One of the hazards of our time is information overload, which results not only in dangerous overwhelm and “compassion fatigue,” but also in what might be called creative passivity.
Because there’s always another great article or book to read, another film to watch, another podcast to listen to; always another song coming up on Pandora or another absorbing post on Facebook; because the stream of content coming at us never ceases, we are able, and even encouraged, to simply become passive consumers of other people’s creative work.
I’ll never write as well as Margaret Atwood. I’ll never photograph as well as Annie Liebovitz. What do I have to offer that isn’t already being done by someone else, so much better? And so we sit back and watch, relinquishing our human birthright as creative beings.
We humans are hardwired to be curious, innovative, problem-solving, empathetic, discerning and contemplative. Expressing our thoughts and feelings about the world and our place in it—that is, being creative—comes naturally to us.
When we turn off our creative expression, resigning ourselves to becoming passive consumers of others’ ideas and artistry, we shut down our connection to a deep source of inner wisdom, joy and power. This can lead to our becoming numb, shallow, depressed, cynical. Multiplied over an entire society, you get the kind of gray conformity so eloquently expressed in chilling dystopias from George Orwell’s 1984 to Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451.
Just as each of us has a unique thumbprint, each of us has a unique perspective on the world, a combination of our heritage (cultural, biological and epigenetic) and our own life experiences and education. No two people see the same object or event the same way, which is why no two of us could ever write the same poem.
And that is precisely why each of us can and should nurture our inner artist, giving our creativity the space and the encouragement it needs to bloom and grow.
That’s where Fired Up! comes in.
Fired Up! exists not to add to the general information overload, but to encourage the creator in all of us.
We hope to encourage you to make a date with yourself, every day or every week or as often as you can, to turn off the radio/TV/internet/phone and pay attention to your own creative voice and vision.
At Fired Up! we want to know: What do you care about? What makes your heart sing or your blood boil?
Whether you express your passion in words or visual images, in music or in film—whether you’re filled with awe at the majesty of a sunrise, consumed with rage at an injustice or grieving for all the suffering in the world—sharing your vision opens up the possibility of making connections with others who share your sensibilities, and creates the potential for ripples of action to move out into the world.
Each of us has a role to play in the unfolding of our historical moment, day by day. We are all being called to step up to the multiple challenges of our time and, as the great activist Wangari Maathai said, do the best we can with what we have.
Go feed your creative fires. And then come back and share your vision with all of us here at Fired Up!
JENNIFER BROWDY, a professor of comparative literature, gender and media studies at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, is the editor of three volumes of women’s writing from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and North America, as well as the environmental memoir What I Forgot…And Why I Remembered, and a writer’s guide to purposeful memoir (see more about her books here). Through her community organizing, writing workshops and author coaching, she works to strengthen the voices and visions of women, for the benefit of all. On her blog, Transition Times, she has been “writing to right the world” since 2011. She also writes a blog specifically for memoirists, Writing Life.
JANA LAIZ is the author of the triple award-winning novel, Weeping Under This Same Moon; Moonbeam Silver Medal Winner The Twelfth Stone; Elephants of the Tsunami; the co-author of “A Free Woman On God’s Earth, The True Story of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, The Slave Who Won Her Freedom,” soon to be a feature film; Thomas & Autumn; Simon Says ~ Tails Told By The Red Lion Inn Ambassador; and Billy Budd in the Breadbox, The Story of Herman Melville & Eleanor. A former refugee resettlement counselor and ESL teacher, Jana believes that honoring diversity can change the world. She is passionate about our beautiful planet and endeavors to make a difference in the world through her writing. She is the very first Writer-In-Residence at Herman Melville’s beloved Arrowhead. Her new book Blanket of Stars will be out soon. She lives in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.