This short video was sent to me by my friend Julia (who found it through Nancy Zafris and the Kenyon Review Novel Workshop) and it’s brilliant:
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In college I was a design minor, and as such, I was always trying to be as cool and artistic and fashionable as the design majors around me. I failed, miserably, but like the baby sister, I felt special enough just tagging along and being included.
One of my more memorable tag-along experiences was a talk by designer James Victore. He had a raspy voice and a no-nonsense philosophy. He was honest and inspiring and funny. At the end he gave out posters that he had designed, and I took my favorite one home. It currently hangs on my bedroom wall.
Six years later, he’s on YouTube. Every Tuesday he answers questions about the creative life, using that same raspy voice and no-nonsense mentality. There are 33 (brief) videos so far, and I caught up on all of them yesterday. Here are a few highlights:
”Success doesn’t always look like what it looks like on the menu.”
“Part one of Inspiration is Work.”
”Stop asking permission.”
“Your work is a gift. And if you start thinking like this, start believing this, it actually changes your attitude about your work. And it radically changes what you create.”
“Complaining is not conversation.”
“You’re not lost; you’re searching.”
“Jump, and make it beautiful.”
In keeping with my recent theme…
1. “Like the Video? I Wrote The Book” by Tim Kreider
I didn’t care for the opening, but the last 4 paragraphs really hit it home.
If you’re a writer, you hang all kinds of adolescent hopes on the release of your book: that it will prove you to be a serious person, retroactively validate all those years of what might’ve looked to uninformed observers like indolence and drink. Your enemies will gnash their teeth, your exes will all be sorry and at last the long-awaited literary groupies will flock. You’ll see someone on the subway reading your book, and your real life will finally begin. But now that that long-anticipated day is almost here, after all that work and longing and postponed reward, I find myself unexpectedly missing the hard part, the boring part, the long slog to get here.
2. “Make Good Art” by Neil Gaiman
You. Must. Watch this.
Highlights: finding your voice, the 3 rules of freelancing, making art for money vs. making art for yourself, inventing your own rules, pretending to be wise.
First, I want to thank everyone for your messages of encouragement and support regarding last week’s post. I think downs are just as natural as ups, and that was my point: Sometimes life is overwhelming, and that’s okay. We don’t have to be ashamed of it, we don’t have to hide it. That said, it’s much easier to bear when you have such great people in your life cheering you on. Thank you all.
Second, I want to talk about the US women’s soccer team. If you’re like most people in America, you may have no idea that the Women’s World Cup is going on right now, and that the US is in the playoffs. But it is, and they are.
Yesterday they played Brazil in the first elimination round. Meaning you lose, you go home. And for half the game, it looked like the US women would be boarding a plane at the end of the night. Thanks to a red card (let’s not talk about the refereeing) the US was playing 10 people against Brazil’s 11. The odds were against them.
Somehow they hung on, though, and the regular 90-minute game ended in a 1-1 tie, which necessitated a 30-minute overtime. Brazil scored almost immediately, and I admit: I thought it was over then. As the minutes ticked away, so did my hope. One announcer even said this would go down as the US women’s team’s worst showing in World Cup history.
Then, with less than a minute to go, Megan Rapinoe kicked the ball to Abby Wambach, who headed it into the back right corner of the Brazilian net. The goal was so unbelievable, so exciting, so perfect, that I actually have tears in my eyes just writing about it now. I screamed, sending my poor dog flying off the couch, and I really think my heart stopped.
By tying the game up 2-2 in extra time, the US forced the match into Penalty Kicks. They made 5 out of 5 PKs. The Brazilian team did not.
The US’s mind-blowing comeback win not only revved me up for the rest of the night, it also reminded me that pressure can be a good thing. Sure, sometimes it’s intimidating, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. But sometimes it pushes us to work harder than ever before. Sometimes it brings out our best. Sometimes it makes us who we are.
I grew up on the water, but I didn’t always love it. As a girl I feared the crash of the waves, and the dreadful dip down into the sea. But I became older and braver (and my dad became a better sailor). The boat is now a happy place, an escape, an inner peace manifested. I look forward to being surrounded by blue of all different shades. I look forward to the rhythmic song of the waves, to the openness of the sky, to the cradling. Day or night, I feel a vastness around me. Within it I am not small, but exactly the right size.
I have never been a great swimmer. Once I nearly drowned at a beach in Valencia. I was with friends, but they had gotten ahead of me. Since then, I’ve been afraid to be in the back. What if the water tries to claim me again? What if no one notices until it’s too late?
But I refuse to live a fearful life, so I swim, and when I fall behind, I move forward as best I can.
There are sharks in the Galapagos. Yes, I refuse to live a fearful life, but still I felt the fear. Of blood and teeth and the Jaws theme song. Of becoming one of those unlikely statistics. Of losing a limb — or worse, a friend. Yes, I felt the fear.
Naturally, during our very first snorkel, we saw a shark nearby.
After a few electric heartbeats, it was fine. He didn’t come after me, he didn’t want my flesh. He didn’t even care that I was there, really. He was nothing to fear.
It’s easy to understand why we create fairytales about mermaids and lost cities under the sea. There’s so much life below the water, so much color and motion. There are stories to be told, and feelings to be felt. There is life and death and love and wonder and ruthlessness and cunning and loyalty.
When I saw a penguin swimming right beside me, I lost my breath entirely. I became a child. I watched, starry-eyed, and I giggled like I never do. I tried to keep up, tried to catch the little elf, but I have never been a good swimmer. So I let him dance in circles around me. I let myself live a little fairytale.