By Katie Marshall
If you don’t know Tyler Knott Gregson’s name, you’ve definitely seen his work. His words and poems – composed in old school font on upside-down hotel paper or other scraps – no longer feel like seeing another bit of beauty on the Internet. They feel like seeing a best friend unexpectedly in public.
Tyler’s work is not read; it is realized. He has the ability to communicate honesty, heartbreak, longing, and heart-mending in a way that connects to the deepest parts of you. He writes the things we have always wanted to read. I suspect this is because he writes, always, what he wants to say. This week, Tyler kicks off a five-city tour to share his latest work, All The Words Are Yours. But for now, he is here to answer our 20 questions.
1. What is the most liberating thought you’ve ever had?
The most liberating thought I think I’ve ever had, is that I never have to impress a single living soul on this planet. That I never have to live up to any preconceived expectation, that I never have to be anything that doesn’t come naturally, and that the only thing that matters, is that I actively try to be the best version of myself, for myself, possible. That in order to do so, it all begins in compassion, for others, for myself, and for the world around me. Nothing is permanent, least of all we, so forgiveness and compassion are easy if we let them be.
2. What did it liberate you from?
The endless cycle of approval. Trying to be anything other than what you are is a trap that I feel too many people end up in. Trying to be someone else’s version of Enough is a cycle that is so challenging to get out of, and it snares so many people who in the process, lose the originality and uniqueness that sets them apart.
3. What does it mean to live a good life?
What an amazing question. I think that answer changes based on who is answering it, where it’s being answered, and probably the age of the person doing the answering, but it doesn’t have to be. All I can say is what I think is maybe the closest to everyone, and that is just to live for other people. A good life is one spent living for others, caring for, being compassionate and forgiving, and truly loving the people that wander into and out of our lives. I think when we do this, shifting the focus away from ourselves, in a million ways, we’re set free.
4. What illusion have you suffered from the most?
The illusion that simply caring for someone else, loving them, is enough to make them love themselves. It’s all we can do to start, truly, but people must choose it, and that’s a heartbreaking truth that goes unnoticed so often. We can only get people so far, and from there they have to go the rest of the way themselves, and it’s so hard to acknowledge that and to respect it, it’s so much easier to believe that if we just try harder, love more, give more, they will understand. Sometimes people don’t want to, sometimes they don’t know how. All we can do is try, and help them find their own feet to walk the rest of the way.
5. If you could go back and whisper in the ear of your 16-year-old self, what is the one thing you would tell them?
That every thing was going to be alright. That the things I was worried of, and wasted sleep and hours and tears and life over, would all smooth and settle and fade into the ether of memory. We make mountains of molehills at that age, naturally so, and it’d be amazing to have just a sliver more understanding.
6. What does love feel like? (Real love, not hormonal love or I-like-the-idea-of-you-so-I’m-on-a-high love).
It feels like caring infinitely more about the tiniest things of someone else, than the biggest things about yourself. It means putting someone else before you, in a healthy way, and not thinking twice in doing so. It means compassion and a readiness to forgive, because you cannot imagine a world without that person dancing around inside it. It is simple, and it feels like coming home, after being gone for so long.
7. What does your daily routine look like?
I think my life filters in and out of routine to be honest. I travel, a lot, and when I am doing that, I have no routine at all. I am kind of at the whim of wherever I am, whatever I am doing, and I have to make due with whatever things float into my little sphere of existence. When I am home, however, I tend to have lots of simple routines. Wake, quick breakfast, tea (all day tea), work, work out, watch the city outside my front windows, hang out with my dogs, eat, read, shower, read, read, sleep. All throughout that day, I am writing, randomly, sentences here and there, scattered through.
8. What’s your favorite thing to look at?
I don’t know if I have a favorite thing to look at, my eyes tend to just wander over everything, and then over again. I love looking out the front windows of my home, down into the valley below, at storms rising over the Western hills and settling in. I love looking at the faces of people I love, the eyes, and noticing all the colors. I love the sea. I could stare at it for hours.
9. Describe your perfect weekend.
Traveling. Simply. The where and the when doesn’t matter nearly as much as the who, and I certainly have people I love traveling with the very most. Just waking up with no agenda, no reservations, and completely winging it. Getting lost in a new place, map-less, and alive.
10. What do you worry about the most?
I don’t really feel like I worry about very much of anything at all anymore. Buddhism taught me that in life there are only two kinds of problems: Problems you can fix, and problems you cannot. If you can fix the problem at hand, what good is worrying? If you cannot, again, what good is worrying?
Worrying does nothing, ever, so I really don’t know what it’s function is, haha.
12. What brings you the most peace?
Understanding that everything has its time, and everything will pass. That we, all of us, and all the things we fear and love and worry of, are just passing through, and we are absolutely blessed for every single minute we’re given.
13. What is one of your favorite things that you’ve written so far?
I have a short line in a poem I wrote recently that I think kind of sums up exactly what I like to look for in the world…it said “The delicacy of an uncelebrated moment.” I think that’s what I chase, with all I write, photograph, and look for.
14. What is the most serendipitous thing that has ever happened to you?
Hands down almost getting eaten by 4 adult and 1 baby killer whale off the coast of New Zealand whilst surfing. The most magical experience of my life.
15. How did your biggest struggles become the pathways to your greatest success?
I would say honestly by never treating them as struggles, but just little learning experiences. Every silly mistake I’ve ever made has taught me how to not make it again, how to do it better, how to do it right. I think struggle filled hours are more valuable than easy ones by a landslide.
16. What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
I sit up and look out the window behind my bed into the forest behind my house. I look for animals. Every single morning.
17. What do you wish you had more of in your life?
Time. There’s never enough of it lately to do all I wish to do. I go to bed exhausted from full days trying to fit so many things in. Every second is so precious.
18. What do you find to be the most genuinely beautiful thing in the world?
Unannounced and unnoticed kindnesses between two people. Any two, anywhere, as long as it’s honest and real. I love watching people be kind to one another when they have no idea they are being seen. Uncelebrated kindnesses for no other reason than the person they are giving it to. I love it. So much.
19. If you could be free of one thought or fear, what would it be?
None really. They all shape me into who I am right now, I think they are all equally important.
20. If you had the chance to tell every single person in the world just one thing, what would it be?
That there are miracles hiding absolutely everywhere, EVERYWHERE, and that the things we mistake for being the simplest, are often most filled with magic. That we can control the people we are and the days we have and the outlook we carry. That it’s worth it, waking up, it’s so very worth it.