But more than anything else, conquering your shame really does make your life feel like art. Each experience feels precious, adds up, and feels valuable emotionally, because you’re no longer trying to bend yourself into a shape that will impress or please or delight others. Instead, you get to impress and please and delight yourself, without apology, without hesitation, every day. You don’t have to become someone special. You just have be yourself: impossibly deluded, deeply uncertain, and gloriously alive.
The times are urgent; let us slow down. Slowing down is losing our way—not a human capacity or human capability. It is the invitations that are now in the world-at-large, inviting us to listen deeply, to be keen, to be fresh, to be quick with our heels, to follow the sights and sounds and smells of the world.
We're dealing with something that is, in my calculations, fundamentally incalculable. It is unframeable. It is something that calls for a shapeshift, not for a resolution or solutions, or technological or techno-bureaucratic deletions, or funding… It is an invitation to stop in our tracks and feel—like failure is the gift that we are looking for right now.
Slowing down is not a function of privilege. It's a function of intimacy with a world that is agentially alive; it's crossroads dynamic.
Softness is a feeling, a philosophy, a covenant, a process, a promise, a way of holding each other in our thoughts as we make these tools for each other. Against unfeeling logic, thoughtless utility, and stratified competition, let us cling desperately to kindness and beauty and care. Let our computers be friends with us, let us be friends with our computers, and above all, let us value softness as a mechanism of the highest value.
A friend of mine compared what has happened over recent years to a café. We enter it and search for a space in which we can sit with our friends and chat. But as time progresses, the café’s walls get smaller and smaller and the chat of others louder and louder. You begin to hear all manner of conversations that you otherwise wouldn’t care about: things which, frankly, you shouldn’t be listening to. This leads to frustration. It becomes increasingly difficult to escape the noise and re-center yourself on what actually matters to you.
Italo Calvino’s description of life as an inferno in Invisible Cities comes to mind;
The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.
“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you.... What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language."
I began to ask each time: "What's the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?" Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, "disappeared" or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.
Next time, ask: What's the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it's personal. And the world won't end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don't miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." And at last you'll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” ― Audre Lorde
the famously 'untranslatable' Portuguese word saudade: "'Saudade is the presence of an absence.' A stabbing pain in a phantom limb; a crack that opens up suddenly in the asphalt; the rivers and lakes of Mexico City; sheets after lovemaking."