"E.B. White said that the role of the writer is to lift people up, not to lower them down, and I believe that’s the role of every journalist and artist and creator of culture."
This quote popped up in my reading this week, from a commencement speech giving by Brain Pickings creator, Maria Popova. It had me hooked immediately, as many of her weekly newsletter articles do, I read on with curiosity.
"Strive to be uncynical, to be a hope-giving force, to be a steward of substance. Choose to lift people up, not to lower them down — because it is a choice, always, and because in doing so you lift yourself up."
It's so true. And something I so easily forget. Why and how could I forget something so simple?So elemental? Because I was trained in the western world to be an ever busy, productive person where success is measured in amounts of money, stress or popularity. And now, thanks to the Internet, it's by going viral. Even if that means you laugh stupidly in your car wearing a Wookie mask.
Did you get enough likes, retweets, hearts or page views this week? How I ask you does this lift you up? Is this being a steward of substance and creativity?
Maria goes on to counsel graduating seniors, "Develop an inner barometer for your own value. Resist pageviews and likes and retweets and all those silly-sounding quantification metrics that will be obsolete within the decade. Don’t hang the stability of your soul on them. They can’t tell you how much your work counts for and to whom. They can’t tell you who you are and what you’re worth."
Bingo. No social media, no number of hits, and no number of sales can tell me what I'm really worth. No matter how much I've been taught to measure myself, by height, weight, grade point average, I Q test score, income, home or car or family size. This is not a one size fits all world. Especially art, writing and creativity.
Now, I don't know who or what or how my art lifts up the world. Maybe I'm never supposed to know. Maybe that's too much of a burden for me to carry. Maybe that's not the point anyway. The point is that I do it because it's important to me. In my heart. In my soul.
This is an ever expanding, all embracing, never-before imagined world around us.
And everyday, you and I get to wake up, breathe it in and live in whatever way lifts our souls up.