Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

30 December 2022

What is your kiwi?

A few years ago I had lunch with a former intern who was in town and wanted to catch up. He told me a story of a man who had never eaten a kiwi.

"It's not a very interesting story," he said. "His parents didn't like kiwis so he never had them as a child. Only when he was older, and people started saying, 'you've never had a kiwi?', did he realise it was a weird thing. But he decided to make it a choice. He still hasn't eaten a kiwi."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because he thought, one day when life gets too dull or repetitive, or he feels depressed, he will know there is still something new to look forward to. All he has to do is go downstairs to the nearest shop and buy a kiwi." He paused heavily on that ending and leaned over our empty plates. "Angela. Do you have a kiwi?"

I can't remember how I answered. I like the idea of having some small, easily-accessible thing that remains to be experienced, a hedge against the everyday travails that can make life feel Sisyphean. In moments I've considered the question since, I mostly think about big kiwis: Moving to Paris. Half-moving to Italy. Learning to forge and tend fires. Learning to cook. That one time when, lonely in my new Paris life, so long ago, I took a four-hour improv class.

But the point of the story is that a kiwi isn't a big thing. It's a tiny thing that reinfuses a tiny dose of magic into life, enough to keep going, to hope again. I went to the Italian bookshop in Paris and practiced Italian with the shopkeeper, which made me nervous. I let Demo talk me into buying butter cookie-scented candles. I ate dark chocolate with octopus on top. I conducted that Covid experiment where I stayed up as late as I wanted, and slept when I wanted, and ended up living on a reverse schedule to everyone else: Breakfast became dinner, sunrise my sunsets.

The general vibe on the social networks right now is that people are tired of hoping for a "better" 2023 than the 2022 we got. I think of something a client said, months ago: Nobody believes anymore that life will be better tomorrow than it is today. Nobody thinks anymore that their children will do better than they did. 

Hope is being crushed, at a growing pace, under the burden of capital.

What a mindset to find oneself in, though. Where does one go from there? I've already done the rage against the machine, shuttled through the abject desolation that follows. There's no solace there. There is no there there. As King Solomon once said: "Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!"

It occurred to me, the other day, what my kiwi actually is. I've been fooling around with it for the last few years, and it has never stopped restoring my sense of wonder. 

My kiwi is making weird choices. Big, small. Doesn't matter.

When you're finally ready to cede to chaos, it merits remembering that chaos yields new cosmos. This is the lesson of trickster gods, and, oddly enough, kiwis: The fruit is thus named because it resembles the furry egg of the kiwi bird. It is a something that looks like something else—deceptive, but not shatteringly so. (Unless you're a kiwi bird, I suppose.)

Social conventions are collapsing. All the things we didn't dare do, for fear of punishment or opprobrium? Fuck it. Make the weird choice you didn't think was allowed. Go on vacation alone. Do the wacky masters degree. Run away from all the war news and take a salsa class. Quit your job and live on unemployment awhile. Take up a weird hobby that has zero viable hope for becoming a "career." Fuck careers. Learn High Valerian—or better yet, a real language like Tagalog—and speak it to strangers.

Call reality's bluff. Test the elasticity of your possible, your normal.

We spend so much time chasing rewards and avoiding punishment. Half of the rewards and punishments don't come to fruition. I suspect the worst thing we can do in this time is dig our heels into the old, dying promises and threats our system has made to sustain itself, and find ourselves alone holding an empty bag in the end.

Norbert Wiener once observed that the more one learns about the universe, the more one realises that life was an improbable gift, utterly squandered when you measure it by the arbitrary benchmarks of civilisation. The sum of this gift cannot simply be spent desperately pursuing capital or some golden standard of success. We need more.

Make weird choices. My weird choices have done more for me, and borne more beautiful fruit, than my careful plans. Sometimes the outcomes have sucked, but that was less than 5% of the time, and 0% were devastating. It has all been a good exercise in staying open, curious and childlike; and learning the many nuanced lessons that love still has to teach me.

To return to the topic of kiwis, though, here's a weird choice I made about them specifically once, when I felt too lazy to peel one. I bit straight into the skin. It wasn't fibrous or unpleasant; improbably, the skin is totally edible. Practically melts in your mouth. Because of this weird and vaguely antisocial choice, I will now spend the rest of my life knowing that peeling a kiwi is a luxury I can indulge in or not. 

It doesn't take a massive weird choice to make your life richer.

Chaos makes new cosmos. If you don't happen to like the one you find yourself in, another awaits around the corner of your next decision.

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