today is day 15 of the 30-day introspection journey i invited you to set on with me, a challenge that ends on the first day of summer. check out the original post; all 30-day challenge posts can also be found here.
i just wanted to check in, since we're halway through our journey, to let you know i'm still doing this challenge and i hope you are too. i didn't post much on this blog through the first half of the 30 days. i figured that, since i did this challenge to rest (yes, i know, ironic), resting should be my priority.
i have been staying with my parents, on the canadian east coast, since day 3 of the journey. i'm going back to my small apartment in the city tonight.
what did i do here? i spent time with my family. i took many walks. i marvelled at the stars. i wrote at the park. i went to the beach. i smelled the woods. i wrote a song. i cried a lot. i read tarot for my aunt. i took pictures. i made pretzels twice. a fox, a bear, a lynx, squirrels and birds came say hi. a lot of it was good.
anyway, here's where this 30-day introspection challenge has been taking me:
- days 3 and 4: how do i want to define stability? what stability have i learned to look for but don't truly crave or require? (answer: honestly, all the stability i need is just: committed relationships, a garden and a retirement fund.)
- day 4: i had a long reflection about how astrology could help symbolize the different flows of life within me.
- day 5: on this day i was crushed by an anvil of apathy. i worked on recognizing apathy as resistance and protection. that both extremes — apathy on one end, and frantically avoiding inactivity on the other — come from me not properly listening to myself.
- day 6: i realized that i didn't just need to mourn the battles i lost; i also had to mourn the battles i won. later, in my journal, i wrote: "i feel sort of abandoned by the life force that used to run within me. [...] that's how i feel: like a wreck, like a burden. well, that's dark. perhaps it's just easier to feel that way [...] than to actually acknowledge what is good and powerful within me. because then i don't have to try."
- day 7: i met a bear and later it came back and whispered in my ear (i'm exaggerating, but only a little). this led me to find a new understanding of my connection to the divine.
- day 8: i got thinking on dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration. i always like going back to this theory when i try to find meaning to my feelings of depression. it makes me feel hopeful to think that there may be something bigger and brighter at play.
- day 9: why am i feeling overwhelmed? (answer: guilt and shame. it's always guilt and shame.)
- days 10 and 11: a lot of going around in circles. i was reminded of a project i once loved; i had an idea on how to revive it.
- day 12: i was reminded of yet another project i'd abandoned. i'd been meaning to write a historical fiction and, shortly before this challenge, i resolved to abandon the idea because it was "wrong for me to focus on details and timelines, and why did i ever think it was a good idea?" on day 12, i remembered why i wanted to write that story in the first place. some voices we need to listen to, and some voices we need to ignore.
- day 13: hello again, guilt! long time no see (not). in my journal, i explored my guilt. i wrote: "i don't want these random skills. i want to be good and wise and benevolent." (fun late morning interlude: i sobbed about the state of critical thinking in the world. like a weirdo.) then, later in the day, i had yet another breakdown about being "a wreck" and "empty of all vivaciousness, lifeless," and how "i successfully put out every hint of a spark within me," and then i listened to dodie sing "i'm too damp for a spark" and i cried. there are days like that.
- day 14: the sea.
besides the classical playlist i made for this challenge, i spent a while listening to khai dreams. i also have a playlist made entirely of the king (conan gray) and cheap queen (king princess).
today, i'm listening to this short playlist:
sober / demi lovato
my mistake / gabrielle aplin
haunted house / florence + the machine
we come together / regina price
burned out / dodie
mostly, i think i've worked on exploring and confronting feelings of guilt and shame. i feel guilty and ashamed because i am convinced i am a frivolous screw-up, a pale copy of whom i once was, the result of a series of unwise decisions. i have unearthed this question that has been at the core of my negative self-talk for decades: how dare you?
because that's what i heard repeatedly from adults (especially teachers!!) when i was growing up: how dare you. how dare you think you can do this. how dare you ask for more. how dare you be yourself.
this may seem like a self-absorbed wound to examine and attempt to heal, but the result of years of berating via how dare you is this: i keep myself small. and no one benefits from that.
the first half of this challenge has been about where we come from, where we are. the second half will be about where we're going.
what about you? what have you been thinking, feeling? whether you've undertaken this 30-day journey with me or not, i'm sure you have things to say.
above all please take care,
in case you've missed the post i made wednesday, i started a 30-day introspection journey, and i've invited you all to join me. every day presents you with a choice of prompts: a question and a classical piece. i made a playlist and everything. today is day two. it's not too late to join!
day two is: what harmful thoughts/actions of mine have brought me here? — to the tune of prokofiev's dance of the knights from his version of romeo & juliet.
i tried to start by journalling instead of drawing a tarot card straight away. in this instance, it proved to be a terrible decision. i started spiralling about every reason i think i am an awful person who makes the worst decisions. then, i decided that not only was i a screwup, i was also much too hard on myself, which only made me a worse person.
i had to close my journal.
i took out my tarot deck. i fully expected to draw a card saying that i was being too hard on myself (like the king of wands reversed) or that i was a failure/idiot (so many options here). to my surprise, i drew the queen of cups. upright.
i resisted the temptation to just go: "whatever, i'll interpret this card as though it were reversed." there was a reason i drew this card upright, and i was determined to find it.
i think it's easy to forget where our shortcomings originated. we aren't like sleeping beauty, random gifts and curses bestowed upon us by fairies. we are a complex, but coherent whole.
yesterday, i had a therapy session during which i said: "i wonder if i'm not asking for the impossible. not from the world, but from myself. i want to keep all the things i love about myself — i want to stay creative, passionate, inspired, dramatic — but then i demand from myself stability, steadiness, temperance and consistency."
do you see what i mean? passion and stability rarely go hand in hand. i am passionate. i have whims and inspirations that consume me for hours, days, weeks. i create, and then i don't, and then i do. i am flighty and changeable. i switch gears often.
the queen of cups is always the queen of cups. she's the queen of cups when she's upright. she's the queen of cups when she's reversed. we're the same. we're ourselves when we achieve wonderful feats, and we're ourselves when we make monumental mistakes.
at the heart of the series of bad decisions that led to me burning out was doing for others. i did that because i am compassionate. compassion has caused my downfall, but it can also save me, should i learn to turn part of it inward.
i think that when it comes to whom we are, there is no good and bad. what heals can harm, and what harms can heal. we are ourselves: humans with characteristics and quirks, none of which are inherently positive or negative, all of which can be used to harm or to heal.
