In times of dread
Artists must never choose to remain silent
This is precisely the time
When artists go to work
There is no time for despair,
No place for self-pity,
No need for silence, no room for fear
-Toni Morrison, The Pieces I Am
As everyday seems to begin with even more disparaging news, I shame-spiral into the ways I am inadequate, under-informed, lacking expertise to make a change.
Then a good friend and indelible artist , Lauren, sends me this Toni quote, which I haven’t looked at in months. I wake up with this today instead of horrifying headlines.
Toni Morrison’s house was lit on fire when she was a child by their landlord, because her parents couldn’t pay the rent. The indelible artist that sent me the quote has shape shifted her whole life, recently referring back to lessons from her first-grade teacher, reminding her that she’s not just an amazing teacher, choreographer, singer & female leader who is kind and humanistic at all times, but also a poet, too. It FLOWS. ALWAYS. When things are crazy-awful, I am reminded to retain integrity, like Toni’s parents did. Like Lauren can and does, channeling her childhood for that always-under-the-surface thing to bubble up and spring forth.
I cannot sit in pity or self-doubt. I cannot stew in the fields where I lack. I need to remember that what I have is enough – my artistry and my trust in the work to figure it out, to find the way, to make shit better, to focus on the process – its truly enough, more than enough, and the only action-item I have at my disposal ALL of the TIME.
Thanks, Toni. Thanks, Lauren. For reminding me of this.