Today might have been the okayest day—back off, I'm coining that term, it's mine—I've had in a while. I stopped trying to make sense of it all—whatever "it all" even means. My aspirations, post-virus, are fairly humble—not even survival, really, but more like treading water.
I know how to swim. Swimming is just pushing water behind yourself as you go from Point A to Point B. Treading water is just staying in the game—allowing yourself to breathe until it's time to use those breaths to Do Something.
Here we are in month five of work-from-home. Treading water. Staying in the game.
I swear to you that there was a Point to all this when I got started. Let's lean into it. The title is an aphorism.
Jenny Holzer created a series of ~300 aphorisms called Truisms from ~1977 to ~1979. They are short. Aphorisms are short. They're like a splash of water in your mouth when you're thirsty, or like a bit of chili pepper to your eye when you're cooking, or like a grain of sand lodged between two chunks of pavement in the sidewalk that you're walking on and never see. Yes. Ow. Nothing.
I don't have much to say about the provenance of the aphorisms. Here's Wikipedia. Here's the Museum of Modern Art.
Although the majority of them passed by me without leaving a trace, some of them have stuck around. I was afraid—afraid is maybe not the right word, perhaps apprehensive—that the most dire and depressing aphorisms would be the ones that stuck to me. That's partially true—I like a little dourness in my life—get off my lawn, etc. But the ones that really strike me (here is what purports to be a whole list) are the ones that redirect something that you take to be a given and bend it into something else.
FAKE OR REAL INDIFFERENCE IS A POWERFUL PERSONAL WEAPON
IGNORING ENEMIES IS THE BEST WAY TO FIGHT
MUCH WAS DECIDED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN
RAISE BOYS AND GIRLS THE SAME WAY
SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT IS ANTISOCIAL
THINKING TOO MUCH CAN ONLY CAUSE PROBLEMS
And so on. There are 300 or so of them. Some of them are forgettable. Some of them are bad. Some of them are the unexpected slap across the face followed by the slackjawed stare followed by the oh-I-guess-that-makes-sense-how-did-I-miss-that epiphany. I want to capture them somewhere here, run them LED style from right-to-left as they were in their original artwork setting. I like aphorisms—as long as they're not taken too seriously. A quick jolt is sometimes good as a reminder to reassess yourself. A quick jolt all the time could turn you into some sort of self-improvement quack. Aim for balance, whatever that might mean.