This week’s Dear Polly feels very very personal (“SHARP KNIVES NEED TO KNOW THAT WANTING TO BE HEARD IS NOT A CRIME”) and it’s really good.
"Walk away. You have worlds inside you—swirling, colorful, mournful, generous, soaring, hopeful, searing, heartbreaking worlds. You cannot offer just a tiny slice of you. You cannot hold back the flood. You want to share those worlds. You are way too big, too complicated, too glorious and infinitely sad and unspeakably divine. You have to share all of it. Find someone worthy of all of it. Find someone who wants ALL OF IT."
Intermission at the American Ballet, New York City
Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1936
Maybe that was part of the reason why going to the Bangerz Tour was so refreshing and yes I will even say life-affirming: Nobody there was trying to debate, like, Ted Gioia’s Daily Beast article between sets. 99+% of the girls (yes, they were mostly girls) there would not know/care about what “rockism” meant, or whatever insider-baseball circle jerk the “music writing community” was engaged in that day. They were just there to freak out over the music they loved.
Such a great essay, and applicable to the larger writing world, too. (And art, and tech, and all these things that allow groups of people to turn inward on themselves: “I have started thinking lately that social media has made us all too connected, has made it too easy to find like-minded people at the expense of unique viewpoints, too easy to burrow into niche conversations and tune out the larger world around you.”)
I have no technique for asking questions. I just stay there and fade away as I watch people do what they do.
I don’t like this expression “First World problems.” It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.
One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion’s technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don’t wake up with “poor African” pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is—quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.
Writer, reader, journalist. 21.
I like road trips, reading everything, making lists and drinking beer on the front porch.
All these things I lived through—the strange and fugitive beauty of the desert and the mountains, the primitive realities, the sky and the sand, so easily dissolving in mysteries and visions. All the quiet common things of the earth I came to love, and the simple and useful human beings—life going on, going on.
— Ray Stannard Baker, American Chronicle