Tapping into sources of inspiration keeps me motivated to stay engaged. There are celebrity intellectuals and historical events, art and video at our fingertips to remind us why we care. But there are also people made of magic right in your own circle–people you know intimately.
My mentor-turned-friend/sister Dr. Patty brought that magic to her communities every day. She taught me how “what’s personal is political.” She instilled in hundreds, probably thousands of students that service is our rent for living. She built communities and broke bread. She integrated play into her life, and she laughed a lot. Patty knew how to hold people accountable and still show them love. She celebrated the accomplishments of her urban family members every chance she got.
Keep these sources of inspiration close. Learn what’s worked for them and see if any of those practices feel right for you too. It’s not about trying to become them, or even compare yourself to them.
Remember that magic makers aren’t invincible. They need to be seen and supported, too. As in any relationship, you won’t always understand each other but you can still stand by their side. Show up and be a part of these forces in your life.
It’s been a little over a year since Patty left this plane. I met her just over ten years ago. She invited me to enroll in her Women in Civic Engagement class, and I finally had my own intimate community on Ohio State’s giant campus. In those years Patty showed me how everyone has the capacity to pay their rent for living–you don’t need to be a celebrity status organizer to have an impact.
Remember the magic makers who have gotten you this far. Your mentors, teachers, gurus, family members who do what’s right. Turn their lessons into action. Is there any better way to honor someone than with acts of service?