Sunday Selection 2020-08-30

It is the end of summer, temperatures here in Massachusetts are starting to cool (thankfully) and 2020 continues to be a toxic trash fire of a year (verging on landfill fire, as a friend of mine put it). Chadwick Boseman, star of movies such as Black Panther and 42 passed away on Friday. Black Panther is currently one of my favorite movies, and probably my favorite movie in the Marvel franchise. Boseman’s work has had an indelible positive impact on Black culture and representation and his time was cut entirely too short. So today’s edition is dedicated to him.

Ryan Coogler on Chadwick Boseman

There’s been a massive outpouring of condolences and mourning for Boseman on Twitter, as well as obituaries in places like the New York Times. But I found Ryan Coogler’s remembrance to the most heartfelt and poignant. A couple lines stood out to me: “He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year.” In a lot of ways, that’s the best we can ask for, isn’t?

Life Got Hard Again

Lately I’ve been struggling with the seemingly circular nature of the world. Things get better, and then they get worse, rinse repeat. This seems to happen on both historical and personal time scales. Life gets hard again, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make the most of it, or even find happiness and joy in the ups and downs (which is of course easier said than done). Pair this with Zadie Smith on optimism and despair: “Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive.”

Jeong Kwan, the Philosopher Chef

Last week I noted how the episode of Chef’s Table starring Jeong Kwan was one of my favorites of that show and one that I kept coming back to. In times of instability and difficulty (which seems to be always these days) I like to come back to something that she says towards the end of the episode: “You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to move freely in and out of your mind. This is being free.” Practice. Practice. Practice.

Chadwick Boseman’s Howard University 2018 Commencement Speech

This has been in my to-watch list forever and I’m a little ashamed that it took his death for me to actually watch. It’s pure gold, and it really drives home not just how good an actor he is, but how good he is at writing, speaking, thinking and observing, and metabolizing the world around him into art that benefits everyone.

Towards the end there’s a bit about purpose: “Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on this planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.” Like Boseman, I hope you take yourself seriously, live your purpose, and get into good trouble.