Anna Deveare Smith has been showing up a lot in my sphere these days. It started with a review I read of her book, Letters to A Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts for Actors, Performers, Writers, and Artists of Every Kind.
It’s not often I get teary-eyed at work, but the excerps from the book had me sniffling at my desk several minutes after break ended.
Smith showed up again in my Facebook newsfeed, when my darling and insanely talented friend, Monique M. Jones, posted a link to another passage from the book.
At this point, I had an empty Kleenex box and a burning desire to own this book. Fast forward twelve hours, and my partner Fey had surprised me with the Kindle version.
A single passage in her introduction did it for me, because it pretty much voices what I’ve been feeling all my life:
I am addressing you if you are interested in change, in social change, and if you see yourself, potentially, as one of the guardians of the human spirit. In fact, I’m not just addressing you; I am calling you out–asking you to make yourself visible. We need you here!
In this world, it is no longer enough to just live day to day, guided by marketing, public opinion, and the status quo. We live in a crowded, noisy, disheartened world. Those of us called to change have to be awake. We have to be authentic. We cannot just phone in our lives, waiting for other people to fix things.
We are those people we’re waiting for, or at least we need to be those people. We have to be the ones who are asking the hard questions, telling the truth, finding the solutions.
Dear heavens, we are THE GROWN-UPS now!
I know you may not want to hear this. I don’t really relish admitting that I’m a member of that oft-maligned and rarely appreciated group. I cherish my immaturity and all the wacky complications involved with that trait.
But I also know that I am present here in this place, in this time, and I’m called to do something to make a change.
Anna Deveare Smith gets it, and she’s put it down on paper. I can’t read her book quickly–there is too much crammed in to every page for me to process in a hurry. I am sure I will come back to it over and over during the next few weeks.
In the meantime, I ask you–are you awake? Are you called? Do you want to make the world a better place?
Because the time for idle spirits is long, long past.
Peace to you–Deb
P.S. You know the drill–share if you care!