What I Learned About Being an Artist

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Hi friends,

I usually release this newsletter on Monday but writing in the time of this pandemic, it’s tough man. I’ll keep up with the news and I can’t help but feel anxious and helpless to the point of inaction.

That’s when I chanced on Toni Morrison’s No Place for Self Pity, No Room for Fear. She penned this essay after the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush. She was talking to a friend about how depressed she felt at the time and how she wasn’t in the mood to write. Her friend then interrupted:

No! No, no, no! This is precisely the time when artists go to work—not when everything is fine, but in times of dread. That’s our job!

One of my biggest learnings these past few months is understanding what it means to be a writer, to be an artist. This is another lesson to add. The artist’s task, is to create art, especially in times of struggle.

It got me holistically thinking about what it means to me to be an artist. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Morrison’s piece served as a reminder to me that art, that writing is a form of therapy. Art heals our communities, but most importantly it heals us.

Now is the time for all artists, to get to work. Not to sit down and lament, but to create. Create businesses, create music, create stories.

Just create.

Stuff I enjoyed this week

No Place for Self Pity, No Room for Fear

Toni Morrison | Essay (5min)

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.

I referred to this piece above, but I think it’s worth adding here for emphasis. In the midst of this pandemic, this piece was exactly what I needed.

Diddy and his mentor Ray Dalio | Inside a Meeting

Ray Dalio | Video (25min)

Two titans of completely different fields. One in hip hop, the other in investing. Here, Diddy is the student. It’s fascinating to see him in this light. It doesn’t matter that he’s reached the pinnacle of hip hop and he’s the second richest rapper in the world behind Jay Z. He understands that there will always be something new to learn and someone else to learn from.

The Ride of a Lifetime

Robert Iger | Biography

Bob Iger was the CEO of Disney for 15 years. Under his leadership, Disney’s value has quintupled. This book details his journey from his beginnings at the bottom of the ladder at ABC to the top of one of the most storied brands in American history.

The Wuhan I Know

Laura Gao | Comic

The city of Wuhan is now infamous throughout the world. Laura Gao, a Product Manager at Twitter, created this comic strip to tell the story of her hometown.

Great Empty

The New York Times | Photography Project

A team of photographers scattered across the globe documented the quiet desolation of their cities during the pandemic. The photos they took are breathtaking. Here are three of my favorites:

Siam Reap, Cambodia, No visits to Angkor Wat, and no Pub Street toasts afterward.Siam Reap, Cambodia, No visits to Angkor Wat, and no Pub Street toasts afterward.

Los Angeles, An unchanging ocean, a barely recognizable beach in Santa Monica.Los Angeles, An unchanging ocean, a barely recognizable beach in Santa Monica.

Rome, The view from the Spanish Steps.Rome, The view from the Spanish Steps.

March 31, 2020 · Newsletter

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