I like poetry – not just the words, but the poetry of circumstance, scenery, synchronicity, people
I like to make reference to William Carlos Williams poems, especially in my Instagram feed
I value gentleness and am on a quiet crusade to revolutionise the world thusly.
So you’ll not be surprised to learn that Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is my new favourite movie.
It’s a poem in itself structured with stanzas like days of the week, repetition that imbues deeper meaning with each encounter, a homage to the poetry of lives being lived without judgement or drama. There’s ambiguity, subtlety and I’m sure it would reward re-watching, just as there’s always more to be gleaned from re-visiting a good poem.
Paterson drives the bus in Paterson, New Jersey – the home of WCW and Allen Ginsberg. Lines of poetry pace through his head as he walks to work and he writes them in his notebook sitting at the wheel in the morning. It’s a quietly persistent art form that exists in his every day – the conversations he overhears, the familiar scenes of his home town – contrasted perhaps by his quirky and lovely Laura who expresses her artistry by staying home painting the curtains, the walls, decorating cupcakes and buying a “Harlequin” guitar to match her aesthetic. The bold black and white is hard to miss, but she’s just as gentle and poetic as Paterson and the sweetness of their relationship is one of the most heartening aspects of this film.
I totally believe poetry is the antidote to a high-conflict society, where everything makes us mad and nothing is ever good enough. The calm world of Paterson reminds us, but doesn’t indulge that we have been conditioned to expect drama and conflict in movies and in life; secrets being kept, relationships falling apart, tempers flaring (spoiler: the bus doesn’t burst into flames). Life doesn’t have to be like that. Instead we can simply do our jobs, be kind to each other, walk the dog and look at the world through a poet’s eyes. How lucky is that?
I’ve become a little obsessed with facebook’s “see your memories” thingy whereby you can see exactly how similar you were feeling about life on this day last year, the year before or even back in 2007. It’s horrifying to see firstly how quickly a year has gone by and secondly how much has or has not changed in that 12 months. Horrifying but also sometimes affirming.
Here’s something from 13 months ago:
Although I see no evidence of this actually happening, I’m still convinced it’s what the world needs. There are some stroppy, fiery, speak-before-they-think people running significant parts of this world and they’ll try and change us – make us feel that our ideas and decisions are less because we communicate them calmly; that our feelings and instincts are nothing compared to their grand plans and loud demands – but we won’t change.
Sadly, I think society still sees strength as anger over reasoning; volume, rather than integrity; busting things apart, rather than holding them together. But many of us are not impulsive or naturally angry people and our strength comes from the gentle, deliberate and well-considered way we approach things. We agonise over decisions because we know the impacts can be far-reaching and we take on many different points of view and consider them in own our time before forming strong opinions. We reflect on ourselves and make a point of being consistent and professional and never losing our shit in public. Other people might not always see that as strength, but as long as we’re acting in accordance to our values and taking our own feelings and beliefs seriously… well, frankly, other people can piss off.
About 5 years ago I was musing on this from a slightly different angle. https://saradhakoirala.com/2010/11/27/some-semi-formed-ideas-on-karma-and-physics/ I was thinking about how we can trust things to be okay for cosmic and scientific reasons and that there’s logic and necessity behind feeling all the feelings there are to be felt. The part I hadn’t realised at this point though was about trusting those feelings. That post five years ago ended with two questions I can now answer: You can and Yes. I realise now that we must trust our feelings. In fact our own feelings are often the only true and honest things we can know. It’s rare but refreshing to find other people who can also see this. More often than not people are invalidating our feelings, telling us to “cheer up”, “harden up” and to stop being “so dramatic.” People will react to our expressions of emotion with “it’s not that bad” or “it’s not that funny” (my most hated phrase to hear – I’ll laugh like a lunatic if I want to!) So rarely do people just let you feel what you’re feeling for a bit. Likewise, society has taught us that we can change people’s minds. Again this is invalidating especially for those of us who have carefully considered each decision we’ve ever made. In childhood we can quickly learn that “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “no” and that nagging, whiney, goading, pleading, bullying and persisting will get us what we want. Holding onto this belief into adulthood is dangerous and disrespectful and encountering it is a constant test of my resolve that strength is integrity and I shouldn’t have to raise my voice or cause a scene to be listened to.
My utopia is still a world run by calm and thoughtful people. People who listen to each other, trust their own instincts and make well-considered decisions based on feelings. If I continue to look back on my posts year after year, I want to still feel the same way and know that I’ve managed to stay true to these values. We shouldn’t have to change to fit into society’s expectations just to live the life we believe in because, let’s be honest, society’s way of operating actually hasn’t been working out that well for society.