In other words, “don’t give up.” Today is MLK Day in the United States. A day we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. A man who, by the time of his assassination at the young age of 39 years old, became a civil rights pioneer and a leader in the fight against legalized segregation and discrimination against Black people. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his life’s work, and continues to inspire people around the world with his timeless words. The words I quoted above are from his speech to Spelman College in 1960. He was only 31 years old!
This quote resonates so much with me, because momentum is everything. It is very easy to get bogged down by a life’s obstacle and lose hope or confidence in yourself. Yet as soon as you start moving again, things start to happen. “A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.” That’s just physics, and we are all energy. The pandemic made everyone take a break, and it’s not a coincidence that it’s been more difficult for some to come back to the same level of energy as before. But don’t worry if you’re not as fast at bouncing back as others- everyone has their own timeline, and everyone has their own trajectory. So don’t give up. Keep moving.
For me, the pandemic was a surprisingly productive time (I accidentally starting a mask business from silk ties and starting a new job with a former employer), but it was also a time for intense self-reflection. When the mask business momentum started to die down, I started having thoughts like: have I really evolved at all in the past 5 years? And, was I more fearless in the past? Is everyone else moving ahead while I just stay in the same place? Ironically, although I spent a lot of time looking in, this critical point of view came from looking out: I am my biggest critic, and the only one standing in my way. There’s a Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne) quote that says “You are smarter than you think”, and I read somewhere else (probably on a sidewalk): “you’ll never be as smart as you want to be.” What we are and what we want are constantly at odds, and it seems like the goal is always out of reach. How do we balance this internal struggle? The part that causes the tension and the anxiety is the wanting . So get rid of the wanting. Stop the wanting and embrace who you are.
Easy to say, isn’t it? It’s another way of saying “let go”. If you’ve been following my writing, you’ll notice I haven’t written in a while. I stopped because I lost my motivation- I lost my momentum. What I had been saying seemed to be meaningless, and the subsequent posts after 2016 were a series of starts and stops. Should I continue writing about art? I just wanted to write about inspiration and something meaningful. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized these sentiments have everything to do with art. Because art is the translation of human experiences. Creating it is a release, and a way to make sense of emotions. Collecting it is a glimpse into another world and another person’s perspective.
I create art, because it is my voice. I curate and write about art, because I love helping other artists tell their story, and I’m good at it (because I love it). I collect art, because together, the art makes up part of my story.
What is your story?