A Time Capsule
‘Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.’
Jorge Luis Borges in A New Refutation of Time, Labyrinths.
Oh, look at us. Witnesses of this fluid system that is time; passengers in a calendar that showed us new feats in science, fed us fresh questions about our economies and financial institutions, gave us yummy art from around the world, ferried us from Dorsey to Musk as Twitter changed hands, dropped us at events where we met life and felt every emotion it had to offer.
And now here we are, near the end (at least this temporary end) where we exchange gifts and plan out a new year; we walk backwards to move forward; we rewind as far back as January to verify, as Toni Morrison rightly observed, that ‘the past is not done and it is not over, it’s still in process, which is another way of saying that when it’s critiqued, analyzed, it yields new information about itself. The past is already changing as it is being reexamined, as it is being listened to for deeper resonances.’
This listening is, in part, why Memories exists. I wanted to make space for us to listen to time and hear ourselves. I wanted us to spend time apart picking out worthy elements from the year and then gathering here to exchange our truths. I know firsthand how important it is to listen to other people’s stories; how much breathing space you get from knowing that you’re not alone in your joy and sadness, success and failure, confidence and confusion, hope and resignation. Stories have saved me in more ways than I can count, and I wanted Memories to serve as a campfire centring our experiences in 2022.
So, I asked my people through Letters of Consolation to share their favourite memory of 2022 (so far), the art pieces that moved them the most, and one word that sums up their hope for the future. I received eleven responses, and Memories is a revelation of their experiences, a public documentation of a portion of their journey.
You can digest Memories in two ways:
Memories is a time capsule; a way of looking past and beyond the shoulder of time through reflection. As you read, I hope it nudges you to share space with your experiences and pick the most profound messages for the future. Find a truth worth holding and a question worth asking.
What you’ll find here:
- Favourite memories of 2022 (from twelve people)
- Most moving art pieces (including direct links)
- Hopes for the future
- 5 Hand-picked essays from Strange Notes
- A brief on all languages explored in essays
Coke For Loneliness. 2021. Julius Agbaje.
Favourite Memories of 2022
You’re entering an intimate space, rooms containing the most treasured experiences of other people. I ask that you respect these experiences. Try not to hurry through their words. Read them as you would listen to a dear friend’s truth, Sit with them and imagine for a moment that these stories belong to you too. Welcome.
The year hasn’t ended per se, but my favourite memory this year was a person.
Moved to a new country.
My favourite memory of 2022 was a particular conversation with someone I like very much. We talked late into the night, nothing important in particular, just hobbies, similarities and mundane stuff. There was relativity, sincerity and vulnerability which isn’t something I get every day. Hours flew by and I was getting worried because it meant our conversation would have to end eventually. It’s funny how time seems to move faster when you’re in a magical space. This was somebody I knew I couldn’t have, I was trying to come to terms with it yet I wanted to know him better. That conversation was my wish coming true. Just a conversation, but it was a good one. It’s hard to remember the last time I had one of those. I don’t have as many friends as I used to, and that’s what I get from moving around a lot, getting a full-time job, and sticking to certain ideologies.
My wedding anniversary trip to British Columbia. Seeing some of the beautiful wonders of the world and spending time with the wonder that is my man lol.
The smile on my mother’s face after my brother and I got her a little something.
My brother’s birthday party before he died.
It will have to be the birth of my third nephew. When I thought I had given all my love, a new human appears to prove me wrong and show there’s more space. Nephew two was the love of my life, his brother is the ultimate love of my life.
Intentionally deciding to own my life and working only towards that path, if finding my centre, in December of 2021. Entered this year with a bold mindset. Mad. Between, my fondest memory was watching my nephew grow up.
I had days that were really nice, like my sister celebrating her 30th birthday. She had this big occasion for her birthday and it was nice. This 2022 has been a year of evolving, trying to move on in life, and just trying to achieve something. I don’t know. I’ve had really nice days like going out to the movies, eating out, having dinner with friends, you know. I always look forward to December because a lot of my friends in Lagos and other places come back and I get to spend time with them. I get to reconnect with them and have a good laugh. We have this tradition where we cook a large bowl of Indomie noodles and just eat like we did in secondary school. That’s usually my favourite memory of the year, but it hasn’t happened yet.
