the animal eats
the animal eats
Take the breath

Take the breath

The name of the game is to just keep breathing. Let's get a little unhinged and listen to a guided meditation, which isn't that at all.

I'm not trying to finish the year strong I'm trying to finish it alive. This feels like more than enough.

Being alive, at the end of 2021, is enough.

I started a business this year and business is booming. The business went boom. Oh god the business keeps coming. Someone tell the business to chill. Tell the business relax. It’s the end of the year, the business, just breathe. Tell the business, for the most part, urgency is fake. Math is made up. Time is a construct. Tell the business my babies need a break. Tell the business I'm working on boundaries. The business doesn't care? How do you know? Have you tried? No, but really. Have you? Oh you tried a boundary once and it didn't quite take? Are you sure you really even did that though? Did you say, clearly and confidently, I do not work Fridays because I can get more done in four days on good rest and good play than I can in five when I'm restless? Did you tell the business, the business I love you, but I'm better at you when you're not my everything? The business, I need poems to survive. I need to follow a sunbeam across the room. The business, I need fresh air and often. I need to fuck around. If you want me you have to share me, the business. The business, you're asking too much. The business you have to pour back what’s been poured into you. Remember, the business, you have to remember, if you want to feel different, you have to do different things. You can't just do what you already know, the business. The business, I don't know the way forward and neither do you and frankly, the business, that's beautiful. The business let's keep going and growing, the business, but slowly, okay? And softly, steady. I want to stay present, the business, I want to understand how you work and how I do, I want us to do different things. The business, don't let me drown. I won't let myself drown for you, the business, and in return I will not let you down.

For so long, I thought what made me good was what I could do well. And so I did. And did and did some more. I did everything I was asked. I did everything I wasn't. I did what I thought had to be done. I did the most. I did until I couldn't do it. And then I still tried to do what I couldn't. And then I could barely stand up. I could barely stand myself. I did not know what to do next.

And that's when I started The Animal Eats. A year ago, just about. I had quit the job that took too much. I had not yet started the business, though the business was on its way. We knew we wanted to build it, but it was still just a good idea. In the meantime, I needed something to steady myself. Something I could love that was only my own. Something I could do without urgency or expectation. Something to keep me breathing.

an intention set december 4, 2020

And now we're here. You're here with me, and I couldn't be more grateful.

I am exhausted, I can't stop crying, I miss my sweet small dog so much it knocks me out at least once or twice a day. I am tired of being angry. I am tired of the nonstop cycle of bloodletting to prove that people deserve human rights. I am tired of new ways telling me that they’re new when it’s just the old ways with new names. I keep feeling old patterns and disordered habits breathing down my neck. It turns out there’s no poem or daily practice or pair of dope new shoes that will heal me. It turns out healing, like grief, is not linear, which should come as no surprise, given that time is just a yard stick. It’s a tool. It's a calculator. An object we created to make sense of phenomena that exist beyond our control. And it, like me and everything else, is imperfect.

Thank god for this and also you, who are here, who, like me, deserves rest and recovery, who wasn't made to only do but to wholly be, perfectly imperfect on this beautiful planet we are ravaging beyond repair, who is more than enough as you are right now, alive, exhausted, grieving, feeling, healing or trying to anyway, keeping your plants alive or not, making five thousand Christmas cookies with the littles without letting them see you worry, offering your babies what comfort you can, the comfort you offer is more than enough, the comfort you offer is a goddamn gift in a world that forgets how to care, and I want you to know that I’m grateful.

Which is how I'd like to live.

Anyway, this week I read you a prompt, which is not a prompt at all but a poem itself, by a poet who is more than a poet, who delivers dreams, who once delivered a month of dreams to this house, whose dream delivery service makes an excellent gift, if you're into giving gifts this time of year. For a fun time, send someone a month of dreams and never let them know you did it.

a month of dreams by mathias svalina. for you or someone you like a lot.

Pretend it's a guided meditation.

Pretend it's a prompt. And if you're prompted, share what you create if you can. If you’re moved. If you want to.


December Poetry Writing Prompt: Day 2
by Mathias Svalina

  1. Take a deep breath, so deep your ribs ache.

  2. Remove the breath, intact, from your lungs.

  3. Take the breath to the abandoned mall, the one in which freaky creatures peer from the darkness of the boarded-up Sunglass Hut.

  4. Leave the breath at the mall for a year & a day. In that time neither take in nor exhale a breath.

  5. After a year & a day, return to the abandoned mall. Retrieve your breath.

  6. Find some pleasant place to sit. In the shade, or perhaps in the sun. Put the breath back in your lungs.

  7. Exhale the breath. As you do, speak every word you can only speak with this long-held breath, words previous breaths could not generate, words your next breath will not form. These words are the poem.

  8. Give the poem to the one who needs to hear what you could only say in that fleeting incarnation of yourself. Read the poem aloud with this person.

  9. Attend to what you were & were not & are & are not. Marvel at what you were & were not & are & are not. Be arrogant & bewildered & spellbound & always also the other thing too.

Follow along for the rest of December’s prompts, and also all the other things too. Or don’t. Either way, take as good of care of yourself as you can. Try to do less.

the animal eats
the animal eats
a bi-weekly reading of a beloved poem or excerpt from my bedside table, accompanied by a few stray thoughts and, on occasion, work in progress.
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