A Clean Slate
Letter #34: The importance of cleansing the past and starting anew.
Peace, ya’ll. I hope everyone is thriving and surviving. Missed you all. Sending love, and thanks.
I’m back to writing, thankfully. The newsletter is free now, and forever, no charge. It just feels right. I’m here to interact and exchange ideas, not make money. Learned a lot the past few months and have some things to say, so enjoy and please feel free to tap in. Here it goes —
As people, we go through a lot. We live lives of intrigue, drama, and general amazement that varies in degrees. Someone might think that they live an humble, simple, maybe even uneventful life, while another may think of their life as remarkable, incredible, or equally trying and difficult, yet despite how they perceive it to be, this life we live is inherently extraordinary. Looking back at the hardships we’ve overcome, the things we’ve accomplished, the realization that the simple times in our lives are commonly the greatest — there is so much to pick apart and analyze in the duration of one’s existence that by no means could we ever become bored of the exploration of being present, here, breathing, heart-beating.
Many people live a number of different lives within their lifetime. I myself being one of those people. I feel like I’ve lived 5 different lives already and that I will only keep tallying that list as I go on, god willing. The lives that we live, also, we find may (or may not consciously) inform decisions and paths we end up taking. Sometimes we are aware and conscious of our experiences and utilize them to take better steps in the future, while other times we shut ourselves off from the realities of our past with the hopes of avoiding them. But either way, they inform the outcomes of our lives whether it is conscious or not.
The English word, “Human”, translates to "إنسان”, pronounced “Insaan”. The root word of Insaan being, “Nisyan” which translates to “to forget”. As people we are forgetful. If we think back 5 years ago, maybe even 1 year ago, there is no way to recall everything we experienced, day by day. Yet, despite this, we hold onto certain experiences and memories, memorable events, happy moments, traumatic happenings, times when we felt at ease, or discovered a brand new sensation. The majority of the time, at least in terms of what I have found, personally, is that we do not get to pick and choose what it is that we recall. We are so naturally forgetful, but when there is something that we want to forget, it is virtually impossible.
Just yesterday, for example, I was on the phone with my friend, P, and we were discussing certain things that had went wrong in our lives at any given point whether it had been career related or relationship related, and I mentioned how nice it’d be to be able to remove certain memories from recollection. If only that clinic from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind existed, or if we had one of those “neuralyzers” from Men in Black, I would have been used that thing! We’d be able to wipe away all the traumas, detrimental modes of thinking, restart or remove soured relationships, hurtful times, and oddly enough, even the great things that happened in one’s life as well.
I was inspired to write this letter for that reason in fact. Not because of the bad that has happened in my life — surprisingly not. But rather, because of the overwhelmingly good things that established a standard of expectation and enjoyment that I now struggle to live up to and match. And a lot of that comes from my being restrictive in terms of what I indulge in and what I approach. My friends who knew me growing up, I’m sure can attest, that I have gotten a bit boring and less exploratory since I became more religious, but on the other end, I have gotten a lot more happy with myself, grew far from depression, and have a greater grip on my life. But with the understanding that I’ve changed so much, comes a need for cleansing, for washing away the past and accepting that I am at a new chapter of my life that requires just as much enthusiasm and exploration. The exploration does not stop just because you found something that works, you are then to treat it as if it is something that is brand new, otherwise you grow content to a point of stagnation.
When it comes to my identity as a writer and artist especially, I am only now learning the imperative nature of not dwelling on ones finished works and experience. Even if it be my writing and sending out this newsletter, it does me more harm than good to revisit it and read it over again, for the sensation of accomplishment and comfort that it brings about.
I should address while we’re on the topic, that I did not address my hiatus from writing these letters for a reason. That’s right, I just wasn’t writing, its not that you weren’t receiving them — I just stopped. My reason for that being, not a good one. Partly, it was due to the fact that I’d put in so much work already into these letters, and decided that because I was dealing with a lot of real life stuff at the time, going through a lot of changes that were consuming my time and energy, that it felt justifiable for me to walk away from what was in many ways an obligation to both you all as well as myself, especially those of you who paid for a subscription.
(Before I go on, to those of you who did pay for a subscription, please know you haven’t been charged at all since I put a pause on the newsletter, but either way I hope you can forgive me and I hope to make it up to you someday for the support you have given me).