So my favourite memory from 2022 would have to be the first time I travelled to Lagos, this being the first time I was travelling without a parental figure, which is surprising. I also travelled with a friend, on my birth week, and it really opened my eyes to what I saw as fun. I think my idea of fun really widened because it just opened my eyes to new things. I came to Lagos, tried new food, did fine dining. I had a great birthday. But overall, it was just a very new experience, not one I’ve had before. And that’s why it’s perhaps my most memorable day of this year.
This question is so heavy because when you are trying to think of an answer, your brain is all over the place and you can’t necessarily figure out what your favourite memory of 2022 is. It also feels like, all of a sudden, all you can remember are the bad days. The bad moments, the things that made you feel sad and heavy and distraught or anxious. So then it becomes really difficult to pinpoint memories that were good and beautiful and amazing.
I’m not sure if I have a favourite memory of 2022. Because I can’t really think of one moment that was so significant for me, for it to be the best thing that happened to me this year. I think everything that has happened from January 1st to this very point is a culmination of what is supposed to be. I can’t say that having to have fun with my friends was the best part. I can’t say that staying still in a moment of worry was the best part. I can’t say crying my heart out when I was extremely anxious is the best part. I can’t say having to have a very supportive family is the best part. These are all amazing things that happened to me this year. And I don’t know. I’m not sure if I have a favourite moment of 2022. I think this year is that year that just made everything fit, sort of like a puzzle that just fixed itself. Not necessarily to create a bigger picture but to create at least a better half of that picture. And I’m grateful for that.
Bread is right. Thinking through this question, it almost feels like ‘all you can remember are the bad days. The bad moments, the things that made you feel sad and heavy and distraught or anxious.’ This is no easy question to answer. But I love how it’s forced me to comb through the bad times and locate the beautiful experiences I had. My favourite memory of 2022 isn’t a single experience but a combination of (very unexpected) acts of kindness from strangers. A woman gifted me a charger for my router when I went in for a replacement. Stella Inabo went above and beyond for me when I came to her with a dilemma. A neighbour offered me a (30 minutes) ride on a sunny day, attending to my affair before theirs. These moments reminded me that we don’t have to bend ourselves to receive kindness. Love is abundant. Kindness is abundant, and we are all worthy of it. Kindness is necessary and should be paid forward.
Bliss. 2022. Chisa Linto.
Most Moving Art Pieces
Art like prayer is a hand outstretched in the darkness, seeking for some touch of grace which will transform it into a hand that bestows gifts. _Franz Kafka
Art invites us to take the journey beyond price, beyond costs into bearing witness to the world as it is and as it should be. Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it from even the most tragic of circumstances. Art reminds us that we belong here. And if we serve, we last. _Toni Morrison
Curated Playlists of art pieces
- Memories 2022 Music Playlist, Spotify.
- Memories 2022 Music Playlist, YouTube.
- Memories 2022 Playlist of (nearly) All Art Pieces, YouTube.
Girl by Jamaica Kincaid
Too numerous to mention. I’m not trying to be narcissistic, but my art has been what has made me the happiest. I enjoyed writing “You’re no idol” a lot.
A Korean musical titled The Sound of Magic (I’m not a big fan of musicals but I love this one).
Good Times by Jungle. Jungle is a musical duo/group (Not sure which one). They always use dancers in their music videos, people from all parts of the world expressing themselves through dance. Good Times is probably my most-watched music video this year. It has its main characters but I focus on a new person every time I rewatch it. Other songs I’ve played on repeat in 2022 are All of the Angels by Tears for Fears, Neon Brother by Nothing but Thieves, Social Cues by Cage the Elephant, and Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky.
Movies: From Scratch and Collision Course. Music: Yebba’s Evergreen and Enya’s Caribbean Blue.
