Zadie Smith is a brilliant writer distinguished by both her accessible prose and astute observations of the human condition. Reading her slender, new volume of six essays called “Intimations” – all written during the pandemic – is like having a conversation with a friend as you go through a difficult time. It is a salve of words.
Among her many gifts is humility. At one point she acknowledges a basic conceit of all writers. The desire to write of themselves as they wish to be – not as they are. It was a sentiment that rang true.
To read these morning notes might give one the impression that I am more principled than I really am.
I fail as often, if not more, than I succeed in following my own advice and admonitions.
We are all prone to bouts of hypocrisy. To follow our values and principles one hundred percent of the time is impossible for us mortals. Bearing this in mind, it could seem prudent to not speak of our values at all – for fear of others judging us by our own high standards.
Yet there is the possibility that by speaking and sharing our values we lift ourselves and maybe even others. We speak our best selves into existence.
Research has long shown that sharing our goals and aspirations with others is a key determinant as to whether we will achieve them. So too, it seems, would be true of our values and our principles.
Recently, I watched a talk by adrienne maree brown, who said “What we pay attention to grows.” Speaking our values, writing about our principles, sharing what we believe with others are all ways to focus our attention to what makes us who we are.
What kind of conversations are you having these days – either online or in person? Are they reflective of what you value or that part of you that you wish to grow?
Actions undoubtedly speak louder than words. But it is often the speaking that makes the first sound.