This is what I call “the golden hour” in Edinburgh: when the sun is lower in the sky, leaning towards sunset, but not quite lessened in its strength. The best is when it’s reflected off of the yellow sandstone in Edinburgh and everything glows gold. The picture below almost captures the essence of it, but not quite. The picture above was taken a minute after I stepped out of work at Nile at the end of the day, heading home with my husband, into the sunlight. This life is good to me.
A new favorite book: A Way of Being Free by Ben Okri. I read the first essay at work today; I only meant to copy out a few passages that I liked, but I had to stop myself from copying down the whole thing. I will type it out and send it to you, because I’m sure you would like it. It felt like a job description, finally, of what I can be used for. A call to arms. A manifesto, something to follow and build off of. Here’s the best part from the first essay:
Poets, be cunning. Learn some of the miracles. Survive. Weave your transformations in your life as well as in your work. Live. Stay alive. Don’t go under, don’t go mad, don’t let them define you, or confine you, or buy your silence. If they do confine you, burst out of their prisons with wilder fatidical songs. Be a counter-antagonist, break their anti-myths. Where the enemies breed destructions, sow seeds of startling lights. Keep sowing. Time will reap. Weave your songs by whatever means you can. ‘What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,’ wrote Nietsche. There is no reason why the poet, if possessed of practical intelligence, cannot survive as well as the politician, or the banker. Don’t become a dying breed. Dare to stick around for the hard and beautiful harvest. We need you even as we antagonize you. Remember: it is from the strength of your antagonists that you derive your greater authority. They make it absolutely necessary for you to be more than yourself. Follow Melville’s precept, which he had nailed to his writing desk: ‘Be true to the dreams of thy youth.‘ After your untimely and much lamented death, we would shout about how much we miss the uniqueness of your voice, your demanding presence, your duende. Don’t wait till you’re dead to know that in reality the whole of life is on your side.
Poet, be like the tortoise: bear the shell of the world and still manage to sing your transforming dithyrambs woven from our blood, our pain, our loves, our history, our joy. The lonely and inescapable truth simply is that this is the only kingdom you will ever have. This is the home of your song.
– Ben Okri, While the World Sleeps
In an interview, Okri says this book “coalesced around the idea of freedom, but it was more an attitude, an orientation even.” It is certainly strong of thought and heart.
Good night, T.