In this podcast (episode #277) and blog, I speak with artist, poet, storyteller and best-selling author Morgan Harper Nichols about how art and poetry can help us process life and all its challenges, and the beautiful reality of how far each of us have come in our own lives.
As Morgan describes in a poem in her incredible book, How Far You Have Come, there is often joy on the other side of an experience, but how you get there may start in the trenches. Failure, sadness and joy are not mutually exclusive.
In life, like on a map, often there is no “finish line”. Sometimes you take a journey and you end up somewhere, and sometimes you go somewhere else. You can learn something from every place on the road—every part of the journey matters.
If, on this journey, you start to feel uninspired to create, remember that you don’t have to. It is just as important to listen and engage with the world around you as to add to it. Morgan says we should welcome these uninspired moments as moments to simply “be”. Be gentle with yourself. Take time to take things in. Let the quiet moments fill you up. Let them be enough. Wherever you are in your life, have grace, not just for others, but for yourself too. It is okay not to be productive or creative all the time. It is okay to just “be” when you feel at a loss or directionless.
You also don’t have to wait until you are happy to create things. As Morgan notes, when life is challenging, the very act of starting to create a piece of art or writing can help unlock something deep within you, which can grow and show you different parts of yourself on your journey. One of her favorite quotes is “I cannot tell you what will happen, but it will be different when the light pours in.” Take the time to see the light pour in, but give yourself grace while you wait.
The same can be said for the happy moments in life. Sometimes you don’t have the words for joy. Sometimes you just have to experience it… to sit with the joy and just “be”, and see where that takes you.