An Unraveling



My uncle – who has a lovely sense of irony about many things – asked me yesterday how a new project was going, to which I replied, “I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Well I text it. And obviously those luminous words belong to Mr Hemingway and not Miss Jacobs.

The description of the intricacies of a moment in time are as ambiguous as the shades of a walnut don’t you think? Can you describe an unraveling to someone on the other side of the world? Can you measure the color of change? My German friend Nina’s favorite word is entfalten which translates as ‘to unfold, to open or spread out.’ I think that’s the essence of Hemingway’s directive and it’s never felt so poignant to me personally or professionally. Chaos theory teaches that seemingly insignificant initial circumstances can effect global, even universal events. As the theory has it: a butterfly flaps its wings in one country and helps to cause a tornado in another.

The same applies in our lives. On my travels, I’ve discovered emotions I recognised that I didn’t even know had names, such as Amae, which in Japan describes the feeling you get from surrendering to another in perfect safety; and others I didn’t even know existed, such as Acedia, a short-lived listless despair brought to the fourth-century desert monks by noonday demons. I offer this collection of emotions as a gesture against those arguments that try to reduce the beautiful complexity of our inner lives into just a handful of cardinal feelings. Because one thing I’ve learned is that we don’t need fewer words for our feelings. We need more.

Hemingway also said, “As a writer you should not judge. You should understand,” and just like the world around me, I want to  invest in wonder, weave rainbows and never eclipse slack-jawed splendor with anything other than utter marvel.



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