I’ve been working on getting to know myself better these past years, and these past months especially. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve always felt driven by a deep need to help. What do others need me to do? On a less conscious level, this translates to: what do others need me to be?
A slippery slope indeed!
To be what I thought others needed me to be, I’ve tried so hard to be more sensible, reasonable, stable, temperate, normal and easily satisfied. I’ve tried to be less dramatic, weird, sensitive, demanding, flighty and complicated. I’ve tried to ask for less – attention, opportunities, love, help, consideration, resources – and give more.
Spoiler alert: I burnt myself out. Several times.
Now I’m burnt out again. I spent all of Monday afternoon crying. At one point I was so done and exhausted that I lied down on my kitchen floor to sob. And yes, I’m a dramatic person, but sobbing curled up on my kitchen floor? That’s a low point I hadn’t reached in years.
On that jolly note, and in the spirit of getting to pay better attention to my inner voice, I am creating this 30-day challenge! Time to rest, think and listen to beautiful songs.
This challenge starts tomorrow and ends on the first day of summer (or winter, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). If you want to join me, we’ll be reflecting and introspecting through different prompts. I have a playlist of one classical piece a day, and I have a list of prompts to go with it. This is a bit of a DIY mix-and-match: whether you want to use the prompts to interpret a tarot or oracle card, to journal, to spark a poem or drawing, or whatever else, is up to you. Do what you want! Ignoring the prompt and only using the song, using the prompt and ignoring the song, using both the prompt and the song, ignoring both the prompt and the song: all options are good. The important thing is just to look inward.
The prompts are inspired by my current needs and meant to somewhat follow the phases of the Moon. I picked the songs to accompany and/or add to these prompts. They are all classical-ish. They’re among my favourites; you’ll notice I’m a big fan of Tchaikovsky, other Romantic composers, and first movements in general. I’m most definitely not sorry.
If you want to use the next 30 days to look inward, too, please tell us about your thoughts!
30-Day Introspection Challenge to Welcome Summer
Day 1: May 23
Prompt: Where am I in my life? (the calm after the storm)
Song: Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, Second Movement
Further thoughts: When Tchaikovsky wrote this Symphony, he was exceedingly depressed and recovering from a series of bad decisions: decisions that seemed good at the time and were every bit good-intentioned, but that had the major flaw of going against what he truly needed and wanted for himself (BBC). Traditionally, second movements of symphonies can be seen as “the calm after the storm.” Since this “calm after the storm” movement was actually written during the calm after a particularly destructive storm in the composer’s life, I think it’s perfect to kick off this challenge.
Day 2: May 24
Prompt: What harmful thoughts/actions of mine have brought me here?
Song: Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Dance of the Knights
Day 3: May 25
Prompt: What helpful thoughts/actions of mine have brought me here?
Song: Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, I. Prélude
Day 4: May 26
Prompt: What do I need/want to learn through this challenge?
Song: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (Pastorale), First Movement
Day 5: May 27
Prompt: What is leaving me?
Song: Schumann’s Kinderszenen, VII. Traumerei
Day 6: May 28
Prompt: What are the things I haven’t allowed myself to grieve?
Song: Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel
Further thoughts: Sometimes there are wounds we don’t allow ourselves to take the time to feel hurt by. We may feel they are too small or insignificant, or that we were lucky in our misfortune, or that we are too privileged to complain. Allowing yourself the courtesy of feeling hurt by whatever hurt you is a big step towards self-compassion.
Day 7: May 29
Prompt: How may I allow myself to grieve?
Song: Grieg’s Peer Gynt, II. The Death of Ase
Day 8: May 30
Prompt: What has May taught me?
Song: Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Pas de deux
Day 9: May 31
Prompt: What do I need to leave behind?
Song: Górecki’s Third Symphony, Second Movement
Further thoughts: On Day 5, we reflected on the things that were leaving us of their own accord, or at least, somewhat naturally. Today, we think of those things that may be more difficult to part with.
Day 10: June 1
Prompt: How may I create silence?
Song: Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 3
Further thoughts: I am using the theme of “silence” this New Moon. I still picked songs for every day of “silence,” but feel free to skip them and truly sit in silence if you think it would be beneficial and/or comfortable. This piece is, I think, a great way to ease into silence because it’s so quiet and slow.
Day 11: June 2 (New Moon)
Prompt: When there is silence, what do I hear from my mind?
Song: Dvořák’s String Quintet in E-Flat Major, III. Larghetto
Day 12: June 3 (New Moon)
Prompt: When there is silence, what do I hear from my body?
Song: Elgar’s Cello Concerto, First Movement
Further thoughts: Allegedly, this melody came to Elgar when he woke up after an operation to get his tonsils removed, something that was quite dangerous for someone his age at the time (Wikipedia). Imagine you have been anesthetized and are just awaking. Your thoughts are blank. What is your body trying to tell you?
Day 13: June 4 (New Moon)
Prompt: When there is silence, what do I hear from my heart?
Song: Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending
Day 14: June 5
Prompt: When there is silence, what do I hear from my soul? (“I believe…”)
Song: Fauré’s Pavane
Further thoughts: You may want to challenge yourself to write nonstop for a while. Every time you feel stuck, rewrite “I believe…”
Day 15: June 6
Prompt: What does my heart long to offer the world?
Song: Chopin’s Nocture No. 2 in E-Flat Major
Further thoughts: Imagine that the world needs absolutely nothing. Imagine that the world doesn’t need you. Still you feel the urge to give. Give what?
Day 16: June 7
Prompt: Why am I here? (“I am here to…” or “I am here because…”)
Song: Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Fourth Movement
Further thoughts: As for Day 14, you may want to challenge yourself to write nonstop for a while. Every time you feel stuck, rewrite “I am here to…” A possible variant, if you want to explore spirituality more than purpose, is “I am here because…”
Day 17: June 8
Prompt: What nourishes me?
Song: Holst’s Planets, Jupiter
Further thoughts: This is not about your basic needs, but rather what fills you up spiritually, emotionally and/or intellectually. Another way to see this is: “What energizes me?”
Day 18: June 9
Prompt: What am I passionate about?
Song: Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – Summer, I. Allegro non molto – Allegro
Further thoughts: Is there a lot of overlap with yesterday’s answers? Why or why not?
Day 19: June 10
Prompt: How do I feel after dancing?
Song: Grieg’s Peer Gynt, III. Anitra’s Dance
Further thoughts: This is the best dancing song in my opinion, but any other one will do. You could also replace dancing with anything you don’t usually do: run to the bus stop, skip down the street, balance on one foot while you floss, turn your head upside down for a minute, yell, “think six impossible things before breakfast,” whatever.
