“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Flannery O’Connor
It came to me the other day, not exactly in a flash, somewhat tentatively, a flicker at first: most, if not all of my heroes were passive, not passive in the usual sense of disinterested and unengaged.
No, they were all very much engaged and present but not preoccupied by followers.
Maybe that is a better word: present. Each of them accepted their own souls. They lived into their names. They found themselves, as the saying goes and lived into that gift.
James Baldwin, Nelson Mandela, Jesus, Jean Michel Basquiat, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, John Coltrane, Gandhi, Thomas Merton to name a few. They wrote books, painted on walls or canvases, changed their minds, sat in prison, or on a bus, played an instrument, walked peacefully, prayed or submitted to a cruel death.
Curiously, by doing these “passive” things, by being present to themselves, they shifted the world.