Issue #143 / April 2021
Dear Mr Cave,
Do you ever suffer from self-doubt?
A girl was falling in love with me, and while she courted me, she shared a part of herself which was you. I had never heard your music before, and it struck me that you were like me – you and I were born within a 100km radius of one another. The young girl who loved me shared with me friendship, forgiveness, and a figure of alien greatness who at one time came from some place around here.
I now have two young sons Max and Joey. They enjoy listening to your music, they dance around the living room. Joey is an emotional lightning rod who feels the world more intensely than anyone I have ever met. Little Max cannot speak yet, but he sings, and when he smiles you can see clear through into his soul. One day when they are old enough to really understand, I will tell them that you came from here. I will tell them that they can aspire to be more than a person from a place, and maybe they will not end up like their father.
THOMAS, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
You sent this letter some time ago and I keep coming back to it, responding to its wonderfully precise and tender heart. I’ve read it to several people, including film director and friend, Andrew Dominik, who basically cried, as did my normally steely assistant, Rachel. It reads like a Raymond Carver story — lean and lovely and sad — a world in every line. I have received and read around forty thousand letters on The Red Hand Files and yours is perhaps my favourite. I am very happy that this letter was written by a guy from my hometown of Melbourne — that makes me proud.
Do I ever feel self-doubt? The answer is yes, very much so. My self-doubt tends to manifest itself in sudden, hot rushes of embarrassment, and usually emerges alongside a loss of playfulness or humour — or rather, when I start to take myself, and indeed life, too seriously. It seems to arise as a countering response to my own sense of self-importance. Self-doubt is common to us all, I suspect, and uncomfortable and unpleasant as it is, a certain amount can be the truest humanising force, keeping us humble, vulnerable, open-minded and connected to the world. But, of course, we need to remain vigilant and not allow our self-doubt to become compulsive — to imprison us, shut us down and make us incapable of forward movement. At these times, it is worth remembering that the world can be funny — as can we — and to not take ourselves too seriously.
But, Thomas, the main reason I am writing to you is to just say thank you for your letter, it is a superb thing, really, and something I will treasure. When I read it to Susie this morning she said, ‘What a lovely man.’ ‘Yeah, I know,’ I said ‘He’s from Melbourne.’