I woke with all my dreams on loan in a lucid state of revolution.
I woke up in this country with simulacra fantasies of an all-American Dream. I woke up in a Hopper painting, overweight and lonely with Sinatra screaming at me because he too was lonely.
I woke up with a language that transgressed against daunting plans and my vision was a sense siphoned off of the mouth of a Klein bottle that I kept secret in the interview for This American Life because the best dreams, the ones that keep time going, are deranged.
I woke up in this land with dreams of revision, praying at the wishing well and counting my time by coffee spoons because the abacus was outdated and the currency was that of servitude.
But why is gratitude not green? And have you considered why we say “green with envy?” What if we had agreed on a more suitable lie?
I woke up sure that this was a dream. I woke up on the symbols of non-violence. My waking up was a peaceful protest and the ultimate maxim was to be the dream. But that’s some really heavy lifting. I had to practice. I did pushups.
We are the dreams of revisions, of pebbles in the sand, washed ashore amid the disarray of debris, relics of the tsunami of our culture. And we are the revolution.
The revolution does not come fast enough in the advertised future.
The revolution calls for a personal transformation.
The revolution calls for a slowing down, for a listening, for mindfulness, for leaning into the trouble and the billion voices, digitized and not, of separating the waters of what is avatar, what is an institutional hypnosis, what is the cool hand of real human touch.
The revolution recognizes temperature changes. It does not destroy. It waits patiently for the tides to recede, for the air to settle, for gravity to announce itself, for a pause in conversation, all while cultivating your own garden in the secret passageways of your dreams.
And dreams cannot be whored out. They are whored in. It, dream, cannot be given away, one must be invited into the recesses of privacies, and there you are the passage maker.
The revolution does not take power and give it away because that cycle has rendered the movement moot. Power to the dis-empowered, dis-empower the powerful by force, still leaves someone naked in the snow shaking with vengeance, calculating their hero’s journey.
The revolution has no principle, and there is no interest rate when we scatter the cost across lifetimes. But the down payment is a complete surrender into the dream, and this could be the dream of half my generation.
The revolution is art turning from colonial culture to the native, to tribal, to Eastern, to matriarchal. It is in the shock wave, the only window with light when religion, when politics, when science, when consumerism had all failed to actualize our dreams; when we are virtual, and virtually driven to imagine a greater leap, out of the virtual and into a hands-on vision.
But it starts inside. It starts with silence. Not everyone can be a marvel hero—icons of greatness. I’s and I’s and I’s, more I’s: we need eyes, many eyes, many, many eyes, tuned in to the human frequency. We don’t need definition makers, we need meaning finders.
We need less want.
But if you want something less prosaic, something concrete, something less dream state, something less stream of consciousness, something to tweet, a wardrobe of directives and an update on the status of the revolution, than here:
We need sustainable products, and sustainable is holistic not in the way that some fearful greedy man on the monopoly board with money and power has absconded with the dictionary to make you see new-age, and hippy, and wistful, but rather in a rigorous conscious way where ‘sustainable’ creates culture, considers the earth and our place here, localizes, reaches out, is intention followed by action, not in your neighbors sandbox but in your own.
And the sandbox is lucid and the sand turns to concrete upon rain, and spans lifetimes, and maybe not in this lifetime but what choice have we got?
We need mindfulness, we need drums, we need trance, we need to lose ourselves and reconstitute around a new meaning of the dream, one with eye contact, one where we talk to strangers, one fitted on the currency of gratitude. We need today.
break the mold,
delve out kindness to a stranger.
Compliment a child running in the street.
Ask an old man about his karmic quest,
hold hands a little too long,
read a sad story, on paper,
carry an extra fruit,
re-imagine what sustainability means for you and your product.
Go into a handstand on the side walk,
better yet, do a heart opener. You will have to get dirty.
Wish good morning in the afternoon, and when they respond with “It’s the afternoon” reply with “Well, it’s never too late to start again.”
Surrender, just for today, the anxiety of whether you fail or succeed.
Try to understand Shakespeare but fail,
Ask someone if they like the Beatles and then quote a line in conversation.
don a clown nose in the most awkward situation,
carry an extra piece of fruit.
Read out loud.
Meditate (sit) in an office chair;
ask a coworker to sit with you but smile playfully and innocently as you do so.
Write a thought down and then amend it with semicolons,
(and then amend it) (again) (and again),
Witness the constitution of your mind.
Begin writing that parking ticket and then rip it up.
Triple tip, at McDonald’s. Pay someone else’s toll.
Do a hundred push-ups and then yell from the top of your lungs,
“One thing I can tell you is we’ve got to be free!”
Better yet, yell,
“New shit has come to light!”
Make a business decision that does not hinge on the immediacy of risk-reward.
Write an essay in direct address.
Decide what that means for you without me; in fact, without anyone. Meaning is yours—that is what we are fighting for.
Write a love letter to yourself from your past life, and forgive the messenger.
Write a thank you letter from yourself in your next life, and let go of your temporal image.
Run the first leg of a marathon; it is shorter than you think.
Put masking tape over every brand name on your wardrobe. Write your name on the masking tape. Better yet, write something in Latin. Dying languages are great.
Take up graffiti.
Apply for an MBA but for reasons other than wealth.
Bring a round of plums for everyone at the bar and afterwards announce how cold and how sweet they were.
Repeat in the morning. Repeat with a partner. Repeat in stereo… stereo… repeat, repeat!
Repeat in poem, in social contract, in business plan, in person.
The revolution is here.
The revolution is not about power. Power is the lie that keeps on stealing meaning from you.
We need consciousness. Wait, hear that again and mouth it with me…we need con…scious…ness. Draw up the expanse of what that means.
Whatever your skill, whatever your medium, your device…film, letters, business, medicine, law, personal training, yoga, software or hard, operator, content writer, bartender, clerk, parking attendant, mother, stranger, walker, barista, CEO, veteran, SEAL Team member, sports broadcaster, cook, asshole hater, order taker, manifesto maker.
We need you!
To draw up (a)dream…
Nikita Nelin is the offspring of a cosmonaut and of a therapist, and though he did originally study psychology, he has never tried to escape the earth, except through writing. Nikita is a high-school dropout who has taught college, an ESL speaker who has received awards for writing in his second language, he is an American and a foreigner. His work comes alive in-between extremes. He was born in Russia and immigrated to the U.S in 1989. He has lived in Austria and Italy, and has traveled the U.S extensively. He has received the 2019 Dogwood Nonfiction Prize, the 2011 Summer Literary Seminars prize for nonfiction, 2010 Sean O’Faolain Prize for short fiction, and was a finalist for the 2018 Dzanc Books nonfiction prize as well as the 2017 Restless Books Immigrant Prize. He holds an MFA from Brooklyn College, is a 2019 Associate Fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center, and is a member of the Southern Collective Experience. He likes to play with words and to remember what they feel.