On a recent visit to the public library, The People Could Fly jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I knew the author, Virginia Hamilton, and the title was familiar, but one I’d not yet read.
It demanded to come home with me.
Today I cracked it open and was struck. The pictures and storytelling moved me. So much so I could see it – as dance. I could see the brilliant bodies of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater making these pictures. And flying.
Revelations is my favorite thing. This would give it a run for the money.
I’m currently adapting a children’s book into a play. But if I were born with different talents, I would adapt this for dance. If you have this talent, I invite you to interpret this piece for the world. It’s Black people dancing pain. Then dancing magic, freedom. Flying away.
This work moves me because I’m interested in helping adults tap into their imagination. I believe many problems in society are due to lack of imagination. Too many don’t believe in the possibilities of change. They think the way things are is the way they’ve always been, and subsequently, have to be.
But if you are imaginative, you know better.
We need more art in the world that forces people to reckon with possibility.
Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month. The competition, commonly hashtagged as #NaNoWriMo, encourages creative writers to draft 50,000 new words (a “novel”) in the month of November.
I’ve decided to participate this year, and I’ve set my own goal as I did when I wrote in 2013. My goal then was 30,000 words. Though that bar will be more difficult to accomplish this year, that’s my goal for 2015 as well. Yes, I create my own rules!
I’ve done more pre-work this year. Well, more isn’t saying much as I did none at all in the past. I’m very excited about my ideas in progress. They are a culmination of seeds long ago planted, and I can’t wait to tend to them.
Deciding on my project was a tug-of-war. The truth is, I can’t see an outlet for it. But believe it or not, that’s what made me truly press ahead with this idea and not another one. There’s no pressure to perform! There’s just fun and exploration! It’s an idea with themes, characters and conventions that are important to me, so I’m going to honor that inspiration and just write.
This has been the root of my most consistent acts of self-sabotage: worrying about the audience and the next steps instead of being true to my own ideas. Who’s gonna read it? Where might it go?
It doesn’t matter. I’m gonna read it and it’s going on the page.
It’s such an amazing feeling – freedom. Freedom from my own thoughts of limitation. Freedom from an old path. Freedom from what no longer serves me.
I’ve felt this freedom in recent days, swelling in a joyful crescendo this evening. To celebrate and reaffirm my recent decisions, I started tossing and recycling items long outdated. Tomorrow I get to cart them away.
There’s new space in my garage where anchors used to be. There’s new energy and mental clarity where there was once clutter and dread. It’s wonderful.
Even an individual at cross purposes with himself is certain to end in failure. Yet a hundred or even a thousand people can definitely attain their goal, if they are of one mind. ~Nichiren
Although many quote this passage from Many in Body, One in Mind to highlight the second half, I reference it most often for the first. More than once, I’ve found myself wavering about a decision. I have clear thoughts about where I want to go, but take steps at cross purposes with my own desires. It’s like stepping on the gas and the brake the at same time. You don’t go anywhere, and if you do, it’s a jerky, unpleasant experience.