I love motivation-porn. Give me 100 pictures of something epic (mountain peak, ocean, etc) with a bolded font overlaid on each one and I’ll consume them faster than I normally read anything. And it’s probably because of this rapid consumption that none of them truly stick with me. Sure I’ll get that surge of inspiration, but like any other junkie, I immediately just start looking for my next fix. The next one liner that will make me feel invincible!
But there are a few ‘one liners’ that do stick with me, and they didn’t come wrapped up in a thick black border or on top of an Instagram photo. No, these come from some new-to-me songs that have become cherished favorites, songs that on first listen don’t sound like your typical source of motivation, and defintily not the kind for prepping to run in a 5K. So I thought I’d share them with you, sans the Instagram photos. Warning, you won’t find anything below that will get you pumped for your fastest run, but hopefully these will help you get up and decide a run today is worth it!
“I guess you are afraid of what everyone is made of”
–St. Vincent, The Apocalypse Song
It should be noted that this song is actually not motivational at all. In fact, it’s pretty widely understood that this song is about sex. But hey, what’s wrong with distorting a little bit of art to get what you want out of it? This line resonates with me because I’ve recently become much more aware of the fear that shadows so many peoples’ actions, including my own.
Until recently I hadn’t noticed just how ubiquitous these fears are: the fear of failure, the fear of what awaits outside the comfort zone, and the fear that something will change. No one admits to these fears at first. But they’re there, that’s why they decided to change their major again, or to buy new shoes instead of the passport they’ve been meaning to get, or that their’s no point in networking with people. But the fear of change, that’s the hardest one to overcome. It’s the one that fuels the excuse generator and churns out disgusting muck such as “what’s the point?” or “definitly someday!” These are the excuses that bubble up just before success, just as it peaks over the horizon and the only action needed is one of initiation, but then convince you to back down. On the surface, you turn away because you’ve rationalized its futility, ironically telling yourself that “‘nothing will change either way,” but in reality, you’re backing down because you fear that this little bit of success will change something. And it will; it will show you what you’re made of.
“Damn you always treat me like a mountain, stranger.
Though I have never seen your shadows or fading lights.
I’m just a rock that you’ll be picking up through all your ages,
Always believing there’s a canyon for every blind…”
-The Tallest Man on Earth, Bright Lanterns
Much like all of his songs, Bright Lanterns requires several plays to get everything out of it. This song paints its own epic picture of the cycle that is mountain becoming a mole hill. The protagonist essentially wakes up, having forgotten that his previous challenge/mountain has led him the current one. He is unaware that this mountain, like the others, will also be climbed, becoming nothing more than another rock below his feet. “A vision of a mountain you say? So where did it go?” illustrates that the last challenge is effectively non-existent, especially compared to this one. It’s much more complex than that, and told beautifully, but my motivation comes from the mountain in this song.
Having taken it a bit literally, I always picture a never ending mountain with a series of plateaus looking like a stairway for a giant. The next plateau being so high up, that it appears to be its own separate mountain peak, but once you summit, you find yourself faced with yet another. What truly motivates me about this are the camps that I imagine at each plateau. A large field filled with tents, and houses, where others have settled in. This is where people build their comfort zones, staking their claim in a splendid meadow with a glorious view to remind them of how far they’ve climbed. From here, they too can see the top of the next mountain, and convince themselves there is nothing beyond it, so “what’s the point,” of climbing further. When I hear this song, I imagine myself standing at the base of the next ‘mountain,’ bags packed and ready to go. I’ve left a lot of friends in their respective plateaus, but I’m really excited about the fiends I’ll make further up.
What songs/movies/art gets you going? Are you tired of the meadow you’ve chosen? Of find yourself turning a blind eye to what you could be?