I usually write to you from the comfort of my kitchen table, where no one can see me, where I can write for free. We’ve been keeping the heat off all winter, though, so it’s a little chilly on the home front. (We’ve saved a ton of money though. Worth it.) Today, however, I am writing to you from Wireless Wiz, a phone repair shop downtown. I’m sitting in what appears to be a large wooden throne. When I walked in, two teenagers were sitting on this the same bench. Making out. Oh, to be young. The throne is just one of the many medieval-dungeon-style decorations in Wireless Wiz. There are large, metal light fixtures attached to the stone wall, a wooden gate type thing affixed to the ceiling, and a row of large, metal chandelier things. There’s also a gumball machine. And a table with two children’s books on it, Goodnight Moon and All Around Busy Town. Interesting.
I’m here because my phone is a broken piece of shit and I can’t afford the new one I want. I can’t afford it because I already bought it, and then lost it, and suspect that it may be one of the dented, scratched ones under the glass that’s being resold at market value; it did fall out of my pocket on this very block, after all. But whatever. Will never know. Moving on.
Moving on to the tune of $90 for screen repairs. Repair: what I should’ve done in back in December, since I’m someone who used to believe in reducing, reusing, and repairing instead of buying the shiniest, new thing. I double-backed on my values and fell into the trap of consumerism. It’s not hard to do. It’s so comfortable. Everyone does it.
“Everyone does it,” is what you tell your parents when they try to lecture you about smoking pot. Or not-smoking-pot, rather. “Everyone does it” is what you tell your friends when they sleep through class. “Everyone does it” is often a trap. An excuse. At best, I use it in attempt to forgive myself for doing something common, but something I disagree with. At worst, it’s being complicit in systems that produce and reproduce social inequality, that does little to protect the planet and those who are most vulnerable with respect to the changing climate.
But what if I don’t want to be “everyone”? In my clowning class (yes, i am enrolled in Yale’s only seminar on clowning…please ask me any and all questions you have. i love talking about it.), in clowning class we practice being vulnerable as we try to express the stuff that churns deep within us. The molten lava. The birthplace of weird. Different. We are told not to do things for a quick laugh, but rather to take risks with our bodies and our voices. It’s a practice of unleashing your inner weirdo. Fortunately, my inner weirdo lives a few centimeters below the surface, so I can tap in pretty easily. Especially if I’ve had a cup of coffee. It’s terrifying and satisfying and gratifying. And it’s a reminder of just how important it is to foster social-emotional connections, to flirt with our honest emotions, our primal selves. Being like someone else, no matter how funny that person is, doesn’t serve you or anyone. It’s identity theft. Being yourself, no matter how different, no matter how difficult, is the way to go.
I spent a solid chunk of Tuesday evening setting reminders on my calendar about when what bills were due and how much they typically cost. I have other calendars full of reminders for other things I wouldn’t otherwise remember. But I’ve been thinking lately about other kinds of reminders, spiritual reminders. Remember: Social media can be a tool, but it can also be a weapon of mass distraction. Phones can be useful, but they can also be weapons of mass distraction. Bills need to be paid, but we are here to serve a greater purpose: to be present to ourselves and others. Small acts of kindness, generosity, are important. Taking strong stances on issues, especially at a time when our government is as truly frightening as it is at this moment, is important. When you have the ability and privilege to do so, giving your body, your mind, your time up to serve others is essential. Resting your body, your mind, and giving yourself time to digest, heal, take care is essential. Write love letters. Take hot showers. Be grateful for the ability to love. To take hot showers. Say ‘thank you’ to people who have helped you, mean it, and repeat it. Dance–spontaneously and often–as you would if you were four years old. A reminder that this life is short and we can spend it in and out of a rut, the trap that has been set for us, to live like everyone else, or we can take individual approaches, create the new thing, abandon it, and start all over again. It’ll be terrifying. But surely gratifying, satisfying, too.
HOKAY well, my iphone screen hath been repaired by the medieval knights of Wireless Wiz. Thank you, medieval knights of Wireless Wiz. I’ve been listening to some badass, weird women lately. Found this gem from Imogen Heap. Enjoy. Be true. Be weird. Be brave. With love,