On this past Christmas Day NASA launched the James Webb Space Telescope. This replacement and a massive upgrade in terms of capabilities to the Hubble Space Telescope will allow scientists across the planet to see further than has ever before. It is hoped that it will reveal habitable exoplanets and insight into the oldest and most distant phenomena in the universe. This week it went online, after a period in which many of us were reflecting on our own past selves as the new year approached. Tonight, a million miles away from the Earth in orbit around the sun, it begins to search the incomprehensible vastness of time as we look ahead at a future that is equally unknowable.
I enjoy the concept of rebirth, of resolving to do and be more than I have been in the past. The past two years have been some of the hardest in my life as they have been for most who’ve been forced to sew their seams of being back together and reconsider what comes next. But I am focused on action, not words. After two years down I have reached a point where I have to either do what I am meant to do seriously or give up to avoid time wasted on dreams of doing. I haven’t written any resolutions. But I have started to make each day a link in a chain.
Last year I rucked, rain or snow, for miles every day in January. It was training to do what I didn’t want to do for which there was no reward or recognition. Spirit training. This month I am doing the CrossFit calisthenics workout Cindy each morning for the same reason. This is the year of the Tiger; a year we all need to grow stronger.
I am also spending less aimless time online. I want to be present and intentional with my time rather than using diversions as an escape from living. Carl Jung in The Undiscovered Self writes about our obsessive distraction with “objects outside ourselves,” which subvert our striving toward our true and inherent callings. None of this is new, but what is most present is most often overlooked, taken for granted, or passed by for the fresh and novel. If Howl was written today Ginsberg might have observed that the best minds of his generation were driven to madness by subtweets and friend counts. We are living through two pandemics. The first is viral. The second, as Jung predicted, is a psychic epidemic wherein mental illness is the norm. Today it’s common for a casual acquaintance to mention their mental diagnosis as casually as the town where they grew up, and with the same matter-of-fact resolution that it can’t be changed. Evolution is always an option as is staring at a cell phone for another sleepless hour.
Anything digital can and will be erased; lost to time. Only the analog, the tangible, has a chance of remaining into the future, if in pieces: tattered scrolls sealed in clay pots, eroded carvings on stone pillars, newsprint entombed in landfills. I write in journals and lose myself in the woods. I want a love affair with reality and the present moment, what is ultimately true.
In The Oracle of the Night: The History and Science of Dreams Sidharta Ribeiro states that we cannot dream without memories which is why we so often dream of ourselves repeating the routines of our life. If this is true then the Shakespearean passage from Act 4 of The Tempest stating “We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” suggests that we are our memories; personal catalogs of moments savored or mourned. Therefore as we make our memories we make ourselves.
In this new year may we all tear the suns we’ve swallowed out of our chests and burn bright as William Blake’s tyger in the forests of the night. Each morning is colder than the last now, but every day is longer.
Pre-order my book:
My new novel Dream Kids will be released in March of this year. I am immensely proud of it and would be humbled if you pre-ordered your copy here. Pre-orders are incredibly important as they in part determine what books are stocked by booksellers. If you follow me on social media you’ve seen the first promotional video for the book. I have a lot more to share in the coming months.
If you want to smile watch what happens when two motorcycle enthusiasts decide to meticulously recreate the dumbest road trip imaginable involving a mini-bike here
Listen to this:
Dream Kids is a punk rock coming-of-age novel that name drops dozens of late 70s and early 80s punk tracks. I will be putting the full novel soundtrack up as a playlist on Spotify in the future. Until then enjoy this song that appears in the book.