A couple of important things came to my attention yesterday, and I’ve been struggling to fit them together. The first is this amazing TED talk by Amanda Palmer, which pretty much exploded all over the Internet:
I was blown away by the radical trust she displays for her fans and the way she manages to connect in such a meaningful way, even as her popularity and celebrity continue to grow. From the point of view of creation and the making of art, and finding a way to make that art financially viable, it was inspiring and beautiful. And I believe it is real and true. That this actually works. That people really are this honest, and generous and caring.
But I also found the level of trust she talks about terrifying, and that crystalized when I read this post from Sarah Houghton. Because as much as I want to live full-time in Amanda Palmer’s world of radical trust and meaningful connection, I can’t quite reconcile that against the unbelievably creepy shit that happens to an intelligent, forward-thinking and dedicated woman who dares to educate and promote important discussion in her profession. The sad truth is, it’s a magnification of the stuff most women have to deal with at some point or other in their lives, but being more visible has made Sarah more of a target. It’s despicable on every level. And this is also real and true. People really are this petty, and mean, and creepy and unstable.
There’s more to this. At about 2:00 this morning I had tied multiple threads together in my head – discussions currently taking place in library land, events that happened months ago that relate even more now, reflections on Seth MacFarlane’s performance at the Oscars…it all made a lot of sense in the wee hours, but feels more muddled now. It’s going to take me some time to untangle all of it.
But for now I’m going to watch Amanda Palmer again, and hold on to that truth and beauty for as long as I can.
Today’s inspiration is one of my favorite poems by T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi. Click the link to hear it read by the man himself.
Two posts in two days – woohoo! Kicking ass in 2013!
A friend recently shared a brainpickings post on Facebook: How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love. I almost didn’t bother clicking through because I’m happy doing what I do and I’m really not searching for my purpose anymore. I’m so glad I did, though. There’s some great stuff in this post, and following the links led me to more great stuff, and now I’ve got lots of little inspirational thoughts kicking around in my brain. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the original post:
One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. And we also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising to marketing, etcetera. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves. What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.
-Alain de Botton
So true! I think about this a lot as I move up the career ladder – am I doing this because it is what I really want, or is it just the obvious next step and I feel somehow obligated to take it? Promotions are great, but only if they get you closer to the things you really want to be doing. The quote above reminded me of one of my all-time favorites, from Robert Louis Stevenson:
To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.
So here’s to defining success on your own terms, and not killing your soul.
I don’t do resolutions – they seem like a set-up for failure, and who needs that? But I do love to take some time around the end of one year and the beginning of the next and reflect, evaluate, and set goals for the future. One of the things I’m thinking about for this year is being mindful of my “inputs.” I’ve really seen in recent years how the things I consume (food, books, tv, etc) affect me in both positive and negative ways.
I think I noticed this especially last year because it was an election year. It’s important to me to stay informed, and during election season I generally ramp up the amount of political reading I do, but I found I had to be very careful as it’s so easy (especially with politics) to tip towards the negative and cynical and that’s not who I want to be. And I did very little blogging last year because I didn’t have time to keep up with the reading that helps me post things that are positive and thoughtful, and it was too tempting to use my blog as just a place to vent my frustrations. Garbage in, garbage out, right?
As I said, I’m not going to make any rules or resolutions about this. I know that as soon as I decide I will stop eating fried food, say, or watching junk TV, that’s all I will want to do. So as I move forward into 2013 one of my goals is t0 actively seek out things that are good, things that feed my mind, body and soul in the best ways. Sure, I’ll still enjoy my junk food and escapist TV, but if I can minimize that by pursuing things of higher quality more often, then so much the better.
In that spirit, here’s something that inspired me today:
If we stay where we are, where we’re stuck, where we’re comfortable and safe, we die there. We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins. If you want to know only what you already know, you’re dying. You’re saying: Leave me alone; I don’t mind this little rathole. It’s warm and dry. Really, it’s fine.
When nothing new can get in, that’s death. When oxygen can’t find a way in, you die. But new is scary, and new can be disappointing, and confusing–we had this all figured out, and now we don’t.
New is life.
– Anne Lamott, from Help, Thanks, Wow: the Three Essential Prayers
I like to be comfortable – it’s my nature. But interestingly, most of the best things that have happened in my life happened when I stepped outside of my comfort zone and took a big risk. You would think by now the lesson would have sunk in, but I still have to remind myself of that on a regular basis. So, I’m giving myself a reminder with this quote today, and looking forward to stepping out into some new areas this year.
I’m getting ready to start a new job, and one of the things that is most exciting to me is the chance of a fresh start (can you say “inbox zero”?). It’s not that I want to scrap everything I’ve already done, but I always love being on the threshold of something new – it’s a chance to evaluate and say “How can I start off in the best possible way? What would I do differently going forward? What are the things I want to focus on?”
I want to make sure I don’t get so absorbed in my day to day tasks that I lose sight of the big picture. I want to make sure I ask for help when I need it, and not try to shoulder burdens alone out of some misguided sense of personal responsibility. I want to make sure I’m giving my team what they need to do their best work.
And I really want to find an organization system that works for me!
If anyone out there is still paying attention to this blog, leave me a comment and let me know what you’d do differently if you had a fresh start.
This is a nice, clear explanation of how libraries are getting short shrift as publishers try to negotiate the ebook marketplace.
I’ve been meaning to post this great quote from the movie Moneyball (transcribed to the best of my abilities):
I know you’re taking it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall, he always gets bloody. Always. This is threatening not just a way of doing business, but it’s, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. It really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, threatening their jobs. It’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s a government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people who are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch, they go batshit crazy.
A nearly universal reaction to change…