Over the past thirty-five years, public radio producer Jay Allison has accumulated a wealth of inspiration in his extensive audio archive of human experience. A personal hero of mine, he has brought innovative storytelling to the forefront of radio journalism. His new project, Transom.org, won the first Peabody Award ever given exclusively to a website. This site provides resources and community for young journalists, diarists, artists, and reporters by combining the power of the recorded spoken word and the internet. It also brings otherwise unheard stories to a broad audience.
I discovered this inspiring piece written by artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris on the Transom Review, a collection of written narratives on Transom.org. “Navigating Stuckness,” is an unashamed look at the journey Harris has taken to understand life’s meaning and the loss and gain of momentum in the long run. The story of his work is actually the story of his life. This may be one reason I found the piece so appealing. Our work is a direct reflection of our developing state.
“I thought about stuckness, and about where I lost the flow. I remembered other times in my life I’d been stuck, and how the stuckness always eventually passed. I thought how life is a lot like that fountain, with its columns of water moving up and down, and how the low points are actually thrilling because the high points are about to come back, and how the high points are actually terrifying, because the low points always come next.”
He started his artistic journey as many of us do, naive and romantic. Then he delves into deeper chapters/periods of artistic development. At each stage, learned truths of life propel him on to the next chapter and earmark each of his achievements. Until profoundly, he makes the simple decision to “become” less and enjoy “being” more.
It is comforting to know other people ask the same questions about a life’s work and get similar answers. It is also reassuring to know those answers sometimes take years to formulate into a clear vision.
“In the trade off between timeliness and timelessness, choose the latter. The zeitgeist rewards timeliness, but your soul rewards timelessness. Work on things that will last.”
Most of us can relate to the vulnerability, the ego, and search he describes. In the end, the wisdom gained from learning the hard way leaves us realizing we perhaps knew the purpose of our existence all along.
“Inside each of us is a little ten-year-old child, curious and pure, acting on impulse, not yet caring what other people think. Remember what you were doing at ten, and try to get back to doing that thing, incorporating everything you’ve learned along the way.
When I was ten, I was writing words and drawing pictures. Maybe that’s the path out of the stuckness.”
Read the full manifesto, “Navigating Stuckness.”