Day 20: June 11
Prompt: What do I actually feel grateful for?
Song: Holst’s Planets, Venus
Further thoughts: Sometimes I think I should feel grateful for some things. The problem is I don’t actually feel grateful. Today, we find those things we do feel, in our hearts, grateful for. Leave out anything you don’t feel. Don’t force yourself to feel grateful. The idea here is not to have a long list, but an honest list.
Day 21: June 12
Prompt: What feelings or states of mind do I want/need to have more of in my life?
Song: Schubert’s Fifth Symphony, First Movement
Day 22: June 13
Prompt: How may I make more space for these feelings or states of mind?
Song: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, First Movement
Day 23: June 14
Prompt: What temptations lure me away from these feelings or states of mind?
Song: Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony, First Movement
Further thoughts: From binge-watching tv series to catastrophizing to wanting to help others, anything works.
Day 24: June 15
Prompt: Why do I find these temptations difficult to resist?
Song: Liszt’s Liebestraume, No. 3 Nocturne
Further thoughts: You may want to read up on the enneagram! Reading on the few types you find yourself likely to be could provide you with ideas for answers.
Day 25: June 16 (Full Moon)
Prompt: What am I ready to reap this Full Moon?
Song: Smetana’s Má Vlast, No. 1 Vyšehrad
Day 26: June 17 (Full Moon)
Prompt: What has this 30-day challenge taught me so far?
Song: Mozart’s Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra, Second Movement
Day 27: June 18 (Full Moon)
Prompt: What have I actually harvested this Full Moon?
Song: Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, I. Pezzo in forma di Sonatina
Further thoughts: On Day 25, we contemplated what we thought we were ready to reap. What did we really reap? More? Less? Something else entirely?
Day 28: June 19
Prompt: How do I shine?
Song: Grieg’s Peer Gynt, I. Morning Mood
Day 29: June 20
Prompt: How may I shine more?
Song: Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 2
Day 30: June 21 (Summer Solstice)
Prompt: How may I make the best of this summer?
Song: Debussy’s La Mer, I. De l’aube à midi sur la mer
Further thoughts: I hope you listen to the song and feel it send you off on a wonderful adventure. Do the final chords lift you up and fill your soul like they do for me? I hope so. Even if it doesn’t, you’ve made it through. I wish you all the best.
HELLO, FOLKS, IT IS ME, AND I AM TIRED.
tired of a lot of things. such as this country. and worrying that i am void of feelings. this love list felt so daunting to me, as i felt like i hadn't had room in me to love lately... and i think that's when these lists are so important. thanks to gray and nadine who argued when i said perhaps we should skip it this month. they filled this place with love, and in reading it, i was reminded that, indeed, i have loved things too, even in my anger.
so it is my pleasure to introduce you to our may love list. i hope you also find strength in you to lay aside your anger for a moment to make room for love.
→ better oblivion community center by better oblivion community center
gray: a phoebe bridgers/conor oberst collab was not only the best thing for conor oberst’s career in the latter half of the 2010s, but also the best thing for both the part of my heart that is still 16 and angsty about everything and the part that is 22 and tired and constantly feeling weird. fave track: didn’t know what i was in for
→ city sun eater in the river of light by woods
gray: this album just feels like spring. fave track: politics of free
→ Górecki’s II. Lento e Largo - Tranquillissimo from Symphony No. 3, Op. 36. for when everything seems to harsh.
nadine: this month’s classical rec is not technically classical (it was written in 1976). it’s honestly so soft and gentle. it features a soloist, but i’d say that as far as “opera” singing goes, this is extremely approachable. the soloist sings in polish about child-parent separation during World War II.
→ I Like (the idea of) You by Tessa Violet, to pair with raging crushes, ice cream and hot wind in your hair.
nadine: honestly!!!! i have!!! so many feelings about this! Tessa Violet is brilliant (check out her previous two singles, Bad Ideas and Crush) and she did it again.
→ blood moon underworld by misogi
m: i just know this one is going to be so difficult to beat for my favorite album of the year. Misogi isn’t your average lo-fi rap/hip hop soundcloud artist. the 19 year old has built something gritty, smooth, and rich in one album, immersing the listener in a saturated spacey world. i love how diverse, yet cohesive it is- we have our emo rap songs (featuring my fave, nothing,nowhere), our beep-boop spacey instrumentals, and our heavy punk guitar filled songs. i’m in love. artful. fave track, a reverb heavy bedroom dream punk song: bleached
→ nightmare by halsey
m: because i am angry, and so is halsey.
→ i think you should leave with tim robinson
gray: super funny sketch comedy with super short episodes, so binge watching it feels less guilty.
→ “mr. ratburn and the special someone” arthur s.22 ep.01
gray: i already wrote about this on the blog but i have to include it here too. it makes me so happy!
→ angry bill nye via john oliver
m: the bill nye we all knew and loved, but make it 2019 on a literally suffering planet. it's less than a minute, which is to say, you have no excuse not to watch this one.
→ autobiography of red by anne carson
gray: this is easily the best thing i’ve ever read, and i don’t think i have read or will ever read anything quite like it again.
→ i hear the sunspot by yuki fumino
m: my first manga, and i am smitten. the i hear the sunspot series follows two boys: a deaf boy and his note taker. it's simply so well written... we subtly observe the nuances of these boys' lives, including the struggle of school/career, the struggle with self-actualization within a developing disability, a difficult home life, and emerging sexuality... i'll spoil something for you now with a question you'll ponder: are they gay? for each other? and when will we know fore sure? :)
→ pilu of the woods by mai k. nguyen
m: Oh oh oh !!! this comic is so heartfelt and so beautiful and so important ! willow loves nature for its beauty, serenity, and intricacies, so unlike her feelings and school and home. this is the story of willow learning to understand the little monsters in her- feelings, in this case, grief- and how to treat herself and others... a good, extremely pretty, kids comic for learning about emotional literacy, compassion, and self expression, for all ages.
→ smoothies with cold brew, oat milk, chocolate protein powder, and bananas
→ trader joe's organic tumeric and ginger tea
→ nadine: this month has, i think, been trying to tell me that compassion should start with the self. i tend to take it for granted that other people need my compassion more than i need my own compassion. why do i assume this? empathy is a gift, not a curse: it should help me do good rather than guilt-trip me.
