Miranda July, Kimya Dawson, and Being Brave

I found a quote by Miranda July last week that I’d saved a long time ago. It was underneath a photo of her opening a letter,  like this: 

“This is a picture of me taken in 1996. I am opening a letter from a stranger and no doubt my heart is pounding in a way that is uncalled for. I am 22 and I am just dying to know what this stranger has to say and I’m hoping it will turn my world upside down. Not that my world is so horrible, but I know it will be better upside down and understood by a stranger. It is this desire, to be transformed by understanding, that has pretty much propelled me through every single day since 1996.” — Miranda July

I’ve been propelled through life by the desire to be transformed by understanding too, often without realising it. The lyrics I’ve drawn below are from the Kimya Dawson song Caving In. Kimya Dawson, and this song in particular, make me feel that way. That my world has been turned upside down and understood by a stranger. It still blows my mind that arranging the most simple of words in a particular order can elicit such a feeling, but it can, and sometimes it doesn’t even take words.

I think trying to be brave so others can feel brave — despite your heart caving in — is important. Sometimes other people know you’re just trying to be brave though, because they are too. You can often feel this silent air of understanding, that we’re all just trying to be brave so we can keep each other going. But that doesn’t matter, bravery is contagious, and there is strength in numbers. And that’s what it is about this feeling. We can never truly know what anyone else thinks or feels, because we will only ever experience our own thoughts and emotions. But when we feel like someone else understands we feel connected, safe, validated, less alone . . . brave. There are days when I’m not sure why anyone even bothers to get out of bed, and days when I wonder how the human race still exists. But I’ve started to think that the pursuit of this feeling, that other people understand, is a big part of it.

Anyway, the point is: if you’ve never listened to Kimya Dawson, you should.

LifeLee CrutchleyComment