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Dr. Cornell West: Lessons from An Open Love Letter

Approximately 15 years ago, Wildly Creative co-founder Shanta Lee saw a poster for American social activist, author, philosopher, and intellectual Dr. Cornell West at Trinity College.  She did not attend that event but regretted not taking a chance to see him speak.  Just days before Valentine’s Day, last week on February 11, Shanta witnessed what she would call Dr. Cornelle West’s open love letter for the times.  These are a few of her insights as they relate to creativity and leading a wildly creative life.

Last Thursday, I saw Dr. Cornell West at Smith College and the earlier quote reflects my experience during that presentation.

While Dr. West said many things that resonated, one of the main threads was about a legacy of individuals (past, present, and future) he titled as Love Warriors. In reference to this particular group of individuals, Dr. Cornell West stated,

“What motivated these folks was such a profound love that they are close to the edge of their own lives…”
Cornell-West2
So what if we remembered that love was supposed to flow through all of our creative adventures?

While this may seem obvious, I want you to take a moment and think about that last time you had an encounter with creativity that felt or tasted like love flowed through it? When is the last time that you crafted (either a drawing, cooking, perhaps putting together an outfit, the architect of an event, or anything) and it felt like it flowed from the very core of love beyond anything else?

In a global marketplace that often feels like creativity must have a price tag or be purchased in order to have value…it is easy for the love to get lost.

There were many other sage moments and words from Dr. West’s speech, but a couple of statements stood out most of all,

“The condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak.”

“When you decide to be an activist, you decide to be on intimate terms with catastrophe.”

Going by the title of creative, one who crafts, or artist is also an invitation to contribute to the narrative of truth especially when suffering (either individual or communal) needs a canvas. In reference to the second quote form Dr West’s talk, living a creative life, especially in certain environments, can be considered an act of rebellion or activism. The creator or artist can take it a step further by choosing to make their work an illustration that invites us all to come to terms with the catastrophe that just is.

Will you choose to become intimate with catastrophe or use that which you create as a way of inviting others to do the same?   Most importantly, will you remember to let love pour through any and everything you create?