→ m: how much is too much? when can i walk away from the news and relinquish my need to be an Extremely Informed Citizenship, if it makes me cry multiple times a day?
and you? what are you loving on lately? we'd love to hear you.
don't forget to consider submitting to our issue number one, or our mini issue, safe places.
remember, whether you just have a bullet point list of things that make you happy, or you've written an epic, we want to read it.
also... art! photos! doodles! show us.
we look forward to hearing from you soon. x
That feeling during the fourth movement of a symphony where the whole orchestra plays, and the sound swells and flows and finally, finally, something out there sounds exactly like how you feel inside, and everything is culminating, and you know, you just know you’re one with the Universe. That feeling. That’s why I love classical music.
How it goes through your chest and fills up your lungs and shines out of you like sunbeams.
And so much more.
I’ll address a few criticisms on classical music and why I think it’s an element of interest anyway.
First: Classical music is the kingdom of cis white men.
That’s true. I cannot argue that classical music isn’t extremely white-washed, as are pretty much all primarily Western things from that time. Although there is some debate around Beethoven’s ethnicity, the fact remains that, in most people’s minds, he lives on as a white man. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was, however, without a doubt, biracial.
That being said, I do encourage you to smash the gender binary and never assume that anyone is anything. That’s a discussion for another day, though.
When I stream classical music, I make an effort to stream from a variety of contemporary musicians. I encourage you do the same.
But yes. Absolutely. Classical music comes with a history of oppression. So do medicine, literature and sports. I think this history is important to acknowledge and change. Let’s do it together.
Second: Classical music is elitist.
I’m so sorry that you were confronted with people who made you think you were too uneducated to enjoy classical music. I’m sorry you were shushed when you clapped after the first movement of the symphony. I’m sorry your music teacher made you feel bad about yourself. Those things genuinely make me sad because you deserved better than that. No one deserves to be shushed for clapping once the orchestra stops playing. No kid deserves to feel bad at school.
As I’ve just written, classical music comes with a history of oppression. We don’t need to keep that going. We have the power to change that. I’ll try my best.
Third: Classical music is stuffy.
Not to pull a Sebastian-from-La-La-Land, but classical music has caused riots. That’s hardcore. Have you seen Amadeus (1984)? That’s hardcore. Chopin had an affair with an author who went by George Sand. That’s hardcore (though George Sand herself was so much more hardcore than Chopin). Tchaikovsky dealt with widespread and internalized homophobia for decades. That’s hardcore. Have you heard Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and imagined it being played in 1808? That’s hardcore. Vivaldi died in poverty in 1741 and “[m]any of his compositions were written for the all-female music ensemble of […] a home for abandoned children.” (Wikipedia) That’s hardcore.
Classical music is so hardcore!
Fourth: Classical music is too old to still be relevant.
Amazing new songs are being written every day. Yes. I agree. It’s important to support artists who are alive. Yes. I agree. I definitely agree.
Aside from the many, many classical musicians still alive today, I think classical music as an art form is still relevant as a creator of discussion. It’s a reason to think more, talk more, listen more, share more. It’s a reason to ask one another questions. Did you like this? Why or why not? What were you thinking about while you were listening? What did this remind you of? What do you think this piece meant when it premiered, hundreds of years ago? Do you think people hummed the main theme in the streets? Do you think strangers stopped them and said: “Oh, you heard the latest Beethoven too! Wasn’t it amazing?”
Kids learning to play classical? That’s even more important, I think. Playing music in ensembles taught me to listen. It taught me to wait. It taught me the value of hard work. It taught me tolerance. It taught me solidarity. It taught me trust. It taught me the extraordinary hugeness of what we can do when we work together. How are kids supposed to learn those lessons from playing music together when adults don’t value the type of music they play?
Finally, please forgive the hyperbolic comparison, but are mountains too old to still be relevant? Stonehenge, the Moai on Easter Island, the Sphinx of Giza – are they too old to still be relevant? Those monuments of nature and humanity are still relevant because they’re beautiful. Because they’re puzzling. Because we look at them and we’re breathless with the immensity of what we humans can achieve when we put our minds to it as a group. When someone has a wild idea and we listen instead of fearing and chastising.
I want to be one who listens.
(…) Here it is:
some days are difficult for me to live through… not necessarily because they are hard, but sometimes things are so good i don’t know how to hold it. i’ve been reading about overcoming imposter syndrome, and one night i understood some things about my view of myself:
i tend to define myself by what i do, and not who i am. when what i do changes, even only slightly, my sense of self is disturbed.
i also divide myself into selves based on context, though not in that good girl/bad girl way that people think teenagers do… mostly my access to words and self changes based on context. when these selves cross paths, i feel shame, fearing i am less authentic. funny, because the merging of my selves makes me more myself than ever. so i need to remember this: i can be both-and, and all. multi-faceted. deeper.
some days, i simply do not recognize my self.
and on these days, i need to settle into my body, into my self. to question what matters. what is beauty, in my eyes. what makes me feel. what i want to do. my intention in every situation.
sometimes this simply means i put clove and tangerine oils in my diffuser. maybe i eat outside and steep in sunlight. maybe i do a little yoga. do my skincare slowly. and sometimes it means i read nonfiction, or fiction, or poetry.
poetry always does that thing to me, whether i write it or read it. it asks me to see and feel the world, without remaining an apathetic observer. to appreciate something, even if it’s the wording of something hard to swallow.
it’s national poetry month, so i’ve added some poems that i think are worth reading or listening to. i hope you find something that brings the color back to your world, and helps you feel a little more like yourself. let us know if there’s anything we should try. we love to hear from you.
namaste, the light in my recognizes and honors the light in you,
→ still i rise, by maya angelou, performed on so you think you can dance, for survival
→ laugh with god, by madi mae parker, for becoming
→ for the dogs tho barked at me on the sidewalks in connecticut by hanif abdurraqib, for meeting yourself
→ angel of the get through, by andrea gibson, for your best friends
→ the future, by neil hilborn, for your hardest days
→ things that could happen to a girl wearing jeans, by rhiannon mcgavin, when politics gets too much
→ how to be a poet under the new regime by roberto montes, on being
→ self portrait with no flag by safia elhillo, for pledging allegiance
→ joy seekers, by levi the poet, for easter
→ Elgar’s Nimrod (Variation IX) from Enigma Variations. listen when in pain, for the reminder than in every hurt there is longing, and in every longing there is hope.
nadine: this month’s classical love is a staple. apparently, according to the song’s wikipedia, it’s played pretty much all the time (i’m exaggerating, but only a little). this enigma variation was dedicated to Elgar’s closest friend, August Jaeger; it’s the story of how Jaeger encouraged him to push through pain and keep making music. in a letter to Jaeger, Elgar wrote that each variation had been written borrowing the voice of a friend, “if they were asses enough to compose.” to me, the Nimrod variation is a reminder of what a powerful balm sincere encouragements can be. i hope it catches you at the right time.
