Awkward

Beautiful but damaged.

Beautiful but damaged. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Beautiful but damaged. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I had a bad dream last night.

A house that was haunted, but beautiful, but damaged.

We wanted to live in it.

Reimagine it.

Reinvent.

Restore it.

I felt frightened that the house was too damaged to regenerate.

But moved into it anyway.

When I woke up, I could feel the house was me.

That the haunted, damaged past was part of the beauty.

I could see that ghosts of events that happened through me are not me.

A kind piano to play,

in the corner,

sings the darkness away.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,345

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The dread worm.

The dread worm. Drawing Luke Hockley.

The dread worm. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I am holding in my left hand, which is thrust deeply into my left pocket, a sense of something. Weighty and foreboding.

I find that I can, occasionally, open my palm and take my hand out of my pocket and do what needs to be done. But this sense of heaviness remains stagnant in my pocket, nonetheless.

Randomly, more often, I take my hand out of my pocket and look at it. I sense the gross, dull life form squirming inside my clutched fingers. But I don’t seem to be able to will myself to unfurl my fingers and look at it directly.

Not yet.

Generally, it appears about 24 hours before I am able to look at it.

And so, for a day or so, I live with it.

For about a day, or a bit longer, or a bit shorter depending on the circumstances.

Uncomfortable and awkward and uncertain and icky.

When the time has passed, I take my hand from my pocket and stare for a moment at my fingers and then, like a dive into cold water, open them and place the thing on the table in front of me.

A grey, fleshy, smooth skinned worm squirms upon the table.

I can still feel the dread that it emanates seep into my now empty palm, into my pocket, through my bowels and up into my chest and back of throat.

It’s the dread worm.

And I don’t like it.

It wriggles benignly on the table and I look at. Eventually I do what I know needs to be done and I reach out and touch it.

In what is always a surprise, which means it should never be one, I’m taken aback by its response.

This time the surface where I touched it changes from its morbid grey into a late day sunlight orange.

As I continue to touch and get to know it a little better it starts to morph and change shape. It becomes playful. Joyful.

This transformation is rapid.

And accelerates, almost without me noticing.

Soon it has transfigured itself into an entirely different animal.

A new one every time.

In this process there are awkward moments, painful ones even, but also funny and light hearted and inspiring ones.

And soon enough it has run off and become a thing in the world that has little to do with me anymore.

Mostly it’s a good experience, mostly.

And then I wonder, as I watch it run away, I wonder…why don’t I remember this feeling of lightness and relief when the worm first appears clutched inside my hand thrust into my pocket?

How come I can only feel the dread at that moment?

What I would like is to be able to feel the dread worm appear and know, inside my bones, that this too will turn out ok, even if some bits of the experience are less than ideal, in the end I’ll probably have a reasonably good time.

That.

Next time.

I’ll work on that.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,332

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I lack perfection.

I lack perfection. Drawing Luke Hockley.

I lack perfection. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I lack perfection.

I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to me.

Over and over again.

I’ve always lacked perfection.

It’s never been any different.

Would I even like how perfection felt if I did, miraculously, achieve it?

I don’t think I am actually in pursuit of ‘perfection’.

I hand sew things because I love the imperfection of it…but I do try and sew as perfectly as I can…whilst choosing contrasting fabrics and cotton that highlight any imperfections that exist.

Hmmm.

It’s imperfections in my personality that I find the hardest to manage.

I appreciate how my hand sewn imperfections can be endearing…but my quirks of personality?

I find those much harder to highlight and embrace.

Could I, possibly, highlight and embrace all the things that make me imperfect?

It sounds good in theory, but the reality…

I wonder.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,301

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Frightened of buttonholes.

Frightened of buttonholes. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Frightened of buttonholes. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I’m frightened of doing the buttonholes on the shirt I am making.

They are kind of irreversible.

Once the fabric is cut (which you do as you start making them) then there is no going back.

It feels like I could really stuff this up.

What if I get it wrong and all the hours of sewing this shirt are for nothing?

Ah, that’s interesting.

