I often wonder how you're doing, whether you're still trying to be a morning person, or if you've cut back on caffeine like you said you wanted to. I guess I don't really know what's going on with you day-to-day lately... I guess what I mean to say is: How are you?
Me? Well... It's hard to say.
If I wanted to hide the truth from you (and a part of me does), I'd tell you I've been doing fine. I'm not trying to be dramatic. It would just be easier to say that, and then I could go on and discuss some nonsense, faking meaningful connection and never really getting anywhere. Honestly, I don't really mind lying about it to most people. But I don't want to lie to you right now. Last year was difficult.
Have you ever met someone that electrified you, suddenly imbuing life with senses you've never experienced, narratives you've never considered, colors you've never imagined? Someone who even made you feel like God or the universe actually cared about your happiness? How sweet and terrifying, that taste.
And then have you had that someone completely turn on you the first moment you got in the way of what they wanted? You realize you were always subhuman to them, a scab to pick and throw away. Chaff, detritus, filth. (You lodged the wolf in your heart first like a harpoon. Then came the bloody metamorphosis.)
I don't want to go on too long about it now. It was a whole thing. I had to get the police involved and... Maybe I'll tell you the whole story next time we grab a drink. (Do you still like whiskey, by the way?)
I'm reaching out because I thought you might feel the same way about last year. And if you don't, maybe you could share some of your joys with me. Either way, I thought we could do 2018 together. I promise to send you a letter on the last day of every month. Feel free to respond, but no pressure!
I just want things to be better this year. And that means not just being hopeful, but doing something different. So I wanted to process with you a little.
I've been thinking a lot about poisons, from both a literary and a biological perspective. (Yeah, I can see your "I'm not surprised" face haha. Let me live!) I'm thinking about their mechanism of action in the body, the way venom evolved in living things, their ripe analogy for the things we willingly ingest and internalize.
I think it's a really interesting framework for thinking about why things happen a certain way and how we respond to them. Poisons are, well, poisons, but they're also undeniably useful. Besides acting as natural defense systems for plants and animals, we've learned to make wonderful things from them, like painkillers, blood pressure medication, or even cancer treatment.
A scientist for the Museum of Natural History, Dr. Mark Siddall, has a really cool perspective on this. "What is a poison? It's a substance that interferes with normal physiological processes, that alters or stops them, or makes things happen. That is essentially what medicines are, too."
It's all a matter of dose, perspective. And once we understand how they work, hopefully we can make them work for us. So I want to look at our poisons of choice, with a view to healing. It will take some alchemy, but I think it'll be well worth the time. Let me know if you want to talk about any "poisons" in particular. If nothing else, tell me how you're doing! How you're really doing.
Above all else, I want you to know I'm here for you. I want you to know I'm still trying to believe in the little magics, the intermittent sparks that make life worthwhile. It's hard, but I'm trying. After my 2017, this season feels like the desert. The quiet scorch. The bitter, poisoned waters at Marah.
Have you ever seen Spirited Away? I can't tell if I'm the listless, reluctant Chihiro in the beginning before her adventure...
Or the same character after, when she's survived a horrifying series of events, ready to take on the rest of her life with new strength.