There is always what will turn out to be the life we led, and the life that accompanied it, the parallel life (or lives) that never actually happened, that we lived in our minds, the wished-for life (or lives): the risks untaken and the opportunities avoided or unprovided. We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason–and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find and give the reason–they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live. But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are. As we know more now than ever before about the kids of lives it is possible to live–and affluence has allowed more people than ever before to think of their lives in terms of choices and options–we are always haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do. So when we are not thinking, like the characters in Randall Jarrell’s poem, that “The ways we miss our lives is life,” we are grieving or regretting or resenting our failure to be ourselves as we imagine we could be. We share our lives with the people we have failed to be.
We discover these unlived lives most obviously in our envy of other people, and in the conscious (and unconscious) demands we make on our children to become something that was beyond us. And, of course, in our daily frustrations. Our lives become an elegy to needs unmet and desires sacrificed, to possibilities refused, to roads not taken. The myth of our potential can make of our lives a perpetual falling-short, a continual and continuing loss, a sustained and sometimes sustaining rage; though at its best it lures us into the future, but without letting us wonder why such lures are required (we become promising through the promises made to us). The myth of potential makes mourning and complaining feel like the realest things we ever do; and makes of our frustration a secret life of grudges. Even if we set aside the inevitable questions–How would we know if we had realized our potential? Where did we get our picture of this potential from? If we don’t have potential what do we have?–we can’t imagine our lives without the unlived lives they contain. We have an abiding sense, however obscure and obscured, that the lives we do lead are informed by the lives that escape us. That our lives are defined by loss, but loss of what might have been; loss, that is, of things never experienced. Once the next life–the better life, the fuller life–has to be in this one, we have a considerable task on our hands. Now someone is asking us not only to survive but to flourish, not simply or solely to be good but to make the most of our lives. It is a quite different kind of demand. The story of our lives becomes the story of the lives we were prevented from living."
Adam Phillips, Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life
spiraling succulent | san francisco, ca | october 2013
portrait of rene solomon | san francisco, ca | october 2013
portrait of talia taylor | oakland, ca | october 2013
looking you over and you don’t know my name yet
but by the time you looked away, already knew I couldn’t fake it
I got this need for you, forming in my beating heart
I knew the meaning right away, we only yesterday were worlds apart
I think I may love you
If you give me some time
maybe you’ll love me too
I got this thing for you
if you come closer I can whisper in your ear
and if you wanna walk away
I’ll tell you all the things I know you wanna hear
I’ll come closer to you
if you come over
I know we’ll go farther
farther with you
with you i’m in warm water swimming down
Laura Mvula and King perform live in San Francisco; live photos by Ashleigh Reddy and recap
I wrote up a little something on the recent Laura Mvula x KING show at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco to compliment Ashleigh Reddy's lovely captures for Okayplayer. Be sure to check out these stunning & talented artists when they tour your city!
do your asian stripper girlfriends ever get kidnapped by rival mafia members when they’re left alone at the crib while you’re out at the club getting a champagne toast by a secret snitch pretending to be your boy so you guys have to head back to the mansion to get strapped with ammunition to annihilate the enemy (whose motive remains elusive) at an undisclosed warehouse location so that you can rescue her only to wrap her bare ass in a tiny blanket?
I didn’t think so.
Kaytranada is long last coming to THE BAY for a FREE halloween party! I better see everyone I love there ready to leave it all on the dance floor. As we all know, 1015 folsom attracts the worst zombie drughead teenagers so we need to roll deep and show the babies how to have a good time. RSVP now and spread the word to fellow music lovers <3.
this will dramatically improve your week. press play & let the beat in.
Explores the life, works and beliefs of the late writer and civil rights activist.
“when someone finds themselves digging through the remains, somewhere in that wreckage, they will find me.”
I found James Baldwin in history’s wreckage and it changed my life forever. I am weary of worshipping any man for the distance reverence requires is dehumanizing. For it is Jimmy’s humanity that persists — it is his light that blasts through the darkness.
In watching this video, I am reminded of the task of he left with us.
“It is, alas, the truth that to be an American writer today means mounting an unending attack on all that Americans believe themselves to hold sacred. It means fighting an astute and agile guerrilla warfare with that American complacency which so inadequately masks the American panic.”
In particularly difficult times, I often turn to history for guidance (not to be confused with ‘answers’). I am reminded of an urgency that is all too easy to forget. It’s like having a conversation with an old friend who shakes you back into your body, who gives you a long hug and sends you back into the world with a renewed sense of purpose. It is a gift to feel loved by someone you never knew. Above everything, this video reminded me how to forge a joyful and meaningful life. How to strike a balance between working and seeking, how to tap the source of things (unapologetically), to pay attention, to laugh and dare to love in the face of ignorance. There is work to be done and poems to be left in the rubble for the next generation of lonely artists searching for a sign amidst the ash.