shake the dust
This is for the former prom queen, this is for the milk-crate ball players.
This is for the nighttime cereal eaters and for the retired, elderly Wal-Mart store front door greeters.
I love this poem - and I stumbled back upon it earlier this year, as I was cleaning up my timeline on Twitter.
No great epiphany that led me to doing the cleanup. I'd just found that over the last 6 months I wasn't really sharing that much on Twitter, other than brief conversations and pushes from Instagram.
So it was mainly an input into my life, and despite some judicious unfollowing on my part, it still seemed that much of what filled that timeline was mostly awfulness and RTs and reactions to things that 24 hours later, no-one really cared about anymore.
I didn't want to delete the account though - there's still a handful of friends, that I DM and touch base with. So I downloaded the archive and thought - "Let's nuke it."
Turns out that's problematic.
Especially if you just fire up a service like TweetDelete.
Which I had already done.
This is for the two year olds
Who cannot be understood because they speak half English and half God
So you can then read some tips and tricks like I did, from either the Verge or Mashable. As a result of how I did all this my Twitter timeline is now a mishmash, with apparently 14.7K tweets, but large blank spaces if you try to scroll through it, and also errant RTs that pop up, as the database turns itself over in unknown ways.
I finally resorted to using advanced search on Twitter, rather than their specifically useless way to delete tweets. This means I can grab a year and scroll through and remember that version of myself, and then delete any or all manually and at my leisure. I've found it quite empowering to let a few tweets remain, some with urls that may no longer link to a thing, fading shades of me and momentary.
I admit, it's a strange form of curated self-branding. On the flip side, it has been refreshing to make a conscious choice to not be on Twitter. Removing it from my phone has helped. Auto-clearing cookies and passwords in browser tabs, mean it's an effort to login. It's not a feed that dominates my thinking now.
It's about making that feed a moment in my time - but not all of time.
To that end, I like what Robin Sloan does with his feed, and I've setup the aforementioned TweetDelete service to remove any tweets I make after a period of time.
Because I think that's the point of Manjani's poem, that it's about embracing the stories that you've lived, yet still having the courage to set out to write and create new ones, free from the realities that once shaped you.
Make this not just some poem that I write
Not just some poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all
Walk into it, breathe it in, let it crash through the halls of your arms
Like the millions of years of millions of poets
Coursing like blood, pumping and pushing
Making you live, shaking the dust
My life has changed, by choice and in both dramatic and subtle ways over the last year. So it's only reasonable that my choices about what stories I'm feeding on have changed also.
There's also something deeply powerful about viewing this performance of the same poem in 2015.
As Anyun Chatterjee says in the Youtube comments:
"I feel as though the words in this poem haven't changed much, but Anis is definitely not the same person he was when he first performed this piece. That carries through and it's quite beautiful to watch and hear. Once again showing us that spoken word is composed of both the word and the speaking, and that changes in either makes each performance something new and special."
We are not the same people we once were.
And that's OK.
Clutch the knob tightly and open on up
And run forward and far into its widespread, greeting arms
With your hands outstretched before you
Fingertips trembling, though they may be