May was, perhaps, about investment. We began it in Northern Ireland, investing in our relationships with family and old friends. We ended it on a beach on England’s South Coast, flying kites and investing in our own wellbeing as the world fell away, leaving only colourful kites dancing on the wind as the evening’s light faded.
The Future Library project planted 1,000 trees in 2014, and is inviting a different author every year between 2015 and 2114 to contribute an unread manuscript. In 2114 the trees will be cut down and the manuscripts printed on their paper, finally available to human eyes. I love and fear for this project, which is investing in future generations. The two participating authors so far are amongst my favourites. Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell have both conceived brilliant and terrifying visions of our future in previous novels. Futures where those trees would not have survived either the changes in climate or the strains on resources due to global challenges. I hope in this real world story, the trees will make it. Strange to think it’s unlikely I’ll ever never know.
I loved creative mentor Jen Carrington’s article on ‘The best non-financial investments I’ve made in my creative career so far’. Progress and achievement don’t just benefit from having money thrown at them; there is so much more required and we should value that properly. Amongst the eight investments, hard work, rest and grit particularly stood out for me. The first two because I’ve been thinking about how there’s no substitute for both, and that they shouldn’t be but can feel mutually exclusive. The last because I feel it’s an underused word and perhaps an undervalued trait. Bring back grit: courage and resolve; strength of character.
A complementary article is Violata Nedkova’s learning from her ’30 days of sucking’ experience: 30 days of trying a new creative outlet, with permission to be rubbish at it and documenting it along the way. I particularly liked the idea that courage can be learnt as we invest in our creativity. Let’s develop the habit of being brave.
I read issue 6 of Lionheart magazine cover-to-cover. It was everything I love about parts of the internet (the encouraging, thoughtful, creative, informative parts) but in paper form, making it even better. It was my travelling companion for a couple of weeks, leaving it marked and creased by its unifying theme: time.
We made progress this month on a few fronts to making our life a bit more sustainable. We are trying to reduce the single-use items in our home. Buying products to be reused means much less energy and fewer resources used in the long run. We’ve stopped using kitchen roll and invested in ten washable cloths, and sourced bin bags that will degrade much more quickly (all from Ethical Superstore). We’ve also been out in the garden, with tentative hopes for a bigger food crop this year. Even if it’s unsuccessful, we’ve invested in growing our knowledge and gardening skills for future years.
Progress begets progress, reminding me that change is achievable and spurring me on to keep making better choices for ourselves, other people (now and in the future) and the planet. Ultimately, that seems like a pretty good investment to me.
This is part of a monthly series on the things that spur me on to keep going with intentional living. What has spurred you on recently?
Today’s soundtrack: Urban Rescue // Wild Heart
3 thoughts on “May 2016: Spurred on by unread manuscripts and grit”
Wow, the Future Library Project is incredible on so many levels! The hope for — and trust in — the future; people contributing to a project they will never see come to fruition; the fact that, as you say, we will never know the outcome; the gift to future generations… In this fast-paced world I love things that take time to make — like brewing alcohol and growing fruit and vegetables. They require a little bit of effort, a lot of patience, and a lot of faith. A multi-generational project like this one — growing trees to print books in 100 years time — seems like the ultimate investment in the future. If only more of us looked hundreds (or even thousands) of years ahead when considering our impact on the world, the planet wouldn’t be in such a mess.
I know! Trusting future generations to be interested enough to complete it. Trusting ourselves not to scupper it before it gets that far. I love everything about it. So counter cultural in our world of the immediate. And you’re right, having that longer view helps us recognise our impact now. x
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