→ Happy by Julia Michaels (released in Inner Monologue Part 1, jan. 24, 2019). listen if you feel like dancing and feeling sorry for yourself at the same time.
nadine: mmm who doesn’t like a good sad pop anthem?? this one’s been stuck in my head all month. (also worth noting that i think this song needs to be taken with a certain measure of self-deprecating humour; it’s absolutely not necessary or even useful to “kill relationships for art.”)
→ Night Falls over Kortedala by Jens Lekman
gray: a long time favorite album of mine, and my favorite Jens Lekman album. every year, for me, this album seems to usher in the beginning of spring. the dancey instrumentals and silly, lovelorn lyrics will never cease to feel brand new to me, even on the thousandth listen.
→ Mississippi by Kevin Abstract
m: the outro to the brand new ep ghettobaby, this song had me both tearing up and dancing at my desk. it’s homey and homesick at the same time.
→ Guava Island
m: i’m of the opinion that Donald Glover can do no wrong, and i am right again. this time, glover is flanked by Rhianna and Lititia Wright *heart eyes*
→ The Future is Feminist edited by Jessica Valenti
m: a brilliant intro to feminism, spanning much time and differing schools of thought. each essay is different both in subject and mood (yes, some will make you smile.) despite the hot pink and orange text (I couldn’t read the quotes in orange), i love it. i want it. this is intersectional, empowering, accepting feminism, and i feel empowered creatively and mentally.
→ “Why Do I Always Have a Crush on Someone?” by Heather Havrilesky
“The trick is not to stop wanting. The trick is to stop abandoning yourself and your life every time you want something. The trick is not to stop eating. The trick is to stop blaming yourself for your hunger.”
as a chronic crusher, this piece makes me feel validated and made me think a lot about how i exist in relation to and treat my romantic/etc desire.
→ With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
m: Acevedo’s first book, The Poet X, was incredible, and so many thought so. Her second book releases May 15, and let me tell you… it is spicy and sweet and warm and bright. Emoni is a single mama, a girl who adores cooking, and a high school senior. this life is so much pressure, but so full of love. highly recommend, not just for the story, but also for the beautiful writing.
→ Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
m: i feel like this book is a guide to life. all you need to know right now is that it’s austin kleon’s new book. perhaps i’ll give it its own blog post.
sipping + eating
→ thai coffee, strong and sweet and spicy. good for chatty dinners over stir fry noodles or productive afternoons.
→ lemonade. it’s already hitting temps of 80F here, so i might as well lean into the summer weather with a classic drink that happens to be a favorite of mine.
→ ginger matcha ice cream with dark chocolate chips. healthy for your heart.
→ nadine: how are the hindering things i do benefitting my fake self? what can i do to stop the negative cycle where my self-sabotage fuels my negative self-beliefs? procrastination, i’m looking straight at you. i will not let you make me angry.
→ nadine: i want peace of mind, but i am constantly looking for ways to make my life more intense, dramatic, exciting. in my journal, i have written: “why am i not that person now? thick fabrics, plants, light. a big garden. who is this person & what has changed within him/her to bring him/her to let go of that need for drama & intensity? why is he/she content with that life? what life is that?”
→ m: what do i feel like i’m not allowed to do, and why? what blocks are in place before my creativity, and what have i forgotten to love as the years pass by? how can i dismantle shame
→ m: do i have a routine? what is my dream routine, and how can i slowly work it into my mornings, days, and nights?
→ m: how can i create space for other people? who have i not forgiven?
→ gray: time is passing whether or not i want it to. i have spent the last several months oblivious to this, stuck in a pattern of being stuck. now it’s april and i find myself trying to figure out what i’ve even been doing. a short break post-grad turned into a time where i have been questioning all my decisions and skills that i believed i had. how do i move forward with my life now that every turn is filled to the brim with uncertainty? and who am i to complain? how do i stop focusing on the path not taken?
what about you? what’s been making you think, lately, “i’m glad i stuck around long enough to discover this?” let us know!
About a month ago, I reached a point where I thought my present circumstances were unbearable, and the only way I found to convince myself to push forward was to daydream about the summer. My ideal summer day went something like this: Wake up at dawn. Make coffee. Have coffee on my balcony with my laptop, write for a few hours, have breakfast too. I’d write for this blog, work on my fiction, write the screenplay for that musical I dream of putting up. Then, once the sun would be too hot, I’d pack lunch and bike downtown, to the library. I’d rent all kinds of books. Philosophy. Physics. Psychology. Once I’d be done, I’d bike to a park, where I’d read and have a picnic. As I’d bike back home at the end of the afternoon, I’d stop at the market to get fresh vegetables. Make something I’ve never had before for dinner. Listen to music. Journal a bit. Go to bed early.
I told my friend about my plans. She looked at me thoughtfully and asked: “Why aren’t you living that life now?”
I had reasons. I’m so busy. My balcony’s buried in snow. The sun rises after 7. Fresh vegetables are rare and expensive at this time of the year. I opened my mouth to voice them. Something stopped me. This quote, that I haven’t been able to find attribution for, popped in my mind: “There's no such thing as being too busy. If you really want something, you'll make time for it.” I could react defensively and list my reasons and play the victim. Or I could open my heart and think.
My friend continued, her voice careful: “Sometimes I think we live like we forget we’re going to die.”
Cue an Existential Crisis, complete with questioning all my life choices, booking appointments with my guidance counsellor and my psychologist, and holding back sobs as I tell my mother on a video call: “What is the rest of my life? 60 years? 50? 5? I don’t know!”
I spoke to some other friends about it. If you’re dealing with stuff, tell your friends about it! Every time I give someone a peek of what’s inside my heart and they don’t go running the other way, I feel a little less lonely. To one of my friends, I wrote:
I don’t want to kill the hunger within me, and idk, I know this all sounds melodramatically existential… I don’t want to live on autopilot. I think living intentionally, mindfully and purposefully all go hand in hand. And the joy that comes from enjoying the small things comes from the same place that the pain of existential questioning comes from: an understanding that life is beautiful, fragile and so so precious.