I’m worried about the outcome…which is the opposite of how I approach making a shirt.

When I make a shirt I’m most interested in the process. I encourage myself to let go of the time it takes me to do make it and how the shirt will look in the end…and just do this step, now.

I find making shirts such an interesting metaphor for my life. I avoid getting things wrong, which means I find finishing things I really care about can be difficult. It’s ok to get things wrong.

Ok, it’s time to make the buttonholes. 

If they don’t work, they don’t work.

At least I will be moving forwards.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,281

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Not on my feet.

Not on my feet. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Not on my feet. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I am not on my feet.

I feel all disoriented, discombobulated.

I don’t understand how all the bits fit together.

I don’t get how to make sense of it all.

I just don’t get it.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,275

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Nebulous and sharp.

Nebulous and sharp. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Nebulous and sharp. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

Life is fleeting.

The edges and shape of it are blurry and ill defined.

It is painful and joyful.

All at once.

Generous and selfish.

At the same time.

A moment crystallises and then evaporates.

Nebulous and sharp.

What next, then.

What next?

Love

Luke

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Day 1,260

Show your support for Dear Self by becoming a monthly supporter of my work or by buying some stamp money. Your support means I can keep doing the things I do to make the world a better place.

I can’t believe I’m back here.

I can’t believe I’m back here. Drawing Luke Hockley.

I can’t believe I’m back here. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I’m concerned that I have started repeating the same letters to you.

I sit down to write and when I think of what I’d like to write I often think…

“Oh, that again…I can’t believe I’m back here.”

It’s one of the more disconcerting things about this daily project.

There’s nowhere for me to hide from myself.

Here I am. Every day. Checking in.

I see patterns in myself much more clearly than I might have.

But also, sometimes I’m still lost in those patterns and can’t see any rhyme or reason to them.

I know they are repeating. I know I am back at some familiar and uncomfortable place…but don’t know exactly how I got here and what might help me get out of here.

I guess I have some more clues. I have a broader sense of what is going on. It has been about 3 years now of daily writing and it just surprises me that I am still repeating the same things with only a little bit of extra insight.

Shouldn’t I have myself all figured out by now?

Ha!

When I see that written down I get how that sounds.

Being a human is a complex, long term project.

That’s it.

That’s just how it is.

Strangely I find some comfort in that.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,225

Show your support for Dear Self by becoming a monthly supporter of my work or by buying some stamp money. Your support means I can keep doing the things I do to make the world a better place.

Don’t throw the buttonhole out.

Don’t throw the buttonhole out. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Don’t throw the buttonhole out. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I’m learning how to sew a buttonhole.

Or, rather, I’m learning a new way to sew a buttonhole.

Originally, I kind of made it up…I did a hand version of what I had seen a sewing machine do.

It was ok…but clumsy, or I thought there must be a better way or something like that. So, I found some instructions in a needle craft book of Mum’s on how to sew a button hole.

So far it is incredibly clumsy, and I don’t like it at all.

But I think I need to persist a bit longer.

I feel like a bit of repetition will help me see if I don’t like it because I’m not familiar and skilled enough or because it is actually awkward.

Let’s not throw the buttonhole out before it’s had a chance.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,219

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I want to, but…

I want to but… Drawing Luke Hockley.

I want to but… Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I want to, but it is too close.

It is just there.

Just a simple reach, and I have bridged the space between us.

I want to, but the risk seems too great.

I want to, but I am ridiculous and wild and strange.

Hurt and uncertain.

Weird. Wounded.

And you will see that.

I want to, but I don’t know if I’m ok with seeing you seeing me like that.

I want you to ask how I am doing,

So, I can tell you.

Mostly – I’m ok, but today…

Today, I’m not really that ok…

That’s what I want.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,213

Show your support for Dear Self by becoming a monthly supporter of my work or by buying some stamp money. Your support means I can keep doing the things I do to make the world a better place.

The kissing cam is over.

The kissing cam is over. Drawing Luke Hockley.

The kissing cam is over. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

Last night I went to the football.

Sure, take a moment to take that in.

