What was on my mind in 2022
Another Year, The Same Newsletter — Observations From The Internet Wilderness.
In today’s newsletter, I share my annual thought patterns. This is one of my favorite letters to write and I often return to past editions during the year. Here are the 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018 editions.
As the attentive reader will notice, I skipped the resolutions. For some reason, it didn’t feel right to make them. However, I can assure you that I am excited to return next Sunday with the usual links to the Internet Wilderness because my carrier bag is packed to the rim.
I’d like to thank Deborah Levy, Ocean Vuong, Björk, Laurel Schwulst, Chia Amisola, James Bridle, Robin Sloan, Everest Pipkin, and Ana Santl, for conversations, real and imaginary, we have had during the year.
About to be birthed, but already felt
We are on Venø, the island I first saw a seal outside of the Christmas show I watched on television as a child. Ana and I walk closest to the waterline where the sand is moist and hard, watching our steps for the incoming waves, chatting to the breeze, and observing my family with long identical legs, they walk away from the water. Furthest ahead, with his eyes fixated on the horizon, walks my granddad, and to the rear, my grandmother completes the herd. She is forward-bend, participating in the family tradition of scouting for fossils. At this time, Uno is an idea in our hearts.
My grandparents have lived in the same house for nearly sixty years. One time they expanded it to accommodate their three kids, who grew to become a priest, a biologist, and a nurse. When I was a child, their garden was a field of production, with a well-kept vegetable garden, rows of berry bushes, and fruit trees dotting the lawn that I assisted my granddad in keeping millimeters tall. After retirement, their home traveled to the garden through the windows. Today, the chickens are slaughtered, and the sandy soil, where water runs smoothly through, accommodates hundreds of rhododendron, alpine plants, and driftwood fantasies. And the pear tree that was planted at my birth stretches its branches from edge to edge of the house like the Vitruvian Man, with the ripe fruits vibrating the orderly grid.
The land outlasts the empire
It is one of life’s purest gifts to give a home: To make the bed, shop for groceries, do the laundry, wipe the surfaces, clean the windows, vacuum the floor, prepare food, tidy up the day and arrange the memories. Unlike erecting a wall and building a house, it is work that is meaningless in the past tense; it demands tomorrow and keeps repeating: cut, clean, rinse, sweep, scrub, dry, rub, wash, hang, brush, flush, tidy, repair, mend, comfort, care, kiss, dream, seduce, and provide comfort, love, and stability.
“I’m happy,” says Uno while strolling the streets. And I am happy too.
My dad visits us in Athens, and with Uno, we walk on the Philopappos Hill that rises from our backyard and overlooks the Acropolis. By coincidence, we enter the Pnyx, the birthplace of democracy and the inspiration for the name of a student magazine my dad’s brother worked on. My dad is from Lemvig, a small harbor town in Jutland, where thoughts are expressed in similar words as the ocean’s grief, so I rarely hear stories of his dead brother, mother, and father. Or maybe I forget to ask and listen.
“Haps, haps, haps,” is the sound Uno makes chasing the doves on the polished marble pavement that gets slippery after the rain. It also happens to be the beginning of a Danish drinking song. One morning, when Uno takes a break from jumping in puddles to chase a large group of doves, one of the birds hits a flag pole on its escape and falls dead to the ground in front of a group of scouts. The kids reacted in multitudes: some laughed, others cried, and Uno didn’t notice. This is not a rehearsal: it is Uno’s childhood and our life.
An atmosphere of mimosa in bloom
On our street, Ana pauses to appreciate a mimosa in late bloom. In some countries, mimosa is gifted on Mother’s Day, and a common name for the plant is the sensitive flower because it so quickly loses its seductive fragile flowers and strong persistent fragrance. It is an atmosphere for the inner life with Ana: her gentle strokes, abundant generosity, and devotion to preserving the beauty of life in motion.
I’m alone. Like when I roamed the familiar bike lanes and forest paths as a child. It is a deliberate decision to be on my own. I need solitude: the freedom from being understood and the opportunity to persuade no one but myself. Ana makes the hard work look easy. It is impossible to be told what my dreams should be, and I am still mounting the strength to voice my vocation and give my dream back to life.
I do not desire to restore the past, stay in opposition or manufacture an illusion. I want an entirely new composition, a world of my own, made from within the world of everyone and everything I love. I don’t need anything, nor do I need to go anywhere. What I need is here, in this soil, I realize I walked into a photograph, and poetry is growing poetry. I’m the gardener, son, father, lover, the shape of the beach, and the person writing to you, about to be birthed but already felt.
Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly — Observations from the Internet Wilderness.