Greetings great encouragers,
Welcome to edition 002 of Intersections, my monthly missive that has been running for two straight months now. It’s nice to be here.
Starting really is the hard part; even more so with things that are close to the heart. Why is it that the things we care about most are also the ones we drag our heels on? Or…is it just me?
This is a question I’ve been wrestling with lately, as I struggle to get the creative boulder moving again after having lost momentum. All of our experiences have been so different throughout the pandemic but, taking a gauge from conversations sparked with newsletterees on the receiving end of Intersections 001, I can assuredly say that I am not alone in this.
Here are some words worth sharing from the elusive character that I will refer to from here on out as Reader #26:
Omicron really did a number on caring, thoughtful, and creative people I think. Now more than ever we should encourage each other. I keep thinking about how the start of the pandemic gave everyone this strange burst of caring and community, and I can’t help but think that’s what we need exactly at this moment in time. The ones who want no part in that can be exempt, but those who’ve fought through and persevered in their way still want to build something good. They/you deserve encouragement!
Wow. YES. Putting in effort to create something good despite momentum in the other direction is certainly exhausting, but it also is what’s needed if we’re ever going to shift things in a better direction. The pandemic has been a marathon that has worn down most if not all of us, but I do believe in the power of little actions to add up to big shifts.
Be the hope that you want to see in the world. It may sound like a cheesy throwaway quote that has been passed around on the internet since the digital Big Bang, but it also is a healthy modus operandi for living. I daresay we need to reclaim the gravitas of the statement.
In the face of so much cynicism and despair regarding the climate crisis and humanity’s other unsustainable systems, a positive action stands out all the more. Some people would call it foolish or futile, but I dare to hope that my actions can ripple outward - so that isn’t even about me, but rather the potential influence of me (and you, for that matter). A witnessed good act inspires others to consider a similar action themselves, which then can be witnessed by others and so on.
And when people do inevitably suck, I try to remind myself: be the hope that you want to see in the world. Try again.
Yes yes yes. I am encouraged, Reader #26 - well said.
But I must admit: writing for you is a challenge for me. It scares me for the very same reason that I care about it so much: it is deeply personal. And so sharing my writing feels a bit like an anxious nightmare where I find myself performing on a stage in my underpants. This whole process leaves me feeling rather exposed. There is certainly some lack of confidence/fear of screwing it up/showing too much of my heart that causes hesitation, no matter how nice the pair of underpants I put on in preparation might be.
Deadlines help. So does the accountability that comes with having an audience. Structure spurs me on and keeps from stalling in the process when uncertainty takes root. When it comes down to it, we need to trust if we’re ever going to try.
Because there will always be excuses: it’s not polished enough, people’s inboxes are already overflowing, or I don’t have the time to make good on a monthly commitment amidst the rest of life™. But after all the hand wringing and kvetching, they are just rationalizations. Nothing is perfect and, when I think of the writers and photographers I look up to most, the grit of their work gives it character that shines more than any polish would add.
In other words, it’s about showing up for the work. It is one thing to enter into the creative process as part of a job, but it is another thing entirely to drop into it as an exploration of a nascent idea. Yet, in leaning into these more open-ended efforts we can get to places we otherwise couldn’t have imagined.
Things are in flux these days, in my work life and outside my window. It is the nature of freelancing to have projects dominate one’s life until they suddenly end, and then new opportunities fill the space that opens up. In this messy in between, I listen with all of my body before choosing the next leap.
I look out the window:
Tentative cracks have cut their way through the river ice next to my home, shaking the frozen foundation that I spent a lot of time on this past winter. Now I stand on the shore, watching a red fox reclaim the thinning winter path with a confident, light trot.
The river swells overnight, reaching up muddy banks until it collapses backwards into itself. And then, with an unseen force incanted upon it by the overhead wings of birds pushing northward, it flows. Its swift current continues on its stalled journey towards the salty waters of the Hudson Bay.
Then, it snows again - false spring dashing the hopes of even the most experienced Winnipegger, for whom these seasonal teases are oft so familiar. It is a strange thing to stand in a snowstorm, staring into blankness, and hear seagulls crying above you; nonlinear, and curiously surreal in its unexpectedness.
The seasonal transitions of the river accompany my own and I am reminded that life does not stop when we do our work. It marches onward in an unsteady ebb and flow, integrating into who we are and all that we do whether we’re conscious of it or not. No path is linear, and so why get upset when it wavers? As long as we keep pressing forward, we are headed in the right direction.
Something special will be coming along with edition 003, an experiment of sorts I’ve been contemplating for a while now. Three years ago I went to Japan on a pilgrimage of sorts and I came home with a plethora of experience that I’ve been digesting since. I’m going to share it with you in a way that I’ve not tried before - so stay tuned for that!
For the moment however, I will relish in the simple satisfaction of hitting send.
Standing on this stage in my underpants,