I love Bruce Springsteen, his song ‘working on a dream’ that he played as an opening act for Obama got me thinking today. In case you haven’t heard it, here’s a favourite line of mine:
Now the cards I’ve drawn’s a rough hand, darling
I straighten the back and I’m working on a dream
It’s traditional come December for most of us to start thinking about the year ahead, the next harvest – what we hope to achieve and so on. I’m quite inspired by the notion of working on a dream, and instead of looking forward, today I’m looking back and I wanted to share with you some of the best moments, memories and friendships – a few old year resolutions!
1. I’m thankful to have the right to marry my girlfriend, in my own country. It astounds me how many people are willing to pipe up against the dreams, aspirations and civil rights of their fellow countrymen – but those very people will not show the same vigour of passion and energy when it comes to simply making their communities better places to be. If you have the courage to judge strangers, wouldn’t it be amazing to see that courage channelled towards positive causes too? One can only hope, and I do.
2. I have a dear friend in Indonesia, a brother more than a friend, his name is Mikael Johani and like me – he has the same poetry bug that we both can’t recover from When we met in early 2012, comrades within the same poetry festival, I remember watching him perform some works and my heart was flying a bit. He had this amazing tattoo on his arm and it wasn’t finished, a handsome prince. On our last day together, I put my malu on his tattoo and I knew we would be bound for life.
Mikael being an incredible human, surprised me a month later with this image. Needless to say I was blown away! As he turns his arm, you see the frigate birds are flying the prince into the future. I will always be a part of him, and he will always be, a part of me. That’s an incredible friendship I reckon!
3. In a recent job interview I was asked what the most important thing is to me, conducting myself professionally, it was one of those strange out of body experiences – I heard myself say ‘responding to opportunity’ and I realised much of my life has been built on this premise. So what does it mean to respond to opportunity? I think it has something to do with faith, something to do with follow through, and a lot to do with passion. Every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around.
4. I write about my family a lot, what I probably don’t share enough – even with myself, is the immense hardships we’ve come through to be who we are today. I met up with a friend last week, it struck me from her impression of my writing that things must be beautiful and rosy all the time. I’m proud of the battles we’ve won, I’m proud of the fact that I can always talk to my parents no matter what – that doesn’t mean that I’ve always understood the world like that. There was a time when I couldn’t be completely open and just myself, I thank all the higher powers for getting me through long periods where I did suffer in silence. I think about my own internal wars with anxiety, depression and many dark clouds that I waded through. Looking for the light means being the light. That’s my greatest realisation of this year and one thing I’m so incredibly happy to finally understand!
5. The privilege of trial and error, this is a big one – living in a world where I can try, fail and get back up again for another round is an immense gift. We forget in our little first world bubbles, what a gift failure is – what an opportunity it is to test and extend yourself. I’ve never been big on numbers, I love words, but I’ve decided to strengthen that part of myself and how glorious that I can? We have little idea what it’s like to be within the confines of a life without ample food and water, shelter and love (and wifi~!) it isn’t about changing the world – it’s about changing attitudes. Being conscious of the fact that you are living someone’s dream, that someone somewhere – falls asleep in squalor every night just wishing they could be clothed, cared for and understood the way you are – that is a truth that comes with a responsibility to treat your existence with tenderness. The more amazed you are by your own working limbs, your crazy mind and changing moods, how bountiful and whole your time on this planet has been – only then can you begin to comprehend the profound struggle of others, and maybe, just maybe, you might choose to do something about it.
6. I have a partner who drives me nuts, some days we’re like a symphony, other days it’s how I imagine under water metal would sound: cray cray! I read somewhere that you shouldn’t expect your needs to be met by anyone but yourself, under any circumstances. I can see how that ideal gained traction, and why so many people have a preference to believe in an extreme user-pays neo-liberal existence that exceeds market mentality, over flowing into our personal lives and how we engage with others. I can interpret just how clean cut it seems, how safe to imagine that any bad feelings are your own, along with the good ones. The difficulty is, humans aren’t solitary creatures. I like to think of myself as being a solitary jungle tiger, but the reality is far from it. I absolutely look to have some of my needs met by my partner and when they are, it’s a bit like Christmas and New Years rolled into one. I am learning what it means to love someone, and you don’t love them alone – every time we fight my mother knows about it, and on the weekend when she surprised me with flights to Budapest for my birthday my best friends immediately knew about it. I am just another human, trucking along trying to make sense of things. I don’t know when I will publish my next book, or when I’ll have my next residency, or international tour, or the next time the BBC might interview me to 40 million listeners. What I do know is how soft and vulnerable I am, packaged into black boots, black Ray Bans, black tights and a very London black coat. If a bomb fell, I would fall with it too, and if the earth shook I’d be dancing on the walls. And you know what? That’s actually great. It takes humanity to work on things you can’t see or explain. I hope all of your dreams come true, if you make an old years resolution list – you might be surprised to see just how many already have
Happy old year! x