At one time or other I’ve resolved to take singing lessons and play guitar because people with no musical habits are closer to death, to work out, to outgrow the desire to have good reason to hit someone in the teeth, to kill myself before I become infirm, to learn to ride a motorcycle, to quit smoking, to never again drink alcohol you can only buy at Aldi, to cook more on occasions that prevent my mother from cooking more, to develop pectoral muscles so no lover will ever again say to me with their hands on my chest and my penis inside them, ‘It’s just flat there,’ to pick friends carefully, to try MDMA a couple more times before I hit thirty, to reconcile with the concept of massage as a purchasable commodity, to never give money to beggars, to be open to the possibility that I’m bisexual, to read the complete works of Shakespeare, to go to sleep before midnight and drink water and eat fruit and yoghurt, to think less about cunnilingus in public places, to be at my dog Sappho’s side when she dies, to learn how to box, to acquire a racially diverse group of friends without seeming like I’m trying to acquire a racially diverse group of friends, to give back the books I’ve borrowed, to cease thinking of favours bestowed upon women as somehow more worth doing than favours generally, to never live at home again, to never own a motorcycle, to learn a second language, to break a bone in my body because this macabre curiosity won’t go away, to be open-minded should a woman ever want to come on me, to do the exercises the physiotherapist gave me, to cut down on drinking, to stop straining so hard when I shit because it gives me a hernia, to refrain from resorting to promiscuity as a means of feeling control and value, to never pay money to volunteer because if a not-for-profit needs incentive to use you then you have better things to do, to complete a Masters degree, to live frugally, to use my imagination as the only stimulant when I masturbate, to disengage from social media, to use social media responsibly which may be the same thing, to outgrow the homophobic insecurity that’s prevented me from having an emotionally open friendship with a man, to apply similar logic to having my prostate checked, to do more cardio, to never again own a smartphone, to try heroin once, to support assisted suicide, to get arrested for something of which I can be proud, to have a novel published, to swim with a blue whale, to never complete a PhD, to stop taking acid, to hit someone in the teeth, to never abandon my conviction that human population control is a good idea, to stop kissing women and hugging men because kissing men should never have become taboo and feeling pressure to kiss women is stupid, to be less furious when people remark that Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue is nice background music, to unravel my desire to have anal sex with women, to get to know my grandfather regardless of being motivated by how little I knew my grandmother, to adopt a child, to quit smoking again, to walk slower, to watch less television because the line between sedative and art is not one I can draw, to dance the same way in public when I hear Jackie Wilson, Danny Brown, Smokey Robinson, Billie Holiday, D’Angelo, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Missy Elliott, Outkast, Sam Cooke, Rick Ross, A Tribe Called Quest, Stevie Wonder, Mos Def, Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan as I do in private, to trim my pubic hair with frequency and care because otherwise I snip small but sensitive pieces of skin off my scrotal sac, to disengage from the twenty-four-hour news cycle, to stop plucking my eyebrows, to catch, kill, prepare and eat an animal, to stop smoking weed, to talk to my brother like he’s a person not a presence, to give one hundred per cent of myself to things to which I usually give between sixty and seventy per cent like maintaining friendships, to answer honestly when someone asks how I am, to cease reinforcing subjugation as a source of sexual pleasure by no longer coming on women’s breasts, to learn to drive manual, to put the fifty dollars that I stole when I was seventeen back in my father’s wallet, to talk to my children more than my parents talk to me, to quit smoking for a third time, to never read Shakespeare again, to perform more cunnilingus in public places, to continue discerning the things I actually like from the things I purport to like because I’m insecure, to never snort anything ever, ever again, to keep my mortality at the front of my mind, to reconcile with the fact that I’ll never give back all the books I’ve borrowed, to stop being deliberately closed-minded about things because displays of exaggerated conviction do not lend charisma to character, to quit smoking for a fourth time because my death will not be a solitary experience and to die younger and more painfully as a result of my choices is idiotic, to create a new system of education, to work for people I admire, to read the classics, to love myself, to never eat magic mushrooms again, to cease measuring nuanced human experience in percentages, to recognise fear and arrogance because their confluence poisoned me, and to be honest: this sculpture who absents truth is my worst burden, he stops me knowing myself.
Ashley Thomson is a freelance writer and editor living in Canberra, Australia. He worked as Editor-in-Chief of BMA Magazine from 2012 to early 2014 and is a regular panellist on Scissors Paper Pen’s local book review event ‘The Same Page’. His essays on the art of music journalism and life writ large have been published via numerous blogs and journals. He blogs for himself at aabthomson.wordpress.com.