Dear internet, I’m exhausted, you’ve worn me out and I’m running out of words to tell you how much I love you, how much I believe in you as a force for good, how much I owe you: my life.
All things considered, it remains a very, very, very joyful thing
Please, pause and stay here a while, in the moment.
You’re in your head looking through my eyes. What do you see? Can you see my smile? My mustard yellow shirt? The windswept pony tail after a bike ride through the woods?
In almost 10 months of living in the Netherlands, I had never done it and it was invigorating, liberating, and empowering. And today everything hurts good. I’m no masochist but remembering how to be a human in the world is taking some doing.
I’m never not on the verge of tears. Surprisingly, they’re all tears of joy because there is so much love around and it is way stronger than fear. So that’s what I’m focusing on now. To figure out what love is, get cancer. My stepmom did and she’s been teaching us all how to live and love since September 2018. And it occurred to me it might be helpful to write about such lovely things for a change, or rather, from now on.
I do not wish to spend the month of November sedated because I saw the future. No one deserves that. Whatever’s coming, fear won’t prevent it but better, gentler, more generous words might even though they’re not exactly what we’ve been using the internet for so far.
That’s the elephant in the room, how we went all in on sensationalism and schadenfreude for clicks and bucks and fucked up our collective mental health at the same time. Social media was never supposed to become a public health hazard anymore than the democratization of self-expression platforms afford us was and yet here we are.
Unless we focus really, really, really hard.
This election is going to be like pulling a broken tooth and it may break further, the socket may get infected, and recovery may call for antibiotics. Democracy will take a while to get back to functional and induce many more nightmares until then. The pandemic isn’t helping but we could be, our creativity could be, our digital presence could be.
Everything is too much right now so let me tell you about the gust of wind that just blew a bunch of small golden yellow leaves past my window instead. I caught it from the corner of my eye and stopped typing to savor it.
And now the whole square is wearing yellow confetti. It also smells amazing, especially when wind blows in from the coast.
The stain on my Shitstine Chapel ceiling hasn’t gotten worse, and it never rained at the exact same angle that makes water pour indoors through walls again.
Everything is too much right now so let me tell you about the big red bucket that doubled up as art on the window sill and gave this household something unusual to stare at and appreciate for a while, a helpfully designed object.
Focus. Perspective is generous with random gifts.
I have recently set myself the task of doing something new every week, partly to ship projects regularly and visibly, partly to give free rein to creativity and see how this impacts everything else. But there’s a catch: It has to be fun and therein lies the challenge. For two years, I’ve been rebuilding a life out loud in print in the most counterintuitive way and this is the next iteration.
Despite everything, it is possible to move on even now.
Whatever it takes for you to keep going, let it in.
Acceptance. Gentleness. Time. Joy. In my household, joy is a naked pistachio, a calico cat teleporting onto the balcony at random, a poem with good bones, a hug, a fresh towel… It is a very simple life built from love, including a deep, abiding and shared love of human and machine language. We are never not working because this love informs everything: It is our life.
And yet, everyone is struggling to find the words now, to find the joy. So please borrow my French dad for a couple of minutes and let him show you how it works, a process he’s never not refining. Same here, even on days when I wake up and the zeitgeist had decided to synchronize my tear ducts with my bladder.
We created an internet that looks like the inside of depression made manifest and our dealings with it are impacting our ability to process reality. If curiosity is the catalyst for possible, we urgently need to find another way.
Focus on joy, zoom in, and hold it. Once you’ve had a good look, show others and don’t let up until you’re no longer the only one seeing it.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For everything else, deets in bio.