Art by Ana Flores
A single paragraph to sum up 2017.
Tablecloths, towels, sheets line the walls. They cover every mirror and reflective surface. Your hand itches — for what? Do you miss seeing yourself? It won’t take much to tear all those obstacles down. What will you do when you see what has been hidden from you? You are the only person that can do this. When was the last time you felt the strength to hold yourself up?
A box sits by your door when you get home. When you open it, you find rolls and rolls of wallpaper inside. The instructions tell you that the best way to make the wallpaper last is if it dries in the dark. You cover all your windows with anything you can find; foil, newspaper, bedsheets. In the dark you put it all up, exactly the way you want it. No one else knows why your house is shut off from the world, but that doesn’t matter. You’re the only one that needs to know.
You stand in a house of mirrors. In the corner of the room there’s a sign that says “the door will only open to the true you”. You’re surrounded by yourself, but instead of distorted reflections, the mirrors show different versions of you. How are you supposed to choose? You take your time in front of each mirror, and you get to the same conclusion every time: “this is me”. You stand in the middle of the room. The only answer you can give to the air around you is that all of these mirrors show the true you. A trapdoor opens beneath you.
Before you stands a giant. It’s not alive, and it never has been. Strings dangle from several places. Someone tells you that it’s you that’s supposed to operate this puppet. The strings are put in your hands. Are you up to the task to become the puppeteer? Your strings have been cut loose, and now it’s your turn. What will you do? If you’re not careful, this giant might overpower you, turning you back into a marionette. Don’t you dare forget that the strings are in your own hands.
The theatre bustles, the crowd is jittering with excitement. The room lights have not yet dimmed, the spotlight has not yet been lit. You sit behind the controls, ready to flick the switch when it’s queued. “When did you end up back here?” someone asks you. “You don’t need any spotlights, your own light can warm anyone’s heart.” Do you remember now when you weren’t too busy shining light on someone else, that you could actually shine yourself?
The mailman came by, your mailbox is overflowing with postcards and Christmas cards. You drop the stack on your kitchen counter, promising yourself you’ll get back to it as soon as possible. You stop yourself mid-promise. “Not today,” you say. You’ve had this nagging feeling for a while now, and you refuse to let yourself linger, procrastinate. You stand by your kitchen counter, reading every best wish, every happy new year, making notes of who to thank for what.
On a dark cold winter morning, you decide it’s time for change. You push your desk across the room, you move your closet a little bit to the right, you air out your curtains. You’re ready to move your bed, but first, you’ve got to pull out everything from under it. Amongst a few forgotten things, a suitcase, and your old tent, you find a box you can’t remember ever putting there. The box holds everything you didn’t even know you were longing for. Take your time to savour it. It’s all yours now, and you can choose what to do with it all.
A box of old photos. This is your current self-appointed task. You’ve bought the right type of tape and a blank photo album. Before you start taping and writing down dates, you need to get the photos in order. You go through each and every picture, trying to decipher when and where it was taken. Can you remember it all? Every moment captured has lead to this present moment. What does this mean for you? What does this mean to you?
You can barely see the sky above you. You are surrounded by tall bushes, but only on three sides. You’re in a maze. You don’t know where you’ll end up but you know that you have to go. You take turn after turn, always seemingly a correct one, since you haven’t had to turn back once. But just as you think that, you encounter a dead end. You curse and mutter, angry at having to turn back. Before you do, you hear loud steps. The earth beneath you shakes, the bushes that block your path quiver at the sound of growls. You remain hidden and the noise subsides as the beast moves on.
In your hands you hold a card. It’s like one of those that is found in old school library books, with the names of the people who checked it out. But this is not from a library book. The title at the top says KARMA. It’s a list of the good that you will do and the bad you will receive. Knowing this, what will you do? Is it time to pay back your debts? Or will you choose to do the opposite of what you receive?
You’ve spent hours and hours, days after days, for months, trying to find the right table. You’ve gone to Ikea, to antique stores, to garage sales. And yet you’ve found nothing. Your search continues, your heart becomes frustrated, but you keep yourself optimistic. Your friends begin to question you, your mother begins to worry. You tell them there is nothing wrong with trying to find a perfect table. After all, a house of cards can only stand on a good foundation.
You find yourself trying to read your old journals, but they seem to be in a language you no longer remember. You can now try to painstakingly decipher the language, spending hours and hours trying to remember the way you felt and what you thought in the past. But remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. And perhaps, after all this time, is it even worth relearning that language of the past?