This is not the kind of thing I do very often. My family has an annual pilgrimage to a particular match between two particular teams that represent a long-standing rivalry between my Dad and one of my Sisters.

I go because, well I can, and it's a whole world I never really visit. It is a spectacular, a theatre experience really.

At quarter time the people stop running around chasing the ball and 80,000 people go to the toilet or buy another drink or sit and check social media while the players chat about what happened and what they want to happen next.

To entertain those who are lost in the internet they do this thing they call the “kissing cam”. They go around the audience and pick a man and a woman (always a man and a woman) and they pressure them to kiss each other.

I was shocked.

I couldn't believe that this is really a thing. That this is still a thing. I can see how light it is meant to be. How people look at it and get a laugh. And mostly it is just people who are married or dating or have been together for a long time having a laugh and kissing on screen for an audience of thousands.

But there is this other edge that I found disturbing.

If there was reluctance from the two people on the screen, then the camera would linger on them and the man on the voice over would apply some pressure.

There was one particular man and woman who were extremely uninterested in kissing. I’m pretty sure they were not at the game together and had never met. So, maybe a producer has made a mistake and picked a couple who weren’t a couple…it’s what happened next that I found unacceptable. They lingered on them and said…

“We can’t start the next quarter until we get a kiss…”

The woman sat there stony faced (which I read as a silent plea to be left alone) and the man pointed off camera to his left at his unseen partner to indicate he was happy to give a kiss in that direction (one that would be, we assumed, consensual). Finally, the producer picked another two victims and the awkwardness abated, momentarily…because they kept coming back! Two more times they visited these two strangers and pressured them to kiss. At this point I realised this was all part of the script the producer was running. Find the reluctant pair and pressure them over time, create the tension and finally get a win when at least one of them gives in.

On the third visit to them (at which point the producer could easily have selected the man and his actual partner to get the kiss they felt they needed) the man reluctantly invaded the woman’s personal space and kissed her on the cheek without her consent.

I know some people would think this isn’t really worth thinking about.

That nothing happened, just a harmless joke on a couple of strangers at the football.

I think that view downplays the incredible power that ‘football’ has as an author of our culture. What was this ‘story’ saying to the men and boys in that stadium?

To me it was saying real men do the thing everyone is pressuring them to do, real men get the girl, that its ok to keep pushing until you get the thing you want (or that you are being told you want) even if the woman seems reticent or openly reluctant, that once you ‘get the girl’ the crowd will cheer and pat you on the back.

And what was it telling the women and girls in that stadium? I think it is telling them that if you say no to a man then you are wrecking things for everyone else, that you are letting the team down, that a man’s needs (or what he is being told he needs) are more important than yours and that everyone will appreciate you just giving in and letting him do the thing he wants (or thinks he wants) to do. I think it’s saying that your personal space, your body, isn’t really ‘yours’ its ‘ours’ and if we want you to ‘share it’ then who are you to say no?

I felt deeply for this man and this woman.

What was he thinking? I wished he’d had the courage to just look at the camera and shake his head or at least lean out of shot and kiss his actual partner. What did he want to happen? How did he feel about being placed in this position? Being asked to take something from someone he didn’t know?

I wondered what she was thinking. I felt offended on her behalf. Angry at this uninvited invasion of her life. I wondered what she really wanted to do? Did she want to give the camera the bird? Did she want to turn to him and say “kiss me and I’ll call the police”? Did she just want to walk away? Did she want to turn to the camera and shake her head?

I may have misread this whole situation. Maybe they were both totally into this ‘game’ that was thrust upon them…I don’t think so though.

Regardless, I think this kind of stunt sets up the culture that means men aren’t allowed to be kind and respectful in front of their mates and women aren’t allowed to be in charge of their own bodies.

The kissing cam is over.

It was never ok, but now it has run whatever course it had to run.

It’s time to stop this kind of rot.

Now.

Love

Luke

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Day 1,201

Show your support for Dear Self by becoming a monthly supporter of my work or by buying some stamp money. Your support means I can keep doing the things I do to make the world a better place.