i really do think that it’s really cool that people feel comfortable enough with me to write to me. i know what that takes & i feel incredibly lucky.
in addition to responding to a few letters this week, i wanted to share some people’s writing. people are saying important things in these letters, & i think there ought to be a few more people thinking about them.
thanks for writing.
“i changed myself” - r.d.
i’m glad we share an appreciation for thoughtful people. clearly you are one such person - for real - damn - i’m hustling to keep up with all your thoughts. thanks for sharing them. here are some of mine, as brought about by some of yours. i tried to not edit too much (but i did a little after the fact because neurotic), just to do some free writing.
i don’t know if any of these things are true, i just know they’re true for me.
the world & how it sucks -
i call that “truman show syndrome” - the belief that things around you are so uniquely & coincidentally terrible that the only possible explanation is that everyone around you is working together & all of the buildings are made of cardboard & everything is set up to test how much misery you can handle. but the buildings aren’t cardboard & your mom is in a truman show of her own. so make sure she knows that you’re real. idk.
yeah, i read once that we see 10,000 faces of strangers every year, so that’s a lot of potential dream characters.
i think about this kind of thing a lot— the world is enormous, & we experience tiny, tiny, fractional amounts of all there is to experience. we have no clues as to what we’re supposed to be doing…so why is it that we spend our time doing the things that we do? what if all of those people who populate our dreams are the people we’re supposed to meet? & who’s deciding / divining that?
another fun thing to think about with dreams— my brother was explaining to me the other day the idea that dreams are caused by hyper-activity of the part of our brain that interpret sensory experience. in real life, when we smell cinnamon rolls, we draw the conclusion that there must be cinnamon rolls near us. in our dreams, when we smell cinnamon rolls, we create a familiar world in which cinnamon rolls exist, like our grandmother’s kitchen or an airport cinabon. once inside the world, the dreams take on a plot of their own.
i don’t really know how much explanation this offers when it comes to interpreting dreams, but it’s fun to think about that difference as being the only line between sleeping dreams & waking reality.
i have a friend who dreams at least three times a night, & remembers them with stunning clarity. she creates entire universes in her head while she sleeps. what if she could control & choose that hyper-reaction to experience? what if she could create & live in those worlds all the time, the way she does when she sleeps? it would become her reality. idk.
understanding people -
beyond just something we’re capable of, i think it’s our responsibility as humans to try our hardest to understand other people & all of the wonderful, terrible, insane, mundane things they do. after all, they are a part of us, & we are born of the same ideas & made of the same shit.
i have a fundamental belief that everyone is almost always doing what they consider to be the good & right & true. but you’re right, that’s incredibly complicated when it comes to people who murder & rape other people, because in my head, i don’t know what would ever make that okay. but if they can make it okay in their own heads, then they must be operating under a different value system & deriving their sense of goodness from other things. what right am i given to project my morality onto them, & to what extent?
i almost always retreat to cliche: i think we should always do the most good for the most people, regardless of if those people are me or you or the murderer or the victim.
but i act in my own interest, on behalf of my own happiness, all the time. i work to make money for myself & always take what i feel like is owed to me. even if that’s not harming anyone else, it’s not doing the most good for the most people - it’s doing the most good for me. so what really pulls the needle of my moral compass? idk.
nothing gold can stay -
respect, for appreciating the depth of the reference & not just the source!
i’m with you, & this is the same struggle that they have in the book, but you’re forgetting that the night - when nothing is gold - is the necessary step between the golden dusk & the golden dawn. trying to keep things perpetually gold is a fool’s errand. we can try our hardest to stay forever golden, but from everything i’ve experienced, it usually goes like this: gold will come, gold will go, & gold will come again. idk.
stay golden, though, seriously. you can stay. i know that.
“it’s not so much pessimism as it is a scarily realistic view of how rare it is to be extraordinary at something.” - h.l.
“i am a terrible person. you are a terrible person…what makes someone a terrible human being?” - e.l.
i’m sorry you couldn’t make it out to this tour! that’s how these things go.
i’m glad for all of the friends that you’ve made, though, & that we get to be a part of that story.
i’m also stoked to hear about your school’s book! clearly they have excellent taste - your writing is wonderful. we’ll get to that in a minute.
i’m also an enormous slam poetry fan. i’ve been going to a weekly slam in la & it’s one of the best parts of my week, every week. it’s an open mic, but very well attended every week, which creates an amazing combination of experienced, talented, trained poets & people who are stepping up for the first time to share their stories. i’m not sure which i like more. the professionals are fun because my brain has to race to keep up with all of the wordplay & complicated ideas & blurred pictures of humanity that they paint. but the nervous, shivering, first-timers often burn red with the fire of genuine emotion, telling stories so hopelessly authentic that it sounds like they’re reading from a diary. because often they are. i’m not sure if you regularly attend slams, or if they even exist in many places outside of huge urban areas, but i would recommend you go. & perform.
i’ve never heard “the future,” so i’ll check it out! my favorite is anis mojgani. if you’ve never experienced him before, try “direct orders,” “for those who can still ride in airplanes,” & “shake the dust.”
thank you so much for sharing your poetry with me. you truly are a wonderful writer. inventive & interesting, your pacing is excellent, i really, really enjoyed reading all of your poems.
may neither of us ever go blind to joy again.