How much does being inspired actually lead to action? How long does it take for the flame – that on rare (or multiple if you are a creative god) occasions lights within us – to slowly peter out as we passively let an idea float away?
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a Tedx Talk in Berlin, the subject of which was “Chances. Challenges. Changes.” As I often do I rocked up not having a clue what I’d actually signed up for. Nonetheless I was expecting to be uplifted spiritually and intellectually as I usually am by the numerous Ted talks I watch (which I convince myself are as valuable, if not more, than making my brain work). I was, of course, right. (As usual.)
The afternoon revolved around Africa as the continent of the future, animated by some very interesting speakers. The one that struck me the most, however, was the one in the video below. (I even feature in it, exciting.)
The first 8 minutes make one feel pretty uncomfortable (see: me at 5:15 min); it’s a pretty intense speech and not really a topic that I would be able to write about correspondingly. So I want to talk about what happened after 8:30 minutes, and how it made me feel.
But first a quick summary because no one ever watches the videos: FOLORUNSHO is an initiative started by Mallence Bart-Williams in her home country Sierra Leone, having finished studying Finance and Economics in the UK. She took in a group of young ‘gangsters’ from the Freetown slums, put them in school and helped them to create an identity and future for themselves through creation and art. They’ve sold their handmade trainers in famous shops like Colette in Paris and they exhibited at Art Basel in Miami in 2013. She stresses that they did it all themselves. In her words: “the absence of donation produces quality in a self-sufficient manner.I believe charity merely creates inferiority and dependancy” – SHARITY, not charity. She invites us to “change our perspective, own our vision of a brighter world. Never see lack. See abundance, always, everywhere. Don’t focus on problems, but on the solution. Remember our perception of any given situation is the only thing that determines the outcome.”
Needless to say, I was hooked and inspired and roused and motivated and excited and galvanised and moved and you get the picture. And in that moment, I swear I was infinite. LOL. Sorry. In that moment, I vowed I would actually do something to inspire myself and the people around me. So yes, ultimately to be like Emma Watson.
The classic surge of inspiration that I’m sure you’ve had many a time swept over me; in my head I was there, I’d arrived. But how often do we actually follow up on these actually pretty awesome feelings? Times where everything seems clear and easy. Montaigne once compared these moments to those of clarity, when you suddenly step into a brief opening in an otherwise dense forest. (Not 100% sure this is 100% applicable but I’m sure you’re impressed.)
And then you step back into the forest, and as you keep walking (obvious metaphor for life) the light slowly disappears behind you until you’re back in black. And just like this beautiful metaphor (sarcasm), I slowly let the idea slip to the back of my mind and finally let it go a couple of weeks later because it’s just “not relevant anymore” (quoting myself). This happens to me A LOT. In the past I’ve wanted to create an app to help people find a good spot to read, launch a babies clothes line, start roller-blading every Saturday morning, become a professional DJ, start saving money etc… none of which have ever happened. I have done a few things I’m proud of, for example starting a family (only joking Mummy!!!), but overall I’m prettttttyyyyyyy lazy.
I did however get round to writing this post (6 weeks later) so I guess that’s a good start.
Do you think there’s a balance to be struck between accepting that some things just won’t happen and being proactive when it comes to ‘tangible’ possibilities? Or would we all be more fulfilled if we were constantly roller-skating in self-designed baby clothes with decks strapped to our chest?
Also you can learn more about FOLORUNSHO here.