On Motivation


Hoop Dreams

Motivation is the fuel that drives us, the force that keeps us going. An inspiring experience – be it through education, travel or ordinary everyday life – chatting to a stranger, enjoying a nice work of art, watching great TV, celebrating the achievements of a role model – reminds us of what really matters, and renews our faith in the meaning and efficacy of our efforts.

Motivation can also come from negative experiences – from an act of injustice, from an experience of suffering, from a setting that we want to escape.

A third source of motivational fuel – which may in fact be the most potent – is those formative images, dreams, visions, routines or experiences of our childhood or youth that (usually subconsciously) became the leitmotifs of our adult aspirations and which we endlessly try to recreate. We may – probably will – never succeed, but the process of trying, and that hopeless and sad, but beautifully human journey is worth it.

Motivation requires a sense of urgency, a certain impatience for change, as we acknowledge and are emotionally affected by all those things in the world that must change right now, and that we can change right now. Working day after day, after day, to make a positive difference, no matter what the nature or scale of it, is the ultimate act of altruism and sacrifice (and requires an element of naivety and irrationality) – as we are in fact offering our precious time on earth, not just once but repeatedly, so as to produce something- a better world, a better future – a fairer system, more sustainable environments, more opportunities for more people, an improved quality of life, more flexible, adaptive and efficient systems – a body of artefacts, knowledge and interventions, the outcome of which we may never, in fact probably will never, actually get to experience ourselves. Against all odds. But we still do it anyway.

And by doing a little bit every day, we set in motion infinite chains of unseen events, moments and experiences for us but especially for others, here and now, elsewhere and in the future. Hoop dreams.


First posted on 16 October 2014
Photo: Ramsay Park, Roxbury, Boston, MA
© Roman Gerodimos