I’m happy. I derive inordinate amounts of joy from the smallest things. A chord. A patch of blue sky. How broken ice looks. How Freddie Mercury is scatting in Under Pressure and it works. My mother’s gif game. A discussion with a friend. My high-waisted paisley palazzos. Cooking my oats in vanilla oat milk and stirring in almond butter, frozen berries and sunflower and pumpkin seeds (the luxury!!!). The way Julie Andrews sings “when you wake up, wake up!” with all the might in the world. My sister’s reaction when I told her what I said at the student assembly. The house brand ancient grains bread. So many things bring me so much joy, and when I realize that for several years I was seeing life as biding my time, as eating pistachios (you break your teeth trying to open them and they don’t even taste that good), I think I must be the luckiest person alive.
But I can be happy with the small scale and unhappy with the big scale. They’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, like I told my friend, I think they come from the same place. I’m deeply unhappy about the suffering in the world. I’m deeply unhappy about the state of our planet. I’m deeply unhappy about violence and oppression.
I’m also not sure that my life isn’t heading towards a devastating midlife crisis in 15 years.
In one of my university classes, several years ago, we were learning about midlife crises and one of the students – an older one – asked the lecturer: “Is it possible to avoid having a midlife crisis by being reflective and introspective throughout your life?”
I think the idea is interesting. However, I’m sure that whatever I do, I’ll have a midlife crisis. I mean, look at me. I’m a walking-talking existential crisis. I just don’t want my midlife crisis to destroy my life. My quarter-life crisis destroyed my life. Once is enough. Our time here is finite (that we know of for sure). I don’t know how much I have left and I want to make the most of it.
Change is coming.
When is it not?
Next time, I’ll write about classical music, just like I promised in the collective march love list.
Until then, I hope you get the time to ask yourself questions. About anything.
Gray recently posted some of their thoughts around being nonbinary, transitioning and coming out. To be honest, I loved that post so much that I immediately messaged them to let them know, which is something I tend to have difficulty stopping myself from doing.
I told them about the things I could relate with (I’m nonbinary and I identify as genderfluid) and the things I experienced differently – namely, how I like the state of aspiration that comes with being between selves. Gray suggested I write a response post about the state of aspiration! So, here we are.
In their post, Gray expressed feeling frustrated with the “state of aspiration,” a term coined by Joshua Rothman that Gray reinterpreted in light of identifying as nonbinary. My understanding of this state is that it is the state of changing, rather than the state of having changed. Change is not “complete” as much as we’d like it to be. I guess I live in a constant state of aspiration. I’m always asking questions, changing my mind, redefining myself and my life, re-evaluating my decisions. I think I’d be miserable if it wasn’t the case.
Sometimes I revel in the shape of my body and I accentuate it however I can. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I think it’s completely wrong. Sometimes it’s just there, and like, whatever, I guess I need a body, right? But at the end of the day, I like my body. I refuse to be made to feel like my body is wrong.
And if you dislike your body, for whatever reason, if you want to change it, permanently or not, that’s totally ok and valid and worthy of support. But it’s not my situation. I love my body because sometimes I adore it. And yeah, sometimes I think it should be completely different, but those days don’t erase the days I love it. It’s like… will you get rid of your backyard because you can only garden in the summer? No. But if you never garden, then by all means, sell that backyard, my friend.
I mean. It's your backyard. Do what you want with it, it's all cool.
Shitty metaphor aside, this is what I want to say. I am so many people. I am one person, and that person is always the same, but I see it like a container, a person-shaped cauldron, and inside so many people are flowing. And I like that when I am one particular person more than the others I am not completely that person. Because it leaves space for the others to come.
Lately I’m a prickly theatre director, the kind of demanding jerk with big visions, big opinions, big emotions. He wears draping, colourful, dramatic clothes. He gets called “grumpy” a lot, which always confuses him, because he sees the beauty so much. He knows joy and he knows pain and he knows they come from the same place. He sees people not as who they are, but as who they could be, and that’s why he comes across as both overenthusiastic and overdemanding. Anyway. I use “he,” but he’s also loosely based around High School Musical’s Ms. Darbus (what an icon), and sometimes he doesn’t feel like a “he,” either.
Is it weird that I’m talking about a part of myself in the third person? Yeah, totally. I just want to emphasize that it’s a part of myself. It’s not all of myself.
So, what’s the plan? The plan is to live my gender authentically every moment I can and want to. And for me, that gender is the space between selves, and that’s ok, just as someone else’s gender might most decidedly not be in that in-between space. Gender is so… everything. Multidimensional. Vast. There are so many different genders, and then there’s the space between those genders, and that space is genders too. Unless that’s not what you want to call it.
And it’s all ok.
Before I finish this, I just want to say: I think the way we view gender is heavily tinted by our upbringing, how the world tried to fit us in certain categories, how rigid those categories were. In this way, I am conscious that my upbringing was unusual and my parents, very gender nonconforming (especially in the context of 90s-00s rural Canada). When I wrote, in my intro post, that I didn’t care about what pronouns you used to talk about me and that I thought gender was “unclear and illusionary,” I meant it. I’ve taken Intro to Sociology (and other sociology classes) but I still don’t really understand gender, least of all mine.
Writing this was hard, and posting it is scary, so props to Gray for writing the original between selves.
Next time, I will write about the inevitability of death! Yay!
Until then, courage.
i don’t know what march is like where you are. if you can feel the springtime coming. here (a corner of canada; this is nadine writing) you can’t. it’s cold, it snows, it’s cloudy. the only clue is the lengthening hours of daylight. and yet somehow that’s enough. you can feel it in others, this quiet resilience, a mixture of tiredness and hope. march is ugly. march is thick ice and grey snow, asphalt invisible under the rocks and the dirt, trees still bare, puddles bigger than the street, car wheels that spin loudly on the ice. sidewalks are the enemy, obstacle courses. march is not kind. but march is precious. thirty-one days. one month. march may not look like a gift. but i refuse to see it as anything else. maybe march is a test. maybe march is nature, vulnerable and wild, fragile and fierce, asking us “can you still love me like this?” and i want to be the kind of person who says yes. i want to be the kind of person who loves unconditionally. people, nature, life.
for me, these days, trying to love life unconditionally means two things: appreciating it as it comes and daring to reconsider it completely.
hopefully these favourites of ours will help you do just that. anchor yourself to the present and look to the future with hope. because you know what? there will be more. a month from now, we’ll make a favourites post, and none of us knows what will be in it yet. you’ll have new favourites too. definitely something worth sticking around for.
