Look No Further

“It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.”

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

A year and a half ago, I found myself giving a presentation in Mexico on the subject of creativity within Cardistry. There was an accompanying slideshow of course (Cardistry is a visual art form, after all), and one of the slides read:

“You already have everything that you need.”

A year and a half later, I now find myself at the receiving end of that very same advice.

I’m an inspiration sponge. Everywhere I go, I yearn for novelty, curiosities, and intrigue. Back in college I developed a sore neck from visiting used bookstores and DVD shops, angling my head 90 degrees to read the spines of everything that was in stock, in the hopes of stumbling upon something new and exciting.

But now, with the pandemic, I haven’t the luxury of taking myself out for Artist Dates anymore (sorry, Mrs. Cameron).

Stuck at home for most of the time, I’ve found myself artistically starved for anything that’ll spark a new line of inquiry outside of refreshing my social media feeds and reddit, day after day. The days blurred into weeks, the weeks blurred into months, and with no sign of Covid easing down until at least next year or beyond, the thought of not being able to meet up with my friends, or going to see a movie in cinemas, or even attending Cardistry-Con — let alone any card/magic-related convention at that — for the next year or so had me at my wit’s end. With nothing significant to look forward to, life felt like waiting at the doctor’s office for your number to be called, except there was no digital board showing how long until it was your turn, and all you had to go off was knowing there were at least 50 other people already in the waiting room when you arrived.

This feeling of blah-ness was my default disposition for a while, until I recently decided to dig up one of my old hard drives on a whim and set aside some time to revisit the files on it.

One of the folders contained 2,700+ photos that I had dumped off of my phone in 2014 in order to free up space. I hadn’t reviewed these images for the entire 6-year period since, and over the course of two days, I went through them all, one-by-one.

And boy oh boy, was it a trip down memory lane. There were selfies of me with my family and friends at fun outings and vacations. Stupid, hilarious, and offensive memes that my twenty-something-self found funny enough to save. BTS photos of my time with The Virts working on Test Room, the SS14 photoshoots, and Air Time. Photos taken of/with significant others during happy, more carefree times. Pics of book and DVD covers to remind myself to check them out later (‘later’ being in 6 year’s time, apparently). Long-forgotten drafts of new flourish ideas and filmed practice of said moves. And lots and lots and lots of snapshots of delicious food (#asiangrace).

It was an incredibly nostalgia-inducing trip down memory lane, of course. But what impacted me the most upon going through this photo archive was that it reminded me of the things that used to matter the most to me, and of the person I was at the time. I found myself forwarding a few gems to my close friends, and those throwbacks allowed us to connect and reminisce on the good times with fondness in our hearts.

Living at home for extended periods of time, it’s easy to forget that we’re surrounded by a myriad of time capsules, all reminders from our past selves of things to check out when we have the time. And for those of us with less busy schedules due to the pandemic, this is a perfect time to revisit those little ideological, self-directed post cards that we’ve bookmarked for later.

Favorited videos on YouTube. Starred messages on Gmail. TV shows, films, and documentaries on our watch list. eBooks scattered across our download folder, and the physical ones that lie gathering dust on our bookshelves. Drawers full of mementos and memorabilia from our travels, even if it was just a trip to Daiso. And all the hundreds of webpages that we’ve bookmarked on our browsers, NSFW or otherwise.

You already have everything that you need.

All that’s left to do is to dig in.

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