I would include a picture of the cajun pancakes I just had for lunch, or a snippet of the graffiti wall in this cafe, maybe with a blurred waitress rushing past – I want to say that she speaks New Zealand – as in – she’s from home, Aotearoa – I would focus on these things and illustrate the kind of prophetic lustre that Brixton creates, that London anticipates – but it’s a bit like the Matrix (you have to see it for yourself).
Last night I experienced an attempted mugging. I’m far too precious with my words, the thought of handing them over to a car load of thugs was beyond me. I said no and ran away. There’s nothing glamourous about being down and out in London (not Paris sorry) like the famous Orwell novel (if you haven’t read it – do). There’s nothing particularly creative, or self defining, about a surge of chaotic limbs unlike any that resemble you. And it’s definitely up to the person, apparently, how ‘tough skinned’ you are, to decide how much of this smoke cloud you absorb, or not. London is a bit like the girl you always wanted to ask out, then she takes you home one night and when you see her without her makeup not only is she human, she’s a little crazy, and it’s unnerving because – it turns out you are too.
I’ve never been very good at asking for help. I’m one of those retarded (said with pop-culture love) artists that prides myself on never having asked for government funding for a single project. I could never identify with the hordes who had, the idea of sharing the flesh of my ideas with faceless agencies who wanted to simply – tick – some box – somewhere – made my stomach lurch. My international jaunts have been pre-furnished by international agencies, somewhere other, and those figures made sense in my rush to believe in a global reckoning – that I had no hands out – I was merely shaking hands.
Of course it isn’t sustainable, not the issue of surviving as an artist without funding – the idea of living as a human without doubt, without needs, without desperation. For a long time my shoulder was cried on. A lot of people, some famous, some infamous, some online, some struggling, some overwhelmed by success. I have been like a sort of human camera, capturing impressions of the other – feeling forms – flesh bound creatures – but it was never me bearing the soft v of my throat, the paua lines of my wrist – I was not in the way of being vulnerable.
Perhaps all your chickens come home to roost, perhaps art is a temporary escape into the ideal world of the mind – and the poems and paintings we create are little windows into a different world, glimpses of the internal world we hide and defend and yet defy, so well. Perhaps I have been naive to imagine the membrane, the veneer, the varnish of success would thicken and marble into granite over time, and keep me safe from the real world – the world outside the front door – full of real lives, people feeling and falling, not onto the page, but onto their knees.
I have been falling onto my page for a long time. Today is the first day of my new life, not so much on my knees, but in the honest open air of vulnerability, loss, disappointment, distress, sheer wits and the always brooding unknown. I might not have the land I did back home, but I have the little brother I lost, who I could never speak of or write about. I have found my 15 year old self and freed her. I have reached out to my parents for help, to friends I barely know, to kind strangers. And it is all, ok.
I have survived and escaped with my life, all of my lives, and in some strange but incredible way – I am the fullest and happiest I have ever been. So – yes to asking for help, yes to accepting help, yes to feeling helpless and lost and fallible and all of those things I’ve been running from and escaping and creating from for far too long.
It turns out, the bright side of life is not all bright. It is actually, a murky in-between light, a bit of grey sky and a few splashes of blue, not all blearing serenity. The bright side of life is choosing to live.