Happy new year! Emphasis on the ‘happy’… Everyone has already said “God, hopefully this one will be better than the last!” Or, for the more pessimistic folk: “this year is already a steaming pile of shit and we’re only a couple weeks in”, and now I have something to say about that.
I have recently come to truly understand the statement “all that matters is right here, right now”. Comparing today to yesterday is futile, so why throw away a whole year by comparing it to one we’ve just struggled through? I’m sure all of us had even a slither of happiness in 2020 that can be remembered. Perhaps it was something funny you saw on TV that you couldn’t stop laughing at. Maybe it was a new baby being born into your family, and having the joy of a nativity took you out of the virus-anxiety. It could’ve been finding love, when the world felt against you, and you happened to get together with someone who is on your side unconditionally. In the grand scheme of things, 2020 was awful, but little hoorahs matter. Every time you smile, or laugh, or do something you enjoy without shame, or hear your favourite song, or embrace someone dear to you, remember those moments and suddenly the outside world will start to seem a little bit less intense. If you have yin, you need yang. If you feel joy, you must feel sorrow. And if we had 2020, we are going to have 2021. We have the power to control our own destinies, don’t let moody cunts on Facebook shit on your year. And stop watching and listening to the news so much. It’s practically self-harm at this point.
I can be pretty good at handing out advice to others, and pretty shite at applying it to my own life. I have days where I just think, “I’m going to die anyway, so what’s the point?”. I have other days when I am so driven by ambition, passion and excitement, that a slap in the face couldn’t even ruin my mood. I realise I need to find a balance, and I am trying – essentially all I can do. One mindfulness exercise coined by Dr Daniel Siegel is called ‘name it to tame it’. If we can recognise and describe an intense emotion we are feeling, it makes it easier to identify that mood and recover from it. This doesn’t mean it will go away at the snap of a label, but being able to view the feeling in an objective manner can help to detach from it.
Us humans have these strange things in us, these weird little self-inflictors of pain, called brains. Our brains can get so tangled in their own windups that they start deceiving us and causing havoc. I get overwhelmed very easily, wanting to let out all of my frustrations but I’m often at a loss on how to do so. I usually write poetry whenever I’m going through something (good or bad). But I don’t always have the inspiration to do so when I’m in a really low mood, so I can start feeling helpless in helping myself. I have decided that when these moods come along, I am going to write in a diary a long flow of the factors of my dark feelings. Something no one will read, nor myself once it’s out, just putting pen to paper (something so soothing to me) and hopefully this will extract the problems and become something I’ve written, opposed to something I’m feeling. I haven’t tried this out yet. I suppose I’ll give an update in the next newsletter, if one of these moods do arise. This is my version of ‘name it to tame it’, as writing is my truest source of peace. Hopefully you can craft your own version, altering the original technique to fit you and your make up. No two humans are the same, so why all follow the same tricks to wellness? My idea of happiness is most likely vastly different to yours, and we should be aware of that when adopting lifestyles or practices.
Anyway, enough about the miserable stuff. 2020 was certainly in that category, and I’m sick and tired of bitching about things being awful. I would like to share some good bits that happened in 2020 for me.
I went to India on my own:
I’m grateful to have the privilege to go abroad, I know that it’s not an available option for many people. I went to India in the March of 2020 for six weeks. It was supposed to be eight, but due to the corona virus I came home earlier than planned.
I was nineteen when I went. I have flown on my own since I was around ten years old, through airline setups that allow children to fly without their parents, so I am no stranger to this part. But I have never gotten to the destination with no family or friends waiting for me. It was daunting, but taught me so much. I met a wonderful woman who I spent time with in Agonda, Goa and we still regularly speak on the phone. It has been a blessing to meet her and she is a very dear friend. I got to reconnect with a family who I met in India as a baby, and it was lovely to know that even though I was out there alone, I had people watching over me.
I walked along the beach everyday, laid in the sun, read books. Ate the best food. I took a train from Goa to Kerala, one of my favourite experiences and one I hope to do again in the future. My parents met in Kerala, in a restaurant. The chef there became one of their dear friends and since then our families have been very close. We are all one big family, in truth. He very sadly passed away a few years ago, something that broke all of our hearts. I met up with two of his three daughters, my sisters, and his wife in Kerala and stayed with them for a week. It is one of my favourite memories of 2020 and I feel blessed to have them all in my life. I also feel blessed to have had a week of eating his wife’s (mummy, we call her) food. It is truly like being fed from the hand of God.
