The self is such a pain

The first time I hear Wong May speak is in this faceless voiceover interview she did when she won the Windham-Campbell Prize in 2022.
“I think we are too full of ourselves as writers and poets,” she says. “The self is such a pain. We are so self-absorbed & the more we dwell on ourselves, the more self-obsessed we are.”
I’m in an inversion class, about to attempt a forearm stand with two strangers standing by my side, urging me to fly. I say, “I’ve never stayed up by myself before.” One of them says, “Are you afraid of falling?” I nod with a nervous smile. The other one says, “We’re here to catch you. If you fall, you fall into her.”
I think of Wong May’s words, the self is truly such a pain. I desire to suspend myself above the self that is afraid of falling in front of strangers, the self that dwells on what I haven’t done before, instead of what could be.
There’s no knowing no
way of
             knowing, your
toes touch earth as
one would imagine:
each step
a dandelion.

Wong May also says that what you perceive can save you, that this is why we do art. She tells Zachary Schomburg that “writing has always been for me a way of being in this world; I moved about a lot, changing continents and suitcases. But poetry—or rather writing—puts me ‘on the spot.’”
If poetry has to mean anything, let it be a reminder that we are here, that at some point we have paused to look, & have seen something different about the world. A Bad Girl’s Book of Animals for me, is that luminous sign that in 1969, and even now, someone captures the enduring, elusive strangeness of this world, the unknowability of it all. And it is this capacious unknowing that sets us free.
During the class, I try & try again to make myself stay inverted. Each time, a new leap into the unknown. At some point I fall, catch myself on my side & laugh. I did not fall into my new friends & that’s okay.
The self is such a pain—& I am reminded not to take myself too seriously.

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