A working list of things 2016 has taught me [so far].
- Permission is something you have to give yourself. Why is it so normal – in this country, it seems – to be dispassionate? Only recently have I been able to articulate to myself that we just don’t all like emotion here. We don’t all like hugs. We don’t all do the steadfast hope and enthusiasm and joy and depth thing. But I’m cooler, now, with accepting that I do. Do feel deeply and at length, do love easily and in many directions, do feel deeply hurt, do hurt myself, do not forget, do want to taste everything and hold everyone close, do like to dance and cry and sometimes write about it. *kanye shrug*
- Ritual is my single most powerful defence against what I know only as diasporic angst. By ritual I mean the adoption and creation of traditions that offer life an additional layer of coherence. In meditation, or prayer, or affirmations, the saying of names, the holding of stones, in the attention to what nature and this female body seem to know so definitively without my conscious help. It isn’t fake to beckon towards meaning in areas other than those you were taught to. Probably we need to do this more, lest we forget what capitalism/white supremacy/patriarchy are so good at. Small, improvised, regular and often lonely acts of devotion and reverence have deepened my sense of peace here.
- Community is a defence against most angsts in general. If you are one of those whom I have met or have spent time with, merely talking, but not small-talking, actually working things out, then you are community. I hope that I am living true to myself and have already told you: love.
- A lack of money has often fooled me into thinking that I am not worth much. The devil is a liar. Tell him nah fam and keep it moving.
- 92% of the poetry folk I know are ‘cat people’. I ain’t mad. I’m just new here and it seems that there are a lot of you.
- Talking to myself in my head like I am a small child helps me to be kinder to myself. It’s okay, Victoria. It’s okay. Keep going. Oh, you drank that whole glass of water? Wow! Well done – isn’t that good? Wow! Amazing. You’re a great human. Really. Damn.
- I do not feel a truly deep sense of claim towards this country and I don’t necessarily feel like I ought to, beyond nature (which I feel a claim to everywhere). There are other places I’m seeking to connect with. I am also working out whether these places actually exist, in a certain sense. I have met a couple of people that give me faith that they still do.
- I still hold back what feels like most of a person I have yet to meet. The fear is a fear of rejection or unsavoury response. The sound of my own voice still feels loud. I’m learning, gradually, to speak and write anyway. We were never meant to survive.