Change and transition seem to be my watchwords these days. Spring, the Covid vaccine and pivotal birthdays have been going on in my corner of the world, inspiring me to think about ritual, thresholds and what inspires real change.
All the more so after Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict here in the U.S. last week. It was a drop in the bucket, to be sure. But finally, a bit of accountability.
Let’s keep it coming, folks. We have so much work to do with Black Lives Matter, climate change, gun reform and anti-Asian violence, to name a few of the shifts we’re currently navigating. With biracial children and a Japanese American husband, the recent spate of anti-Asian violence has hit especially close to home. (See a list of anti-Asian violence resources here.)
All of which has got me thinking about what enables change and how much power we regular folks really have. After a long year of pandemic life, my energy and attention aren’t what they used to be and some days it feels easy to give up.
Apparently, I’m not alone: last week, Adam Grant wrote about languishing and feeling blah in the New York Times as a very real psychological effect of the pandemic.
Motivating Yourself to Write
So what motivates us? How do we stay connected to inspiration, heart, passion?
Grant suggests getting into a state of flow: “that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away.”
Writing does that for me. Dance, too. Being in nature.
(Click here to learn more about how to motivate yourself to write.)
What does it for you?
I’ve also been thinking about how much power one person really has. When the news is as dour as it’s been lately, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we’re ineffective.
But then I read this New York Times piece about Kati Kariko, the scientist who toiled in obscurity for years before her visionary mRNA research led to the breakthrough Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
And yet, for the bulk of her career, Kariko battled disbelief and a lack of funding. Like others ahead of their time, she was ridiculed by those in her industry.
Trusting Yourself and the Writing Process
Thank god she didn’t give up. Instead of letting the world tell her who she should be and what she should do, she stayed true to herself. And now we humans benefit from it.
For every star out there—for every Kariko who finally breaks through—there are thousands of us who continue to work without external acknowledgement. That can be tough, especially when we’re working on our creative projects at home, alone.
We need support. We need community. We need someone to champion us, remind us that we’re not alone, that our work matters.
But what if we were that person for ourselves?
That’s why I love this Amanda Gorman quote so much:
I think if I could go back in time and give myself a message, it would be to reiterate that my value as an artist doesn’t come from how much I create. I think that mindset is yoked to capitalism. Being an artist is about how and why you touch people’s lives, even if it’s one person. Even if that’s yourself, in the process of art-making.
Today, start there. Plant the seeds for your creative work. Let it support you. Let it inspire you.
For now, don’t worry about the outcome. Just play.
As Kariko said about her new found fame: who cares? “The bench is there, the science is good.” In other words, it’s the work that drives her, not the payoff.
Wishing you a wonderful week!