Island studio scene with anonymous responses projected on the wall
January 6, 2020

Consolation

Calm water on the Baltic Sea and a low January sun at noon. For a moment I can feel the warmth on my cheek. She pulled an all-nighter last night because time does not exist here. Darkness falls before you get used to the light. If you listen closely, you can hear the thrum of the ferry engine in the walls. More news from America, none of it good. Drone strikes, tantrums, and hijacked democracy.

Meanwhile, we began organizing the three thousand responses we received from our Light the Barricades project, preparing them for a book. Here’s a small sample of these anonymous handwritten dispatches, each one a lone voice joining a chorus: I’m tired of having to be resilient. I don’t like the wall blocking Mexico because I can’t see my cousin. I feel guilty for surviving. I don’t know if I belong. I’m not setting a good example for my daughter. I keep looking for healing in the place that broke me. Sometimes I wonder what the effect will be in the long run, bearing witness to so much handwritten pain. “First let this be consolation,” she says. “Then let it be courage.” I think about the meditative practice of tonglen, of breathing in the anger and suffering of others and exhaling kindness. Perhaps, in some small way, this project can become something like that.


Leyland Kirby – Consolation

We, so tired of all the darkness in our lives | More

Here comes a heartbeat drum, thumping in the distance like a half-remembered b-side by The Ronettes or The Crystals, a vintage rhythm slowly falling to pieces while plaintive strings rise. Like a heavily sedated love song from the hit parade of a more dignified age, Leyland Kirby’s We, so tired of all the darkness in our lives is a reassuring soundtrack for these undignified times. It’s a reminder that music can harmonize with—and perhaps even momentarily sooth—the crazy thoughts we’re forced to carry these days, if only for a moment or two.

Each night in 2020 I'm writing a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I want to etch these days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changes completely.
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