My best friend is determined to catalogue the internet. Yep, the whole internet.
It's an insane task, and yet he perseveres. The process is somewhat murky but from what I have seen it goes something like this:
Don't have social media This stops him from being tempted to 'repost' or 'like' any of the internet as a strategy of archival. This would be too easy.
Have a thirst for knowledge, but be too busy to be able to invest time in learning That way when something interests you, saving it for the ever-present yet never-transpiring "later" is the best way to have that information without the upfront effort of learning it.
Print it all out and glue-stick it into a growing collection of visual diaries This part is where he loses me. Are there themes to each book? Are the pages numbered? How does he find anything again? These are all questions I don't want to ask for fear of the mental gymnastic involved in the explanation. Or, the even more exhausting answer, "I also don't know."
I don't necessarily support this process but I'm not condemning it either. I'm in the no-mans-land of being whelmed about it (not in Europe). However, when he sent me a text two days ago - a photograph of his stick-and-flick internet pages - this seemingly useless busywork proved itself fruitful.
"Remember these? :)" he said, and there on my phone were some texts I'd sent twelve months ago. Texts I had been thinking about only the day before, but that I thought I'd lost to the enormous scroll-up effort it would take for me to ever see them again.
The time of sending these texts had held a lot of tension for him, which sucks as a best friend who lives 900km away. In an effort to long-distance support my friend through a tough time, I took it upon myself to send him regular reminders of goodness.
I planned to make them daily, but inconsistency is the only thing I am consistent at so in the end, it was only six messages over two or three weeks.
At the time this seemed like a lacklustre show of friendship, but now I see that these were the few nudges he needed to get through each day without feeling hounded about not being positive enough. If truth be told, I have been called "too much" more than once in my life. Maybe the long-distance and my unsteady relationship with getting things done are what make for our superb friendship.
They ranged from a recipe for witches brew (his dog's wet nose; chocolate; long hugs) to a passing rescue boat to a story about walking through the woods. Each of them over-peppered with emojis.
Few though they may be, magic exists in those messages. Finding them now, while the world is collectively struggling, is fitting.
I won't share them all, as they were gifted to the intended audience and are no longer mine to share, but I have adopted one as a sort of life motto. The mushroom text.
Something about it just gets to me. When I wrote it I felt something, and when I re-read it I feel it just as strongly. Something heavy and warm and hopeful. It is in this messy feeling that I realise I wasn't just writing these supportive memos for my friend, but also for myself. Sometimes I wrote for 16-year-old me, sometimes for me the day I wrote them, and sometimes I unknowingly wrote them for the future me, which is actually me now.
This Philosophy of Mushroom covers two core tenets: good physical health primes your body for good mental health, and you have a support system even if it feels invisible right now.
Also, yes, I am aware that mushrooms don't have roots. I knew that when I wrote it but adding in a caveat about mycelium and how it functions as a root system but technically isn't one seemed to divert from the true purpose of the message. This imperfect-ness of cataloguing existence is also part of The Philosophy of Mushroom. The beginning about glue-sticks and printing out the internet doesn't seem so random now, does it? (See. Magic.)
I share this winding story and this eccentric friend and this cheesy text message with you because, although it may not be immediately obvious, this type of sporadic hopefulness is a core part of the BANGERS&MASH ideology. It really ticks all the boxes: support systems, mental health, adult friendships, playfulness, and saying what you mean because love is not a zero-sum game.
Yeah, we're silly and we take the piss a lot but at our core, we're a sisterhood* that comes together when the chips are down. And, boy, the chips are so down right now that it looks like the aftermath of a wild party.
If ever there was a time to step back from humour as a coping mechanism and put community support as our foot-forward message, this crazy time is it.
The serendipity of the messages being on both our minds gives strength to the idea that we are all connected by something invisible. We are each a mushroom - individuals standing resolute on our own - yet beneath the surface we are connected by something that cannot be properly categorized. But, like the filling of visual diaries, or the writing of this article, or the sending of texts about goodness, it is very BANGERS&MASH to never stop trying.
We'll be posting more of these "mushroom texts" on our IG - they don't warrant a full post here - and you can feel free to follow us, or just forward them on to someone who needs it. Things get rough for all of us and it can be hard to ask for help, so we're taking that step out of the process. There is love here & we want to share it freely.
By sharing ourselves, engaging with your selves, and doing so with a smile, we hope to expand our own root systems. We invite you to join us if being a mushroom sounds quite nice actually.
xx The Bangers
*A sisterhood that includes all genders. But "family" is a burdensome word and we'd already said community too many times. Oh, the imperfect-ness of cataloguing existence.