading a book I like and I want to attend to how the writer did what they did.
And curiosity, possibility: these have kept me alive, too. Listening to other people’s writing, especially at an open mic, in the workshops: experiencing how much there is to our us-ness. And the way the sky looks, at almost any moment. how a candle moves on its own inside the glass. the taste of coffee. a really good kiss (thanks for that, you). laughter. how my body feels when its moving in water. the feel a of a pen moving across the page — that’s a good thing to live for. the body’s endless possibilities. I want to say the body’s endless capacity for joy; but there’s also the endless capacity for sorrow, for loss: how very much we can hold. What other reasons to live? a dog’s head under your hand, holding eye contact with an animal or a very young child: there’s communication that happens there that we don’t have language for yet.
Maybe I’m thinking about how we decide to stay alive, how I have decided to stay alive. We can always choose not to, and we can choose to die quickly or die slow. So many many of us choose to die slow. And then there are the decisions to live: every day. Moment to moment, some days.
I’m not trying to be Pollyanna-y or Follow-Your-Bliss-y here: I’ve been kept alive (kept myself alive) by inappropriately-placed lust, by drinking (because I knew when I was drinking I could flirt with the wrong people, I could be too loud, I could be the parts of me that people don’t recognize otherwise, I could cry and cry and cry), by swimming around in depression and soaking in self-pity (and by this I don’t mean to say that depression is a chosen thing; rather, that there have been times that I decide I’m going to go with the grain of it into the hollow of my sorrow and feel around for the core and curvature of that place, instead of setting myself at an angle against depression’s pull and trying to find joy even when I’m at my saddest and most grey). Guilt has kept me alive: imagining how terribly sad my sister would be if I died, how sad my love would be. And so, I’m grateful right now for those things, too, weirdly.
The things I can choose to live for might be very small things — how good it feels to walk through the city and look at all the people and places; a cup of coffee; writing time in the morning, even though it’s not as much time as I want — those very small things are everything.
A prompt? Want to make a list of some of the reasons you have, today, for living? Making the list might be the writing exercise, or you might choose one of the items on the list and write more about that one — what is it that captivates you (or your character)? What catches you in about it?
Today, I’m grateful for every decision you’ve made toward living, even if that meant, sometimes, moving closer to death. We’re complicated in our humanness. I’m grateful for your curiosities, your joys. Thank you, too, always, for your words.