When the Work That Moves the World Forward is Made

During the winter of 1951-52, James Baldwin wrote Go Tell It On the Mountain on a Bessie Smith typewriter in Switzerland.

Georgia O’Keeffe painted “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” (which fetched $44.4 million at a 2014 auction) in 1932 on a canvas larger than was typical for her.

Summer 1977, David Bowie, Brian Eno, and Mr. Bowie’s band built chord progressions, overdubbing, and feedback loops into “Heroes” at a West Berlin recording studio.

Alvin Ailey choreographed “Revelations” in and around 1960, pulling from his “blood memories” of childhood in small town Texas.

Before winter 1951-52. Before the large canvas of 1932. Before summer 1977. Before Texas memories became 1960 movements. Before any of that, the world had no idea what was coming, had no idea that what it needed was being quietly made, stage left.

So now. In some basement, library carrel, coffee shop, laptop. On a yellow legal pad in Omaha, an iPhone in Bujagali, a canvas in Phnom Penh.

Now, in the world’s unassuming corners and crevices, hands are creating what tomorrow needs. (Let’s not forget: now is tomorrow’s before.) The art, ideas, work, human matter that will drive back our cynicism, make us feel less alone, move our souls forward is being made in these moments. Likely quietly. With little fanfare and a lot of doggedness. By so many hands and names around the globe.

Those hands need to be somebody’s. Those names need to be somebody’s.

So why not ours?

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