I used to make paintings—horrible little still-lifes often in hideous colours, just this side of grotesque. When they were dry, I cut bits out of them. I made incisions. Or excisions. And sewed them up.

I want to sew things up again. I want continuity, but there are parts missing. I am mending a canvas with gashes in it, with gaping holes in it. You can sew things up again, but you can still see the holes. A canvas is not like skin, and it does not heal.

It is a New Year, and the cultural pressure from the West and occasionally from here is to leave the past behind.

I am sick of it. Stop telling each other not to live in the past and to live more in the present. You need to live in both. You need a tapestry, not more incisions. You don’t need more boxes to shove all the crap in. You need to decorate your house with it beautifully.

That’s true of me, but I think it’s also true of everyone. If you are angry at someone for something that happened in the past, don’t let go of it. Don’t try to stop being angry.

Don’t forgive.

Try to weave it together. Make sense of it. Why are you so angry? What needs to be done now because of that anger?

What does it say about you that you were so angry? What does it say about them?

Try to use it to help you make sense of things, to make sense of the world, yourself, other people, God, whatever.

Make meaning.

Don’t use amnesia as a survival mechanism. Knit things together. Make something out of it. Knit a sweater, knit a scarve, weave a tapestry out of it. Make something beautiful, but don’t let go. Do something good.

I wanted to kill someone yesterday—I really did. I was that angry. I didn’t’ let go. I cleaned the bathroom. It is lovely now. I polished my shoes. They sparkle like glass.

I made something. You can do that too.

If you can’t resolve that situation, resolve something else.

If you want to reach into the past and save me from what it is too late to save me from, write a check if you can afford to do it. There are girls being trafficked now. There are girls trying to escape who don’t know how to do it, who need help doing it, who have no one to help them sort out what it means to be a trafficked child, or what it means now to have interrupted schooling or no schooling or schooling that they failed to learn anything during because they couldn’t pay attention to it or because they were too busy trying to use their behaviour to ask for help.

Help them.

They need everything. They need a place to run away too. They need an effective police force. They need toothbrushes. They need a therapist. They need tutors to help them catch up in school. They need a Big Sister. They need constructive things to do in their free time—because they’ve never had recreation before. They have worked. Or they have self-destructed. Or they have just tried to keep breathing.

They don’t know how to play games.

You can help them.

Write your elected representative. What is being done in your state/city/county/province/country/whatever to prevent trafficking? You need to know this. You don’t need to know what the answers are to the whole thing, but push. Make sure something is being done. Make sure there is at least a little rat nibble of pressure on them.

And if you see something you think could be child abuse, call.

There is an overlap. Children who aren’t protected by their parents are assaulted by someone else.

You don’t need to know the child is definitely being abused. That is not your job. You just need to not be insane. Call. Consult. Provide information and step back.

Let the professionals sort it out. Left to their own devices, some of them can, but they don’t have eyes everywhere. Your eyes are necessary to the process, and most everyone else shuts them. Even people required to keep them open shut them. I know, because I’ve seen it too many times.

And, yes, it’s not always going to turn out the way you wish it would and you can’t save all the starfish and, yes, it’s tough on the families if the cops show up at their door and interview them.

Fuck it.

Do it anyway.

Sometimes it does make things worse.

However, most things make it worse. A grumpy checker at the grocery store makes it worse. A lost job makes it worse. A party on Saturday night makes it worse. Dirty dishes left in the sink makes it worse. Everything makes it worse.

Do it anyway.

Fuck it.

Consider what is being done about child poverty. Children whose parents are entirely consumed with keeping body and soul together don’t have the energy to protect their children. Their girls are vulnerable to lies, to sociopaths, to promises of escape. Their girls don’t get to stay in school or if they do, they can’t see the point of it. They don’t study. They join gangs just to belong to someone, and end up servicing whoever needs it.

They escape by getting knocked up, and their children grow up in poverty too.

Poor girls have unsupervised time and no hope for a future.

A million things can help them. No, you can’t save them, but they need to know someone from the world outside theirs cares.

Don’t let go of things. Hold on. Use it to make something with. Use it to make something beautiful.

In the new year, stop trying to let go of the past. Stop using amnesia to get through the horror of the world we live in, and start making something useful out of the horror.

In the new year, remember. Live in everything: past, present, future. Live in it all. Make it seamless, make it beautiful, make it help. Help yourself, or help someone else, but help.

We’re all in this fucked up world together.