Do what you cannot

• 3 min read

Here we are. Another week spent in limbo. I feel like we’re living one super long day with an indefinite end in sight. So much so, that I almost forgot to send this because I forgot what day of the week it is.

I’m glad I remembered in the nick of time.

Here’s what I've been mulling.


Productive

“I had this fantastic conversation with Martin Scorsese, and he was talking about La Strada and he said, ‘I wish I could make a movie like that.’ I’m like, ‘You’ve made incredible movies, maestro.’ And he said, ‘I never made anything like that.’” - James Gray

My productive tip of the week? Create something ugly.

Last weekend, a family friend was kind enough to teach us the very basics of landscape painting.

This was the first time I lifted a brush since elementary school and I created something pretty ugly.

And honestly, I love that. I love that I created something ugly.

I love it because it’s something I’m working on. I’m reminding myself that everything, even art, is a skill. It reminds me to have a growth mindset, not a fixed one.

This is a term, Carol Dweck, a Stanford motivation researcher coined.

People with a fixed mindset are obsessed with proving themselves.

“Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?” - Carol Dweck

People with a growth mindset are more interested in learning than approval.

This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience. — Carol Dweck

I’m attempting to have a growth mindset about growth mindset. Because creating a growth mindset is itself a skill. So I’ve been practicing. Namely by creating ugly art.

Creating ugly art forces me to confront negative self-talk. It reminds me that to be good; I have to dare to be bad.

It challenges the belief that “I am a bad artist.” Because really…I’m only a bad artist, for now.

TLDR:

Do what you cannot. And as you keep doing it, you’ll weirdly find that eventually, you can. #LovetheSuck


Creative

“We were kids without fathers, so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history, and in a way, that was a gift. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves.” - Jay-Z

I’m starting a three-part series on How Kendrick Lamar will make you a better writer. I am going to obsessively listen to a new Kendrick album (GKMD, TPAB, Damn) every week. And every week, I will write a short post about what I learned. By the end of this series, you will learn 3 writing tips that will take your writing game to a whole nother level.

If you like Kendrick Lamar or want to become a better writer, I recommend checking it out.

I’ve written an introduction to the series here:

How Kendrick Lamar will make you a better writer


Human

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” —Zora Neale Hurston

Alex Danco wrote a fantastic piece in his newsletter (Click here) that I really recommend checking out.

It’s an insightful piece on how our shared COVID experience may turn into a strange spectator sport.

It’s one of the few COVID related articles that I think is actually worth reading.


Before you go, I wanted to leave you with one last thought.

Yesterday, some families in our community celebrated a small birthday social distancing style. We each drove our cars to the park and hung out six feet apart.

I was tired and stressed because of all the work I still had left to do. I went thinking that this would be a quick hi and bye. Because how can you really party in this current crisis?

I was wrong.

There were shots, loud music, and crazy dancing.

I didn’t feel like participating, just watching. I had been listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar for my essay (above). At that moment, I remembered one of my favorite lines from him.

“If I told you that a flower bloomed in a dark room, would you trust it?”

And as I sat on the trunk of my car watching everybody going crazy, well, I knew the answer.

After watching that, I don’t know how the answer could be anything but yes.

This is a temporary darkroom, but look out for the flowers. They’re still out there, blooming.

Talk to you next Sunday,

Pranav

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