I’ve spent a lot of time by myself the past few months. I’ve been in odd situations, have been living a very transient lifestyle, all over the place, not really sure where I was going or what was going on, I just knew I was uncomfortable and growing and experiencing harsh changes that needed to take place. My being alone, has mostly been unwillingly, but its provided me lots of insight into my person, showed me how I treat myself, how I perceive myself, and how I can become a person that I am proud of, because truth be told, I haven’t been proud of who I am for a while, but now understand that the basis for that is no longer relevant, and has not been for a long time.
In order to get to that point, it largely begins with me stopping to make promises of the future, and looking back into the past in remembrance of what I have already done or experienced. Be it a project I put out, relationship I had been in, a person I was there for, or a time someone did me wrong. All of that is irrelevant, for its not our job to keep score, thats for God only. Our only job is to keep propelling forward. Everything in the past has already happened, and in between that time, both myself and everyone around me has changed because of it. Those paintings I made years ago are either housed, stored, or are no longer being shown, so I should go make some new ones, the person I was at that time of my life no longer exists so why do I still feel ashamed about him, that relationship I cherished has lost its spark so what good is it thinking about how much of a light it was for me then?
This is what I mean by a clean slate.
I must approach every minute aspect of my existence as if it is a brand new entity. Every day, as cliche as it is, truly is a new opportunity for betterment and learning. We are not set in stone until the day that we die. Death is the ultimate deadline. Every idea is just as valuable and deserving of attention as any previous one, every new life chapter is deserving of my full attention and rigor as the one before. As long as I am dwelling on what has passed it will continue to effect my future, by keeping me in a place of false security, but there is no guarantee that just because that happened in the past means it will happen again. And that is the ultimate trap, for when you think that your past experiences translate across every walk of life and everywhere you go, without acknowledging the variety of life and constant change of everything around us, that is when you fall off. And I don’t mean fall off life artists or actors do, I mean fall off the train of progression towards a generally fulfilling life.
I don’t know about y’all but if I stop progressing, I can feel it almost immediately. I may not comprehend it right away, but I know when something is off, and it is not a good feeling. I think that is what happened to me, honestly. I felt I wasn’t moving for a while, and needed to figure out why, and I believe that I now have, thankfully, though it’s a never ending battle, which is just fine. I’m okay with that. We kind of have to be, for that’s how we break free.
Films I’ve Watched Recently:
By Bruno Dumont
Not even going to lie. I enjoyed this a lot. France always gon be on some shit as they are in this (and that’s a double entendre cuz Lea Seydoux’s name in the film is France lol), but for what it is, I enjoyed it. Portrays a lot about the toxicity of tv news/show business, fake advocacy, international crises, neglectful parenting and familial discord, and other real world problems. The story felt very real, in fact, which is probably what I liked about it most, from a realist’s perspective. Anything as close as possible to the reality of the day to day I find incredibly entertaining, because that is what we relate to! And a lot of the time, what we relate to most is the most dramatic.
By Stanley Kubrick
By Jacques Demy
Ethan Hawke put me on. Loved it. Serendipity always adds fun to a story.
Recent Dictionary Entries:
Alvaro Siza - Álvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza Vieira GOSE GCIH GCIP is a Portuguese architect, and architectural educator. He is internationally known as Álvaro Siza and in Portugal as Siza Vieira.
P. T. Barnum (1810–1891), American showman and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding a circus.
Mimetic Architecture - Novelty architecture, also called programmatic architecture or mimetic architecture, is a type of architecture in which buildings and other structures are given unusual shapes for purposes such as advertising or to copy other famous buildings without any intention of being authentic.
Grandiloquent - pompous or extravagant in language, style, or manner, especially in a way that is intended to impress.
Technicolor - a process of color cinematography using synchronized monochrome films, each of a different color, to produce a movie in color.
Shiro Kuruamata - Kuramata studied architecture at the Tokyo Technical College before 1953 and was trained as a cabinet maker at the Kuwasawa Institute of Design in Tokyo in 1954, after which he worked for multiple companies such as the furniture producer Teikoku. In 1965, he established Kuramata Design Office in Tokyo and in 1981 received the Japanese Cultural Prize for design. From the mid‑1960s onwards, Kuramata began exploring materials and forms through his unique designs. His work merged popular culture, Japanese aesthetic concepts, and the Western avant‑garde.
“You want to be inside the room while building your own outside of it.” — Samuel Ross
That's all from me for this one. If you need me, I'm still here.
Until next time, insha’Allah.