ever since i can remember, rev, dr. martin luther king, jr has been a role model in my life. i remember spending summers by the pool reading his autobiography (which i desperately need to reread), and watching his numerous speeches on youube. (fun fact, the famous and ever-resounding 'i have a dream' speech was the first video i ever watched on youtube. *whispers to my younger self* ya done good kid)
in my house, growing up, mlk quotes were often printed out and stuck to the fridge. they were quoted and discussed over dinner. i was, and still am, endlessly inspired by his vibrant, eloquent words, and the rivers of truth that seemed to flow effortlessly through his rich, poetic speeches.
dr king, for me, is an icon of what it means to take a stand and to make a difference; to be the change you wish to see in the world.
throughout my career as a writer, and also a co-founder of a non-profit student organization, mlk inspired the methods to my madness. i don't think there's an area of our lives that we can't apply his wise and truth-drenched words to - in fact, the other day i reread a few of my favorite quotes by king, and began to realize how well his words could apply to even my creative projects.
these five stood out to me particularly:
1. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
this is so important to consider as a creative writer, or a creative in general: what does your craft bring to the table?? what is it giving to the world? your book, your music, that thing you make - what is it leaving your audience with?
don't just be another empty voice in an already (very) empty, echoing world; GIVE. do something for the hungry, lonely, hurting, searching, dreaming souls who are looking for HOPE. be that hope. you have fire in your hands: you can use it to destroy or to create light and warmth in someone's life. i made a video about this very topic not long ago: examine where your story, your art, your project takes your audience...what does it do for them? what does it give them?
2. "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice."
this one tags on perfectly to the one above it: what is your story or project communicating?
ultimately, no matter what you believe about yourself and the world, i think we can all agree that we need more justice and peace and love in the world. if your story or project is not fighting for these...then what is it fighting for? is it leaving your readers with hope and a resounding sense of truth? is it raising important questions and encouraging them to ask some of their own? or is it just...more noise?
find truth in your characters - weave hope into your stories: be a voice for something bigger, something hope-filled.
3. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
if you wait for the elements to be right, to see the big picture, to understand everything first? well, it's very unlikely that you'll ever more forward.
there's a blind faith to creativity - it's a trust fall. you have to believe that there's something inside you bigger than yourself - something that needs to come out, something that needs to be created, even if you don't know exactly how or when that's going to happen.
when i start a book, i do NOT know where it will take me, and i often have no idea where it will end...but to me, that's actually the beauty of it. that's part of the journey! take that first step you can see, trust that it will support you. you don't need to wait until you see the whole staircase.
4. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
small disappointments and set backs will happen - and they will be nothing on the scale of what dr. king is so bravely and eloquently addressing here.
as a creative, (and a living, breathing being in general) you will sometimes experience setbacks and hardships. setbacks can happen. flops can occur. someone can give you a one-star review and tell you that your baby is garbage. but guess what? literally none of these are justifiable reasons for you to EVER give up.
dr. king is a shining example of this, and this strong leader in the civil rights movement was dealing with infinitely larger and more intense setbacks than most of us will ever experience. so let his story inspire you...when you feel like you've been beaten down, bravely chose to stand back up. when your voice has been trod upon, boldly declare your message louder. which leads us to my favorite:
5. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
keep moving forward. keep moving forward. KEEP MOVING FORWARD. missed a deadline? keep moving forward. feel like the book is rubbish? keep moving forward. bad review? keep moving forward. someone verbally beats you down? keep moving forward. someone thinks you can't? scream from the MOUNTAINTOPS THAT YOU CAN, AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD.
remember this on the dark days. remember it on the good days too. never give up on yourself or the beautiful thing you feel passionate about creating. that passion is there for a reason. you are supported. you are here for such a big, beautiful purpose, and that desire inside of you is there for an equally sacred reason. so don't stop...keep moving forward, even if you're taking baby steps. every step is significant, every step matters.
i love this quote so much that i made a special printable of it, just for you. PRINT THAT OUT AND TAPE IT TO YOUR BATHROOM MIRROR. or to your fridge. or some place where you'll actually see it on the daily. (i'm going to put mine by my bench press me thinks)
|right click and open in a new tab to print!! :)|
okay, your turn: in honor of upcoming MLK jr day, what's your favorite of his quotes?? who is someone that you look up to and garner inspiration from? i would love to chat down in the comments. have a wonderful and restful weekend, rad soul!