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It Is Your Duty to Love
In whatever way you can
Welcome to the midweek(ish) version of An Irritable Métis. This is where things are usually a little less … irritable. If you forgot what this all is even about, you may remind yourself here. If you want to help me keep the lights on, well….
Winter is finally here, sort of. The temperatures have plummeted as low as the teens but it still isn’t all that cold. The air will frost your lungs a little bit but it doesn’t feel like an assault. We have had decent snowfall at times but it has been measured in inches here and there, not feet. My saunters at the river have been beautiful and misty and I am definitely in my element: I get to break out my good boots and my jackets and start to feel like a beardy dude from a Filson catalog. It makes me happy.
But I’m also restless and find myself missing the desert. I was there recently and I guess I didn’t get enough of it. I miss the mornings on the patio of the hotel, sipping coffee, watching the clouds, feeling the breeze, sitting at a table with no shoes on wearing only ill-fitting shorts and a ratty old half-unbuttoned shirt. Isn’t that the image of the true life of a shiftless writer? All it’s missing is cigarettes. *sigh*
Last week in elementary school poetry class we talked about and wrote poems related to the places we love. Poems of place, I called them. In one class that led to a discussion of whether we can love places that aren’t real. “Of course we can!” I exhorted. We started talking about all kinds of things, imaginary places from books we love—like Middle Earth, or for me, Hyboria—or even the places we make up in our minds. It was a wonderful discussion. 4th and 5th graders are smart.
I spent an evening afterword thinking of hiraeth, a Welsh word that means a kind of longing, or homesickness, or any yearning for something, even if it never existed. Who hasn’t felt that at some time in their life?
I haven’t listened to a whole lot of the music Nick Cave is most known for, like his work with the Bad Seeds, etc. But a few years ago I fell hard for the moody music he was doing along with Warren Ellis for soundtracks and stuff. Music from movies like The Proposition, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Road, Wind River, and others. I would say I’ve done more writing over the last few years to this music than any other (except for maybe RedBlueBlackSilver).
Anyway, Cave started this thing during the pandemic called The Red Hand Files. Basically, people send him questions and he answers them, or lumps several together of similar nature and essentially writes a little flash essay in response. He is kind and wise and I’ve grown to love him and his answers. I was originally going to refer to a recent one about friendship where he talks about his relationship with Ellis. It is lovely and I urge you to dig it HERE.
But then today he dropped the hammer on a piece in answer to the question, “I’m 17 years old, what can you tell me about love?” from someone named Mauro from Leuven, Belgium, combined with the question, “How do I not have my heart broken?” from Jenny in Paris, France. Cave’s answer broke my heart in all the best, terrible ways. An excerpt:
To love the world is a participatory and reciprocal action — for what you give to the world, the world returns to you, many fold, and you will live days of love that will make your head spin, that you will treasure for all time.
I urge you to please READ IT.
Maybe I’m just a big softie, I don’t know. Nick Cave has meant a lot to me these last few months, truly.
It’s not even been two weeks since I last looked at Twitter and what a difference. I’m inclined to think I’ll be back on it after Christmas sometime but man, I don’t know. It’s nice not subjecting myself to that hellscape. And look, not one irritated word in this entire post!
A place poem from Jim Harrison. It originally appeared in his book Saving Daylight but I hissed and cursed my way through photographing itout of his new Complete Poems.
Yet. (see below)
Is it just me or have phones gotten super unwieldy anymore? Slippery, unbalanced, impossible to use with one hand, do everything but work as an actual phone…. (*mutters unintelligibly, shakes fist at sky*)