Norah Jones’s cover of Black Hole Sun. Amy Winehouse’s cover of Donny Hathaway’s I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know and We’re Still Friends. Television series, 1883.
I’m Telling the Truth But I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi. It was such a beautiful piece of work that I’ve read it twice now and would be reading it again in the future.
Ibn Qayyim’s Release from the Shackles of Desire and Ibn Taymiyyah’s Are you Hurt? 20 Formulas for a Forbearing Heart. I have become a better human under the influence of these books. Slow to react and more tolerant, the opposite of what I was in the past.
Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie. Probably read it every year since 2016. There’s this song, Champion by Fire Boy DML. I’ve felt safe within the words since the pandemic happened. Also, I know you asked for art but recently, my pet cat [has been my favourite piece].
I went back in time to music I grew up with, like Tupac, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Eminem. This has been a year of like retrospection, looking back. I just feel like the music then was so so good. So, it’s like I’m stuck in the 90s and early 2000s.
Music: Bound and Hurt and Let You Go by Ry X. Yebba’s My Mind. Softly by Rhye. Grey Cloud Lullaby by Slow Meadow (which reminds me of a certain childhood ease). Artwork: Bliss by Chisa Linto and Coke for Loneliness by Julius Agbaje. Short Films: The Soloists and The Egg Movies: Men and Everything Everywhere All At Once. Books: Stoner by John Edward Williams, Eloghosa Osunde’s Vagabonds! and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Light Unto My Path. 2019. Raji Babatunde.
One word that sums your hope for the future
Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.
Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
- Ease. Mo
- Jesus. Mina
- Surreal. Gameli
- Ease. Chidera
- Joy. Oluchi
- Success. Waris
- Ease. Etashe
- Ultimate fulfilment. Cee
- I’ll be everything I’m supposed to be and have everything I deserve. Blackduke
- An improved matronly version of myself. A nurturer of souls, a content individual. Fehintola
Hand-Picked Essays from Strange Notes
- First, what is the point of it all?
- A question about finding purpose in life.
- A prescription for when you feel unworthy.
- A reflection on the meaning of home.
- And now, here’s how you are changing the world.
Languages Explored in Essays
- Gera, a West Chadic language genetically classified under the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is spoken by 200,000 people in Bauchi State, Nigeria, and is considered a threatened language.
- Karekare, a West Chadic language genetically classified under the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is spoken by over 300,000 people in Bauchi State, Gombe State, and Yobe State, Nigeria.
- Oromo, a Cushitic language, which is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is spoken by over 30 million people chiefly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti.
- Sidamo, a Cushitic language under the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken by over 4 million people in parts of southern Ethiopia by the Sidama people.
- Afar, a Cushitic language under the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken by over 2 million people in Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
- Bedawi, a Cushitic language spoken by over 2 million people across Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya.
- Saho, a Cushitic language spoken by over 200,000 people across Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
- Somali, a Cushitic language spoken by over 21 million people chiefly in Somalia, and across Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Thank you for sharing space with us here. Thank you for coming as you are and allowing yourself to leave retouched by these experiences collected from time. I hope you found a truth worth holding and a question worth asking. If you’d like to join the community, sign up for Letters of Consolation.
Thanks for reading.
If you enjoyed this piece, consider sharing it with a friend. It makes all the difference to me as an artist.
I started Strange Notes because I wanted an open space to ponder on existence. That’s still true. But here, too, is a body discovering itself. A house beyond borders that’s open to you, to selves in search of, to heads seeking rest. A room where thoughts turn to words turn to records and meet you.
I share notes on my questions about life, conversations with friends and strangers, and art that shifts something in me (and could in you too). In this place, there are no rules. Move the vase around the tabletop. Shift the curtains to the wall. Pull the rug to the ceiling. Daydream. Come, find, ask still.
I publish Strange Notes monthly (typically on the first or last Sunday of the month), and as you read, I hope each note initiates a question about the fabrics of existence: the things that make us who we are and the events that define life.
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