Gotta Be More, Gotta Do More

“Laughing, crying, tumbling, mumbling,

Gotta do more, gotta be more.

Chaos screaming, chaos dreaming,

Gotta be more, gotta do more.”

That was the poem written by the character Nwanda, formerly known as Charlie, in the movie The Dead Poets Society. At some point, I will have to write at length about the impact this movie had on 16-year-old Hugh when I saw it in the theater. It tied together so many elements of my life and felt almost like a call to arms.

But back to that poem. And the recurring statement in lines 2 and 4, which Nwanda meant as criticism of the status quo, but which haunt me.

Gotta do more. Gotta be more.

I feel it in my bones, that refrain. The sense I am not doing enough. That even on days off work, I must be productive. I feel I should somehow find ways to monetize my hobbies to justify them. I even got into growing flowers not because they gave me joy but as a way to care for the pollinators. The joy, fortunately, came later.

It’s pervasive at times, this reluctance to relax. This drive to always be productive. To never turn off, and when you do, to feel guilty for it. And the fact that I do manage to monetize some of my hobbies and have 4 or 5 streams of income, many of which stem from things I find enjoyable for their own sake (such as writing), only provides negative reinforcement.

This weekend, I accomplished nothing. I mean, that is not actually true. I cut the grass, including the trimming. I preached Sunday morning, and so I spent a few hours preparing for that. But mostly, I sat on the couch. I read. I went for a long walk. I sat by my pond and watched the dragonflies dance.

It was marvelous. And I felt guilty about it the whole time. But I see it as a mark of progress that I did not allow the latter to keep me from the former.

I hope you got some rest this weekend.

Five things I thought were beautiful

Joni Mitchel playing the guitar again and singing at the Newport Folk Festival! I love everything about this – Brandi Carlisle supporting her, the backstory about how Joni literally had to teach herself to play again after her brain aneurysm, the faces of the other performers. I love it all.

Much art takes place on multiple levels. Is the Wizard of Oz just a brilliant novel, or is it also a political allegory? Or both? Likewise, Jonathan J Harris began a work titled In Fragments centered on his ancestral home, High Acres Farm in Shelburne, Vermont in 2015. His goal was to engage in 21 rituals over the following six years to prepare him and the land for the future. That’s level 1. But then, in his 12th ritual, he dug his own glass furnace and melted and blew a glass vessel that contained his dead mother’s ashes. In short, this is lovely all by itself.

19-year-old Prince doing an improv Jazz/Funk jam session with Bobby Z and Andrew Cymone. And Prince is on the keyboard! The word is overused, but Prince truly was a genius.

There may come a day I will tire of sharing quirky portraits of cats, but today is not that day.

Getty has a collection of over 30,000 photographs of Black history and culture. This is incredible and well tagged. So much goodness here.

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