→ Debussy’s La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 1. De l’aube à midi sur la mer played by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap Van Zweden (released feb. 22, 2019). listen with closed eyes. you’re on a small fishing boat on the Atlantic Ocean by the coast of France. it’s dawn. the sun rises, the sea awakens. the sunshine reflects on the waves, blinding you at times. everything is saturated, but in a good way. the song ends at noon and you’re still out on the sea, with the sun at its zenith and your compass unwaveringly pointing north.
nadine: this is impressionist music; like the paintings from the same movement, its purpose is to create an impression in the mind of the person who encounters it. in this case, i find the impression startlingly and pleasantly clear. i know 9:16 sounds like a long time, but it’s so worth it. the last minute of this piece is pure euphoria to listen to for me (the chords!!!!). after i heard it the first time, i had to stop everything, remove my headphones and just laugh because who knew there were still such wonderful treasures i’d never heard before? you never know what you don’t know, and if that’s not a reason to stick around, i don’t know what is. finally, two things: (1) if you have time to listen to the entire programme/album, do it! it also features The Rite of Spring, which i actually discussed in my last post. (2) i will be back with a classical music (loosely-used term) piece each month. will probably discuss why i think classical music is beautiful, powerful and relevant in a blog post, but until then, i do hope you enjoyed this at least half as much as i did (and that would already be a lot).
→ Sucker Punch (LP) by Sigrid (released march 8, 2019). listen when you’re out for a walk on a sunny day, or on a cloudy day that you want to make sunnier.
nadine: Sigrid is my favourite newish player on the pop scene! this is her first LP. listen for a quirky voice and production with an upbeat vibe. i recommended the entire LP because LPs are a rare commodity these days, and LPs with many enjoyable songs are always a rare pleasure. if happy pop is not your thing, you may want to skip directly to the last song, Dynamite; otherwise, honestly, these are all straight from pop heaven.
→ Placeholder by Hand Habits (released march 1, 2019)
gray: the new album from meg duffy’s project hand habits is like a breezy spring morning. duffy’s sweet vocal melodies and melt over ephemeral instrumentation and evocative lyrics. let it fade away, in the bathtub with clay on your face (“are you serious?).
→ What Chaos is Imaginary by Girlpool (released february 1, 2019)
gray: i guess this month i’m into sprawling sounds. since the album came out earlier this year, i’ve been captivated by the vagueness of the lyrics and the moments of larger-than-life sounds (“what chaos is imaginary,” “chemical freeze”) mixed with soft, intimate moments (“all blacked out,” “hoax and the shrine”). let the sound surround you until what’s real becomes…well, imaginary.
→ Avalanche by Just Friends, and other songs on the playlist. listen with the lights dim, your body fluid and submissive to the way music asks you to move and groove. alternatively: on a porch watching a spring rain.
m: bonus points, moving on a rainy day. someone asked me recently what music i like and i froze and blurted out “reverb… beats… purple stuff that envelopes you and makes your body loosen up!” juicy songs to do yoga to. music in the background writing papers, yet the same music you can close your eyes in, and lose yourself in the waves. world building music. avalanche does this incredibly well. half through, the bass thrums in your chest, yet water trickles in the background, but all you can hear is a woman’s voice. then, a piano chord. it’s intricate, yet feels so simple and human. dip into it. then, shimmy your shoulders to playful cellos and basses and more in soul alphabet. dip and repeat.
→ Self Control by Frank Ocean and Cavetown and Dissect. listen loud, with that bittersweet ache, and a thought for summer, late at night, on the phone with your best friend.
m: covers are hit and miss. usually, i prefer the original, but sometimes an artist does a song so differently, or so distinctly theirs, that i fall in love (such as Somebody Else by Vérité.) this is true here. frank ocean’s self control is so intimate and distilled, a musical journal. beautiful. i suggest listening to the podcast dissect episode on the song. lyrically and sonically, it is an art, and irreplaceable. when cavetown, a red haired english boy, covered self control, i was skeptical. while very similar to frank ocean’s version, this version is somehow distinctly cavetown’s. listening to the tune, i could believe each version was written by the artist.
→ The Dream Chapter: STAR by TOMORROW X TOGETHER (or txt, for short). listen when you want to feel happy and excited and kinda silly. like afternoons in the summer with your best friends that you'll remember forever
julia: txt is a new group, they have debuted only a couple weeks ago, but I'm completely addicted to their debut EP. they are pretty young, with members ranging from 20 to 17, so their songs are basically about the growing pains of being a teenager. the main single, Crown, talks about a boy who one day wakes up with horns on his head and is afraid he turned into a monster. but then he meets a boy with wings and realizes that he's not alone in being a bit weird and now his horns feel more like a crown. even though i'm way past that age, i still can relate a lot to both feeling inadequate for something i was born with and trying to come to terms with that too the point where i can see the positive side of it. Also the songs are just bops, Cat & Dog is absolutely absurd and hilarious, it always puts a smile on my face.
→ this video of Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson’s acoustic cover of No Tears Left to Cry with violins and cellos for BBC Radio 1 (released dec. 11, 2018). watch at the end of the long day with the quiet conviction that you’ll find a plan.
nadine: i actually love covers, so i was already sold on the idea of combining this duo with one of my favourites 2018 releases, but this exceeded my expectations in every way. i’ve watched this oneit so often by now that now anytime i finish a video on youtube, however unrelated, youtube is like: “now this?” and i’m like: “YES!” i could probably write an essay about this cover/song. or Miley Cyrus. it’s so quiet but it feels so huge.
→ MARINA’s new album trailer (released march 8, 2019).
nadine: i like people who think deeply, creatively and earnestly. Marina, previously known as Marina and the Diamonds, is definitely one of those people. besides, album trailers are a cool concept, and this one doesn’t disappoint. about staying soft and kind, finding beauty, and finding love in the midst of fear.
→ John Green's Cause for Celebration (released november 20, 2018) for when you feel unwell and unhappy.
m: John Green reminds me how much humanness we have lost recently. sometimes i wonder at the human inclination, across culture and age, to dance. humans love to dance. along with this, humans, forever, have celebrated, for the seemingly smallest occurrences. sure, some of this is because people of history actually depended on things like rain to survive. a harder life, for sure, but a more thankful life. i wouldn't mind reclaiming some of this joy, especially in the dead of cold spring.
→ txt’s live performance of Crown
julia: this month has been really all about them for me and I'm simply in love with this choreography. it's so intricate and fun! I have watched it so many times but I'm still not sick of it.
