Six Directives

by Eve Bowen

Wear your Nicole Richie sunglasses: they make you feel chic and no one will tell you to take them off, so be brave and wear them — go ahead. When you see your reflection in a store window, note the position of your shoulders: if they’re slumping, remember that this isn’t a permanent condition — you just need to get yourself to a yoga class; if they’re upright, let there be a spring in your step — you’ve just been spared a visual reinforcement of depression. When you’re grief-stricken and can’t eat, stock your apartment with groceries — you’ll be ready for solid food again, probably sooner than you think. When you’re in a funk, consider the music you’ve been listening to: if you’ve had “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” on repeat for three days, it’s time to take the Garden State soundtrack out of rotation and put on Stevie Wonder — you know Music of My Mind makes you want to dance; you know you won’t mope to the words “Every day I wanna fly my kite... every day I wanna get on my camel and ride.” When you’re out and about, tilt your face toward the sun, not the pavement — plants aren’t the only life forms that benefit from aiming themselves skyward, you too can gain nutrients from daylight. Give your cat quality time: she senses when she doesn’t have your full attention, she knows when you’re shirking — yet if you devote even a few minutes solely and completely to her, you’ll be rewarded with purring; you may also suddenly realize that, for those few minutes, you’ve been relieved of the affliction of self-critical thoughts — indeed, of any thoughts at all.


Eve Bowen works at The New York Review of Books and is a graduate student at the Bread Loaf School of English. (These six sentences were inspired by Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl.")