Hotel Emblem, San Francisco, California

Monday Minute #10

Let’s Earn Our Title

Scrolling through photographs on my phone, I paused at a shot I captured of words on the carpet outside my room at Hotel Emblem in San Francisco a year ago: “Protagonist, hero, muse. Earn your title.”

I looked up the meaning of each word.

Protagonist: A leading character. A main figure. An advocate or champion of a particular cause or idea. An active participant in an event.

Hero: One who shows great courage. A principal character in a literary work. Someone we admire. A person with nobility of purpose. A warrior.

Muse: A person who is a source of inspiration for someone else. A being, force, or power that ignites the spirit of writers, painters, musicians, and thinkers. A force of creativity.

These words imply action. Doing, moving, changing, growing, pushing, creating.

Not sitting, lamenting, procrastinating, criticizing, complaining.

Yes, we’re tired. We’re lonely. We’re sad. We’re frustrated. It’s okay to feel all these things. But then we must get up, stand up, and do something with this opportunity we’ve been handed.

I heard or read an expression within the past two months (I can’t remember exactly where or when) that gripped me so much that I wrote it in thick marker on a large hot pink Post-it and stuck it to my window.

“Be your own … muse.”

The original included an emphatic F-bomb that I reluctantly redacted here, but we can get creative with substitutions. Be your own powerful muse. Be your own thoughtful muse. Be your own kind muse. Be your own encouraging muse. Be your own energetic muse.

We get to write our own story as we navigate this experience. We are the leading characters — the protagonists, the heroes, the muses — of our own lives. We get to stoke the fires of possibility in our remaining days or weeks of lockdown, and then we get to decide the theme of our next act when we emerge.

What type of protagonist, or active participant in lockdown life, can we step up and be today? Can we be a hero — a warrior — for ourselves and someone else? Can we be our own muse, and summon a tornado of inner creative power to push ourselves in a different direction today?

Let’s decide what title we want to have when we surface from this experience. And let’s start earning it now.

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Introverted writer, law professor, traveler, New Yorker, novice boxer, U2 fan. Author of The Introverted Lawyer, and Untangling Fear in Lawyering.

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Heidi K. Brown

Heidi K. Brown

Introverted writer, law professor, traveler, New Yorker, novice boxer, U2 fan. Author of The Introverted Lawyer, and Untangling Fear in Lawyering.

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