All week long, I look for . . .
And then on Fridays? I report back!
A while back now, a couple of years ago or so (still deep in the Before Times, for sure), I stumbled onto Maggie Smith's Instagram feed. Every day back then, she was posting a short inspirational "reminder" to herself to . . . keep moving. It turns out she was going through a divorce, and her life was in total upheaval and nothing felt right for her anymore. So she started writing notes to herself each day (she calls them affirmations, encouragements, self-directives, goals) and posting them on social media. The words at the end of each of these notes to herself? Keep Moving.
I looked forward to seeing Maggie's daily posts. Her "notes-to-self" were much more than advice to someone grieving a marriage and trying to figure out how to keep moving through that slog. Her notes were absolutely universal -- encouraging anyone, all of us, to keep moving whenever we are stuck or alone or worn out or going through our own transformations. (And this was back in the Before Times! Remember . . . we used to feel stuck even before the pandemic.) (I forget this sometimes.)
I started taking screen shots of Maggie's Instagram posts to save for myself. I created a little "album" in my phone to store them, so I could dip in and re-read them for a little shot of inspiration whenever I needed one. I shared a lot of them with my daughter, who was working through something at the time. I shared them with friends. And then the pandemic came, and Maggie's notes took on a whole new level of meaning and motivation for me, as I really needed a reminder to . . . keep moving.
I planned to create some sort of journal or "book" for myself full of Maggie's reminders, eventually. But then . . . I didn't have to!
Because Maggie's daily notes became so universally inspirational (turns out I wasn't the only one screen-shotting them every day), she was ultimately able to collect them up and publish them in a book!
The book - Keep Moving - came out earlier this month, a couple of weeks ago. It's the kind of book that you can sit down and read in one sitting (if you have an hour). It's also the kind of book you can just . . . open up randomly and find a just-right inspiration for that moment (which is how I usually read poetry books, by the way).
Keep Moving . . . is all about hope! There is hope on every single page! Here is what Maggie has to say about hope in one of her opening essays . . .
"I began writing a goal for myself each day, even when I was struggling and optimism felt less than natural. What kept me going was the idea that hope begets hope, and that practicing hope and courage on a daily basis might help me arrive at that better place. Yes, there is an element of fake it until you make it to being hopeful in a time of crisis. But why not? Perhaps when we try hope on for size, it may not fit at first -- it may hang on us, several sizes too big -- but if we keep wearing it, we will grow into it."
--- Maggie Smith, Keep Moving
Hope begets hope.
Fake it until you make it.
If we keep wearing it, we will grow into it.
Yes. That's it, really, isn't it? Do you want to peek inside with me?
Here are some concluding words about hope from Maggie in one of her final essays . . .
"Today I think of myself as a 'recovering pessimist.' I know that optimism is not at odds with wisdom. It's quite the opposite. I think of cynicism as cool but lazy, while hope is desperately uncool -- it has sweaty palms and an earnest smile on its face. What I know to be true is that one hopeful person will accomplish more than a hundred cynics. Why? Because the hopeful person will try."
--- Maggie Smith, Keep Moving
In these disturbing days, let's not give up on hope, my friends.
Let's even be desperately uncool about it.
Faking it until we make it.
My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.)
And - hey! You don't think I could leave this post without sharing a Maggie Smith poem, do you???
What is the future?
Everything that hasn't happened yet, the future
is tomorrow and next year and when you're old
but also in a minute or two, when I'm through
answering. The future is nothing I imagined
as a child: no jet packs, no conveyor-belt sidewalks,
no bell-jarred cities at the bottom of the sea.
The trick of the future is that it's empty,
a cup before you pour the water. The future
is a waiting cup, and for all it knows, you'll fill it
with milk instead. You're thirsty. Every minute
carries you forward, conveys you, into a space
you fill. I mean the future will be full of you.
It's one step beyond the step you're taking now.
What you'll say next until you say it.
Today's poem was published in Good Bones by Maggie Smith, 2017, Tupelo Press. (It also appears in Keep Moving by Maggie Smith, 2020, Simon & Schuster, Inc. Information about the poet can be found here.