Tony Morrison’s “Give Up!”
I have a crush on where your imagination can get you. I also have a crush on Toni Morrison, largely for her refined art of the simple sentences that slap you. This kind of writing startles you into productive awareness (ahem: aim for that in your college essay!).
Take this quote: “Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” (Song of Solomon)
Now, her statement may just seem obvious. You know– even elevators have weight maximums.
Given the choice between flying and, say, falling into a rut, most of us would choose to fly. Isn’t that one reason why you’re pursuing the path of (higher) education– to rise?
But to really do that, to be light enough, each of us is going to have to put down some part of our human load–“the shit that weighs you down.” And that takes imagination.
(By the way, did you think you needed those big vocabulary words in your college essay? Look again at Morrison’s cutting sentence– no big words to be found. “Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”)
Find the heaviest thing
Let’s turn this process into a creative one. The heaviest things we carry turn out to be the negative stuff we take to be true about ourselves, minor and major misguided beliefs that got into our systems at vulnerable moments.
This negative stuff stuck under the skin, sometimes very close to the bone. It gained mass.
Did someone call you fat in third grade and you never got over the sting?
Did someone scoff at a comment you made, so you super-glued your lips?
Did a parent fail to listen to your side of the story, and hold a long, unbudging grudge?
Did an institution refuse to see you?
Did a crush turn away?
The list goes on and on.
We’re all hard-wired for struggle, says vulnerability researcher Brene Brown (in her linked TED talk that has 4 jillion views). But that doesn’t mean we have to be our own oppressor.
That is, we don’t have to trap ourselves at the level of the struggle, or reduce ourselves to it. Even above the most epic struggle, there is sky. And what happens in that sky? You fly.
But how do you get there– to the sky, from where you can see a whole lot?
Like this: your imagination is your ladder, then it’s your wings, and then it’s the wind.
It takes imagination to “give up”
Writing exercise, folks.
Get a pen, get a paper, clear your throat.
It goes like this: name what weighs you down, know it, and release it.
Pinky-promise yourself that you’ll be honest.
Name one thing, right now– out loud or to the page– that with abrupt kindness (think: band-aid ripping) you would be willing to give up. (i.e that I am boring; that I am irrelevant; that my race matters more than my face…)
But it only really works if you listen.
Now put your pen to paper: why that thing? When did you first take on the load– what happened?
And, more to the point, why have you been carrying it around anyway? And for how long? And why are you ready to put it down now?
Write it all down. You don’t have to sound or look good. You just have to look.
And then use your imagination to write, with great specificity, how the future could be different.
Now, get this: we have no idea if this method really works 100% of the time. But it seems to help a lot.
Identifying, inquiring and imagining.
And the questions got you writing, which is (always) the point.
Need an actual eye or ear for your words?
Yay, we love helping people use their imaginations and give up what no longer needs to be carried! After all, we throw out (saturated) diapers from our imaginative baby all day long!
And what better way than through our loving attention to all the writing you just did? You deliver to our inbox, so we can deliver guidance back to yours. Simply type up your work and copy-paste it into the contact us text box. We’ll respond with pricing and take it from there.
Here’s to the lightness!