I don’t know if you know the Brain Pickings website. It’s pretty wonderful, right up there with Biblioklept, in my estimation. And Pixels, of course! Thank you to Barbara duBois for sending me a link to this article, which is a part a series on Brain Pickings, “The Greatest Commencement Speeches Of All Time.”
Here is an excerpt from her article:
Like Chuck Close (“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), E. B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”), and Tchaikovsky (“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”), Watterson speaks to the importance of work ethic and grit — but, like Freud, he places playfulness at the epicenter of creativity:
It’s surprising how hard we’ll work when the work is done just for ourselves. And with all due respect to John Stuart Mill, maybe utilitarianism is overrated. If I’ve learned one thing from being a cartoonist, it’s how important playing is to creativity and happiness. My job is essentially to come up with 365 ideas a year.
If you ever want to find out just how uninteresting you really are, get a job where the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood. I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness.
At school, new ideas are thrust at you every day. Out in the world, you’ll have to find the inner motivation to search for new ideas on your own. With any luck at all, you’ll never need to take an idea and squeeze a punchline out of it, but as bright, creative people, you’ll be called upon to generate ideas and solutions all your lives. Letting your mind play is the best way to solve problems.
A playful mind is inquisitive, and learning is fun. If you indulge your natural curiosity and retain a sense of fun in new experience, I think you’ll find it functions as a sort of shock absorber for the bumpy road ahead.
You can read the whole article here. I love how she includes so many links to other articles, whole synergistic systems of exploration and thought.
Here are a couple of quotes I particularly liked:
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.
To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
Reading those turgid philosophers here in these remote stone buildings may not get you a job, but if those books have forced you to ask yourself questions about what makes life truthful, purposeful, meaningful, and redeeming, you have the Swiss Army Knife of mental tools, and it’s going to come in handy all the time.
This comic strip struck home, as well. Reminded me of my dad.
And one more … I couldn’t resist … as a metaphor, this one struck close to home, too. :)