I'm surprised by your age but you should not be surprised by mine.
Love Letter Day 8.
I made a friend. Someone whose work I’d admired via the internet, who during a busy visit to Philly, was able to sneak out for lunch at my invitation, to meet and discuss possible curatorial work here. We had a blast talking about a bunch of other things. I’m sure you know the experience. How fortuitous then, that as my next meeting closed in on us and it became time to call for the bill, I realized I’d forgotten (or worse: possibly lost) my wallet. I felt a pit of embarrassment. I frequently forget important things, but rarely in professional contexts.
So. Fun fact: you have to become the absolute best of friends with whomever you invite, when you forget your entire ass wallet. I don’t make the rules. There’s no other way to get out of that kind of dumb bitch move.
The new friend is young. That is, younger than me. Young enough that we’re in distinct generational categories. I wish it didn’t matter, but somehow this fact bothered me even more when I was forced to allow him to pay for lunch (*cough* I’m Asian *cough*). His age surprises me. I’d thought he was much older based on the quality of information and sheer volume of work he had produced—artifacts of opportunity; a notion that I might become educated. The joke is on me because olds have always learned more from youngs. *wheat emoji*
I marvel at his candor and frank and effusive reverence, and that’s how I decide we’re truly different ages. That’s not a demerit for the young. There’s nothing awesome about the avoidance old people have indoctrinated into their practices of executive affection. I believe lately and finally that it is a gift to be willing to be inside named feelings. I’m gonna keep showering you with praise. I think I can keep apace, though it feels like dancing with bad knees and no drugs.
Perhaps I give age too much credit, though. I’m so glad you exist. Who talks like that? Not even toddlers. Not even middle aged peers. I ask a couple different ways: are you right in the head? The answer is no. Isn’t it great?
I can always say cut it out, but I am Vince McMahon—unafraid of failure, grapefruit sized balls, but most importantly and to the rest of the world who has turned my greatest trait into a meme: I am flagrant about how surprised I can be.
I spoke with a somatic therapist about work not long after meeting my new friend. We talked about opportunity and I quickly rationalized why anyone would think highly of me. She told me to slow down, and stop talking. She told me to let the energy of praise enter my body and to tell her how it felt. I sobbed. I sobbed for twenty minutes. I actually hated it. But then I told her I felt pleasure; making out energy. Her eyes lit up. Remember to allow yourself to feel pleasure in your work. We agree being loved is a great idiom of cosmic force. She is the one who shared the passage from Let Them All Talk.
Bring it on, Anne. I will.
Growing up, I was told telling the truth would end the world and having feelings would kill you. I thank the young and not Hegel for reminding me that the world is already ending and I am already dying. I am ready to answer to your cosmic yen.
Post-script: if the idea of reverence or talent put a knit in your brow, read Yanyi’s beautiful letter in his The Reading substack: “What If I’m Just Missing…Talent.”