→ Will You by Carrie Fountain, a poem to read on your kitchen counter.
m: this poem uses glitter to confront your wakefulness or apathy.
→ Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
→ Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House compiled by Molly Dillon
m: good for crying into your coffee when you should be working, or googling “credentials to work in the white house, wait a second, who’s the current president?”
→ Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience
m: i picked up my copy of this book today, and i am already stunned and touched. incredibly well written, featuring voices such as elizabeth acevdeo, chen chen, safia elhillo, and ocean vuong. steep in another's world.
→ matcha with vanilla almond milk. pairs best with lust for springtime and planning the present.
→ dirty chai with oat milk. a literal incarnation of the term “bittersweet.”
→ coffee, lots of coffee. currently my fave is a citrus chocolate blend from my friend's own brand. citrus + chocolate, opposites complementing each other instead of fighting, the kind of balance i want for my life.
→ this month was for Existential Questioning with much-deserved capitalization. examples of questions nadine has asked himself/herself/themself include: ♫ what does it mean to be a good person? ♫ why is it important to me to be a good person? ♫ what does it mean to do good in the world? ♫ just as i don’t want to pretend i know what’s best for someone else, can i pretend to know what’s best for the world? ♫ how may i balance altruism and hedonism; how may i contribute to the wellbeing of others while having fun? ♫ what is inner peace? is it attainable? is it a selfish thing to want? do i even really want that? ♫ why do i think i am currently alive as this particular human here? ♫ where does my pain come from? ♫ how much money do i really need, assuming i’ll live to old age? ♫ what motivated the past Big Life Decisions i’ve made? ♫ what pursuit brings me the most happiness, why, and why did i ever give it up? ♫ how can i find more people who don’t make me feel like a freak, who make me feel less alone? ♫ what do i want to do with my “one wild and precious life”?? ♫ what can i do now to start exploring the world more thoroughly? to have more fun? ♫ how may i reframe my feelings to realize that regardless of their degree of normality, they’re normal for me? ♫ how do i become the best friend i can be? ♫ etc. ♫
→ how can i be honest with myself without running away, terrified?
→ club prompts, 3/10/19 ☽ what do you stay for? ♡what is ur church? how do u pray? ☽ spoken word for a wordless song ☽ turn on a song. dance. move the way u need to. capture your thoughts + arising feelings ☽ poems for tarot cards ☽ instant film ♡send us your favorite skies
→ club prompts, 3/5/19 ☽ sink into the point of view of an original character ♡ use a morning routine to create a piece ☽ boat building ☽ what details encapsulates your february? ☽ the horoscope you need to read ☽ erasure ♡a light in the wrong place
what about you? what’s been making you think, lately, “i’m glad i stuck around long enough to discover this?” let us know!
I started reading tarot in the Spring of 2015, which was most definitely a Bad Time in my life – head full of deep, cakey mud that made it almost impossible for any wheels to turn. I stopped not long after. That’s why when people ask me when I started reading tarot, I usually say: December 2016. Because that’s when I really dedicated myself to it as a practice.
One card I never really understood was the Knight of Pentacles. I have a notebook in which I jotted down thoughts regarding each card’s meaning. Most cards have elaborate flow charts and mind maps. The upright Knight of Cups page just read “hard work”… for over a year and a half. Seriously. Two words.
I was fortunate enough to find The Creative Tarot by Jessa Crispin at my library last summer. In it, Crispin goes through every tarot card and illustrates it through famous artists or artworks, creativity-related anecdotes, etc. Bear in mind that this is most definitely not an introductory book; I would suggest a certain level of familiarity with the cards before reading this (i.e. being able to read each card comfortably with or without notes).
It would not be hyperbolic to say that this author revolutionized my understanding of the Knight of Pentacles. It’s true. Of course, between “hard” and “work”, there wasn’t much to revolutionize, but still.
Crispin relates the Knight of Pentacles to a particular number in The Rite of Spring, I think, or in The Afternoon of a Faun that had been produced a few months prior, I can’t remember. Point is: erotic ballet in the 1910s causing upheavals and controversy.
Jessa Crispin also mentions ballet in the discussion of the Nine of Pentacles, saying that the Nine of Pentacles looks like a ballerina floating onstage, but that, like the case is for the ballerina, a whole lot of hard work went behind it. This is something that helps me understand the use of the erotic ballet metaphor with the Knight of Pentacles. Another thing that helps is the reminder that the Knight of Pentacles is earth (Pentacles) and fire (Knight).
I got the Nicoletta Ceccoli deck in January 2017 and it is one of the two decks I am still using today (the second one being the Circo Tarot by Marisa de la Peña, which I got in August 2018). In that deck, the Knight of Pentacles is portrayed with a discarded heart-shaped sign on the ground on which the words “Hate me” can be read.
I never understood the point of that sign until I read Crispin’s Knight of Pentacles chapter. I feel so moved when I think of the vulnerability in that “Hate me” sign. I think that sometimes we ask for hatred because we’re tired of asking for love and being met with indifference. When we get past this need to claim others’ hatred – the moment I think the card may be portraying – we are ready to dare in the most authentic way possible, not to get reactions, but because that is what we feel in our gut we must do.
We’ll never know what Vaslav Nijinsky was trying to do with his erotic ballet, if he wanted to shock or if he was just going for the frankest form of expression he could imagine. Some people say The Rite of Spring was a publicity stunt, created entirely for its shock value; yet, others disagree. Did Stravinsky, Nijinsky and the others ask themselves “What is the most shocking thing I could make?” or “What is truest to the feeling and the vision I have inside?” Call me idealistic; I like to think it’s BOTH.
Because I’ve felt that way. So huge and electric and intense inside and like nothing I can make will shock others enough to make them understand. I can relate to the need for the high-pitched bassoon tune, for the dissonance, for the confusing rhythms, for the weird melodies. I’ll never know if Igor Stravinsky wrote those elements in his music because there was no way for him to create anything that satisfied him otherwise, or because he just sat down at his desk and thought something like: “Alright, let’s shock these rich Parisians and get me a lot of press attention.” But I like to think there’s an element of honesty in The Rite of Spring, and for the sake of this post – discussing the Knight of Pentacles – let’s say there is.
And so, I sense a duality in the Knight of Pentacles. On one hand, the training, the work, the physical care, repeating exercises over and over, bandaging our feet, showing up, buckling down. On the other hand, daring in the most authentic way possible.
See you in the next one: the inevitability of death.
Until then, I wish you the courage to channel your inner Knight of Pentacles.
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