Advice for Devon at age two:
I know you find men with long hair terrifying, and that’s okay. Nobody gets it now, and while their particular likeness may be coincidence, the two recurring men you routinely scream and cry at do, in fact, end up in jail. I know. It’s crazy. But it’s okay. It’s actually pretty anti-climatic. You’ll soon realize that not all long haired men are scary, or even bad, and you may or may not end up marrying a guy who sometimes sports long hair, and you may even kinda like it. Take it easy. Before you know it, your intuitive, borderline-psychic ability to spot criminals will have faded, and you’ll be looking back on your baby super-powers with great fondness and envy.
Advice for Devon at age five:
You won’t ever fully forget, but remember these trips. Especially the mundanities of the car rides and the games of MASH. Tattoo her laugh on your brain. You’re so lucky; you still have seven whole years of this left.
Advice for Devon at age eight:
Nothing to advise here. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re right – you can’t pass up seeing a tiger in a non-zoo setting, let alone the creepy motel parking lot in your neighbourhood. I swear it’s worth your parents’ wrath. God, childhood is magical. Also, when you finally prove to your mom that there really is a fucking tiger at the motel, the look on her face is priceless and she takes everything you say way more seriously for a little while. You will never forget it. Or the tiger. Or Jane, the stripper.
Advice for Devon at age nine:
Make sure you take in the view of the shoreline. It won’t be there the next time you visit, and neither will she.
Advice for Devon at age ten:
Say goodbye when you’re given the chance. You’ll regret it if you don’t. It’s okay if you can’t, even with this advice. You can try again when you’re twenty.
Advice for Devon at age eleven:
Leave the baby birds alone. You can still enjoy nature without fucking it up.
Advice for Devon at age twelve:
Holy shit. Enough already; Santa Claus does not exist.
Advice for Devon at age fourteen:
Be less critical of yourself and more critical of everything else. Be critical of other people, but make it mostly a habit of keeping it to yourself. Everyone is different. Oh yeah, and no one cares how early you have to wake up for swim practice or how much you work out. You will never make friends that way.
Your first year of high school sucks, I know. Just get through it. You’ll really love art class and you get your braces off in May! It’ll be great and all, but that retainer fucking sucks. Next year will be better, I promise. You’ll make some friends and you won’t feel as ugly all the time. In the meantime, thank your brother for taking pity on you and sitting with you at lunch.
Advice for Devon at age sixteen:
Quit, if you want to. Being good at something is usually pointless if you don’t like it. I know you have things you love about it, mostly the people, right? The people are still there, and you’ll always have that bond. You’ll take so much away from it, too, just not the things you thought you would. Listen to their advice, but don’t take it. The world isn’t as small as you think.
Advice for Devon at age eighteen:
Just let him go. It’ll be okay, because in five years you will be very good friends.
Advice for Devon at age nineteen:
Share your drawings. I know they suck –oh my god, they suck– but share them anyway. It’ll speed up the process to making better stuff, and someone’s going to hate that, when you do. So get over it; there’s always someone who likes it too. That said, maybe stop drawing the same pictures of guns and banners. Or don’t, I don’t know. You’ll grow out of it, eventually.
Stop wearing your hair like that, you look fucking ridiculous.
Advice for Devon at age twenty:
Say goodbye when you’re given the chance. She may recognize you and she may not, but he asked you to be there and he really needs you. You will regret it if you don’t; you promised yourself you wouldn’t do this again. Don’t laugh if you really want to cry. It’s okay to cry. You weren’t made that strong.
Advice for Devon at age twenty-one:
Yes, he’s worth it. He is the best person you know. No, she is not, even though she’s been around forever. I know, I can’t believe it either.
Advice for Devon at age twenty-two:
No, nothing’s wrong with you. Your twenties are hard, and no one warned you about this. Just calm down, have fun, and don’t feel so damn guilty all the time. Take time to think about what you want, and don’t be angry at yourself when you don’t figure it out right away. Think about being a kid and what you loved to do, and do that. Stop drawing only trees, though. Some of them are okay, yeah, but give yourself more credit and move onto something else.
Advice for Devon at age twenty-four:
Don’t listen to people who try and convince you that you’re unkind. You are very kind. Scattered, and pretty self-involved, but whatever, you’re twenty-four.
Advice for Devon at age twenty-five:
Yes, they are good people. The best people. Keep them around. Forget about those other ones, but be polite. The world isn’t as big as you think.
Advice for Devon at age twenty-eight:
Vacuum more often and go outside to do more than sit on patios. Speak up for yourself. Being polite isn’t always being kind. Stop regretting the things you didn’t say at your wedding. Start making to-do lists. Figure out a way to remember to make to-do lists. Attempt to publish a blog post with fewer than forty-nine edits. Stop feeling guilty about everything. Be a better friend and spend time with more women. Be kinder to your husband and your cat. Try harder to to distinguish sadness from anger. Give more. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Say goodbye if you’re given the chance. Paint more. I know, but find the time. It’s important.
Don’t be so afraid to share things with the internet.
Learning to Love You More is both a web site and series of non-web presentations comprised of work made by the general public in response to assignments given by artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher. Yuri Ono designed and managed the web site. Participants accepted an assignment, completed it by following the simple but specific instructions, sent in the required report (photograph, text, video, etc), and their work got posted on-line. Like a recipe, meditation practice, or familiar song, the prescriptive nature of these assignments was intended to guide people towards their own experience.
Learning to Love you more stopped accepting submissions in May 2009, but you can still view the assignments and submissions in their archive.