Every New Year’s Eve in recent memory, Neil Gaiman writes his advice/wishes for the new year. Spoiler alert: I am not, in fact, Neil Gaiman. I’m not even British. We both do have unruly hair, though. But if I ever start drinking tea regularly instead of coffee, well…assume I’ve been kidnapped and am trying to signal you for help. Same goes for drinking decaf.
Where was I? Right. Neil’s advice. It’s sage stuff. Like all his writing leans toward, it’s perfectly phrased, deceptively simple, and sure to resonate somewhere deep within your heart. That fantastic bastard is pretty damn talented. (I don’t know him well enough to call him a fantastic bastard, but just go with it.)
In the same tradition of the Crazy Hair’d Gaiman, here are my wishes for you, for this coming new year.
- Be yourself as brilliantly as wildly as you can.
- Write the thing that scares you to the depths of your self-conscious heart. Make the art that you’re not quite sure you can, because the truth is – you won’t know until you try.
- Find someone and encourage them in their pursuits, because we are meant to lift others up, not keep them down.
- Let go of what doesn’t (sometimes, who doesn’t) light you up. Life is too short for tepid, okay, and painfully familiar.
- Go on adventures, even if it simply means taking a different route home from work.
- Don’t try and get something right the first go around. No one does that. Even da Vinci had first drafts. You can always fix what you’ve created, but not what’s still stuck in your head.
- Stop explaining your choices to anyone who does not support you.
- Read books outside of your comfort zone/genre. Read diversely.
- Don’t accept less than what you deserve. Compromise, but do not compromise yourself.
- Love as deeply and as honestly as you can. Whenever you can.
- Kiss, hug, and cuddle whenever you get the opportunity, because touch is a language that needs no translation. Kiss someone who thinks you’re magic and real, all in the same breath.
- Speak out and speak up – for yourself and in defense of others. We weren’t put on this earth to be cowards or to bow to anyone or anything that is unworthy of respect.
- Figure out what Carrie Fisher would do, ready your middle finger, and sharpen your tongue. Same goes for Bowie and Prince. Sparkle. Wear funky clothes. Don’t conform.
- At the end of the day, tomorrow is not promised. The next choice you make could turn your life into magic. So, open your heart and go shine your light into this world. It needs your light. And that’s the only way to chase out the dark, darlings: share the light.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― Neil Gaiman,
(After Sarah Kay’s “Postcards”)
I had already fallen in love with too much water, when you showed up out of nowhere, heart full of flood, mouth full of ocean. You kissed me, and that was it. I stopped looking for the shoreline, and I can’t tell you the last time I did that. I can float here for days or find my way to the bottom—both equally safe. Is there a word for arrival that feels like the word home? If there is, it is made of a bird’s wings, the smell of dirt in spring, the crisp smell of a fire burning on a cold night. If there is, I’ve seen it in your smile.
I keep waiting to take one breath too many, to let in what should be kept out, to be overwhelmed by it. But it doesn’t happen. I’ve started to forget what pain tastes like, the metallic aftertaste, the way grief always finds the bathroom floor, how nothing’s ever as clean as it should be. I stopped counting the awkward tick of my own heart. I used to think it was proof of life, but it’s only living if you are brave enough to share it. Here, look: I’ve got something in my hand. Sorry about the mess. I’m not one to be afraid of it. I know other people are. Still, look: red’s always been my color.
Is there a word for yes that feels like warm blankets, a deep kiss, the lingering of fingers on hipbones? There are a thousand rivers underneath my skin, and each of them are looking for you. There is purpose in the current, but I know it holds too many secrets. There’s always something living underneath the surface. Would you wade in anyway, not knowing what it is?
I don’t know what to call this. There’s no way to dam it. All I know is I love the undercurrent of your laugh, the way I can picture you in a room, even when you’re not here. Come, paint the ocean on my back. Say it’s a map. Say it’s a lighthouse. Say you can find me, even in the dark.
This is to say
I want to write you a lullaby
for the bruises
on your heart.
I want to remind you
that they’re proof
of the body’s defiance,
a mosaic of the night sky,
a thousand secrets.
I want to explain
that survival is like this:
a scald of coffee,
a glove left behind,
an unanswered kiss—
you learn to live
a tasteless life,
no salted skin
sweet only in its
the way want curls in,
learning to comfort itself.
you are more than
more than the sanctity of reflex,
more than someone’s
is not a habit
This is to say
that I have known impossible magic,
thrown open the windows,
by its first name,
with my hands—
this is to say,
to get what you want.
Give me imperfection—
the distance between hips,
the grief of your body,
the way want uncoils
like spring, endlessly
green, always reaching.
Hold your tongue
it is put to good use.
Unfold this map
with greedy fingers,
then, get lost.
Recite a spell
written on skin,
but use no words.
that no church would allow,
the catch of teeth on a promise,
all that is wild
and bone, a fogged window,
the greed of a too-full heart,
the click of a belt
beg the stars
from my bones
and I will give you