This opportunity to travel gave me a much deeper understanding of people and the world and gifted me an experience that helped me grow. When I lived in London I was very independent, something that expelled a lot of my anxieties about doing things on my own. Even little things like ringing the doctors or taking a walk. Going to India was another step into the realm of adulthood and I am so grateful to have had that experience.
I set up Lyric Deep:
I have been planning to create this website for years. I always put it off, and I now see it was because I just wasn’t ready. In the summer I read a book called Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis and it was the push I needed to make this website live.
When you write poetry for such a long time and don’t share it, it is a strange feeling. You almost feel like you are sitting on dynamite, on gold-dust dynamite, with no matchstick. I’ve known since I was very young that I wanted to pursue a career in the creative arts and I had all the encouragement and material to do so, but I was worried about failing. Now I feel the word ‘fail’ is bullshit. You never fail, you just don’t always succeed. Big difference.
To even get one view on the website makes me feel proud, makes me feel seen and heard and excited. In 2020 I got 2199 views on here, since starting it in July. That number just blows my mind. I went from sharing my poetry to the odd friend here and there, to having a couple thousand views. It is not the number that I am hungry for, per se. It is the fact that I can share something that I am so passionate about and that it is really getting out there and people like it. It is the greatest feeling in the world to have your art appreciated. If any of you are on the fence about pursuing your creativity professionally, I too was in such war on whether I was confident enough to share work so personal and meaningful to me, and it is so worth it. I really recommend getting it out there, and reading Creative Calling. You will never regret it.
I have played the keyboard since I was seven, achieving an associate diploma with The Victoria College of Music and I attended the Access Creative college for two years, receiving a BTEC diploma in music performance. I have always wanting to merge my poetry with my music, but it felt like I had to pick one of the two to pursue. Music became a hobby, after years of wanting it to be my professional career, and writing took the lead as my work. I finally have an opportunity to bring my two passions together, and two of my closest friends and I have begun rehearsals as a band. I will be performing my poetry as spoken word, one of my friends will be on the drums and my other friend will play the bass on some songs, the guitar on others. We will hopefully be able to get some music out this year, and it will be posted on the website. Very exciting stuff!
I read twenty-three books:
I went through my diary (where I write what I’ve done each day) for 2020 and counted up how many ‘finished book’ scribbles there were. Last year I read twenty-three books, ranging from Dickens to Edwige Danticat to Kate Fox. I read self-help books, novels, information books, biographies. Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. Last year, I was really dedicated to making it a habit to read every night (thanks to Atomic Habits by James Clear) and it has improved my cognitive function, my memory, and meant I haven’t spent so much time on my bloody phone. I have loved reading for years, but 2020 really transformed that into a daily practice. I think to write means to read. Reading so regularly has improved writing a lot and helped me understand the different structures and archetypes of writing. My goal for 2021 is to read thirty books, and I’m three in. Cheers to reading!
I want to finish off by saying fuck the government, fuck the corona virus, fuck the banks, fuck the big corporations and fuck the arseholes who are trying to strip us of our rights day by day. What matters is the people, not the ‘powers’. They have only earned this accolade because they’ve told us that they are powerful and we have let them become so. This is our time to reclaim our power, a true power, bonded by unity, love and understanding. It is so easy, we just need enough people to realise that. We will not be broken. Let’s make 2021 the year of us, the year of people and community and positive action. “Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi. One of the greatest quotes ever said.
WIAEA (What I Am Excited About):
Song: Aeroplane by Red Hot Chili Peppers – just a fucking chooooon mate.
Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Caelho – this book was gifted to me for Christmas and it has truly inspired me. It tells the story of following your dreams, formatted as a novel. It is easy to read, it is a great story, and it teaches some very important lessons in pursuing what you want to pursue. I started writing a novella in the first lockdown but I disposed of the idea about 17,000 words in, unsure how to structure the book and where to take it. The Alchemist inspired me to start writing it again. I feel everyone, no matter what age, profession or culture, would benefit from this book.