The advice column has a quality to it that is of a person speaking directly to another person. That quality flows out of the form of it, that it is epistolary in form.
What I can do, even if I am not writing the column is I can still speak directly to you.
What I can do is to speak directly to you, the person who is seeing this. I may not be able to untangle entire lives in the time I have to write. But I can speak to you directly in this way.
This is a literary style. It can be defined by sentence type and word choice. And sound. It has a particular sound, this style of mine, how I write. It is also an intent, embodied in a literary style. The intent is to implore you to slow down and participate with me in a kind of breathing. That is, the slowness of these words is meant to say to you, slow down and breathe with me. Perhaps I am even trying to hypnotize you. I am saying slow down and read these words along with me. Slow down and contemplate our collective powerlessness, out of which grows great strength. I am saying, recognize with me that in this moment as I am writing I am picturing you reading we are together. There are no other worries. In this moment that you are able to read this, you are safe and protected. You are breathing. This won’t last forever. I will pass on and you will pass on and one day there won’t even be a trace of us here on this planet. We don’t know where we will be then. For some reason we are prevented from knowing this. Yet for right now if you are reading this everything is OK. Nothing is going on except that I am sitting in my room in the noise of the heater, with my cups and my crumpled napkins, my plate and my cellphone, my nails that need clipping and my keys and glasses case, my lamp, my stack of mail, and I am only doing this one thing.
I can think about that stack of mail and I can even feel the tension it causes when I think of it, but even that is somewhat under my control because I can return to this simple act of writing to you.
Next: I love you.