I am currently reading Rachel Cusk’s Transit, which is the second book in her Outline trilogy about a writer, Faye, who goes through multiple phases in her life and the books in the trilogy documents conversations with — more of like anecdotes from — people of whom she has met. That is basically what the trilogy is about — they are entirely plotless, and if they were any, they play a minor role to any of the things happening around her. Faye, the protagonist, more so than the one initiating conversations, is just there to listen (“I had found out more by listening than I had ever thought possible”) and everyone seems more than willing to open up to her. The central theme is the philosophical anecdotes (“… the problem with being honest, he said, is that you’re slow to realize that other people can lie”, “it seemed to me that most marriages worked in the same way that stories are said to do, through the suspension of disbelief”,) dispensed by all the people in her life — from her ex, to the plumber, to the renovator, to her stylist, and so on so forth — which got me wondering about the whereabouts of all of the smart, ordinary people conversationalists in my life, or was I not paying enough attention?
By virtue of nothing whatsoever, I have been trying to articulate something, anything, that describes how I felt towards ending 2019 and entering the new year and the new decade as a whole. And aside from the fact that I slowed down on work almost completely and decided to focus full time on my thesis, one thing I managed to commit in 2019: keeping indoor plants. I started by keeping some succulents, but they never lived — more so I never knew how to keep them alive (do I water you often? do I water you little? do I not water you at all?) so I decided to input literally these keywords online: “plants that communicate what they want” and most recommendations directed to a pothos. So I got one (then two, then three, now four) and they easily tripled in length over months! I am happy for my serpentine babies with their healthy shiny leaves and tendrils climbing all over the room.
Author Austin Kleon shared these excerpts from the book The Liberty Hyde Bailey Gardener’s Companion on the connection between our state of mind and being able to nurture the best form of relationships — which made me think a lot about the wonderful friendships I have made and kept (and friendships which didn’t work that I kept distance from because I finally learned they were painful to me) this year when I am now in my most optimum state of mental health so far:
The satisfaction of a garden does not depend upon the area, nor, happily, upon the cost or rarity of the plants. It depends upon the temper of the person. One must first seek to love plants and nature, and then to cultivate that happy peace of mind which is satisfied with little. He will be happier if he has no rigid and arbitrary ideals, for gardeners are coquettish, particularly with the novice. If plants grow and thrive, he should be happy; and if the plants which thrive chance not to be the ones which he planted, they are plants nevertheless, and nature is satisfied with them. We are apt to covet the things which we cannot have; but we are happier when we love the things which grow because they must.
There is a word I wanted to write so badly about, but I think I will wait until it’s the perfect time for it to make an appearance. It’s about celebration long overdue, one that I totally deserve, for I had been keeping myself small over the years in order for other people to feel bigger. I can sense its arrival, for 2020 onwards is the year my fears are not allowed where I am going.
Some related, some not:
- Every bright spot in this new image is a distant galaxy.
- Channelling anger into positive action requires careful thought, not just reaction, which means that our best responses arise when we’re not upset and are less intent.
- “I begin again with the smallest numbers.”
- Reading: Rachel Cusk’s Transit.
- Viewing: Thor: The Dark World was on the telly. I also have Netflix’s A Year in Space in the queue, which is about two men who subject themselves to the harsh punishment of living in space, for science.
- Listening: Discovered French folktronica/pop psychedelic musician, Samba de la Muerte through my Spotify Discovery this week.
- Food & Drink: I decided to torture myself (again!) eating this Korean hot ramen noodle, Samyang. My unexplained affinity with Samyang noodles can be summarised through this monologue after consuming one, “why did I do this to myself? It’s so hot!” yet I would find myself buying them more the next day.