Tuning In to Tune Out: Trying to Stay Inspired by New and Old Favorites

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Photo via The New York Times

I have found myself thinking a lot about the state of the world with all of my isolated downtime, and without trying to forget the reality we are globally living through right now, sometimes it can be refreshing to find a way to tune out for a bit and take the pressure off.

The falsehoods and alternate realities of movies and books breaks up the real world, and makes each passing day more slightly more bearable; so that’s the context for this column. Each week, instead of inundating my parents and friends (via zoom of course) with the plot of every new show, movie, or book I’m invested in, I decided to share it with you all. I’m hoping that I can either take your mind off things by writing about my top picks, and if that fails, maybe some of the shows, movies, or books I include will do a better job than me. For this week’s inaugural installation, we’re talking Alicia Keys new book, More Myself, and the many, many Little Women cast interviews procured on youtube to take your mind off things.

Now I have barely hit half way in Alicia Keys’ new book, but I can tell you it’s worth the read. As opposed to a really dense novel, More Myself feels like an inviting conversation, perfect for those not in the mood for something too intense. As an artist, Keys has always been so grounded in her music and herself, so for that to be on paper, and an experience we can interact with in a new way, is quite unique and much appreciated. If you want a good dose of reflection mixed in with a biography, her book will provide. I think the trend for my recommendations this week is taking some of what I’ve already known and loved, for instance the discography of Alicia Keys, and seeing it in a new light. It’s one thing to appreciate the work of an artist, or to really love their music, but to see their process and segments of their origin story in a book gives a whole new meaning to work you’ve already known and loved. I think now especially, if you have the energy to give to learn a little more about the things you already love, even if that’s not Alicia Keys for you, it’s a great time to glean some inspiration out of your favorite artists, whether that be through their music or their memoirs.

I am not breaking new ground in the entertainment industry by recommending that you check out interviews with the cast of your favorite movies, but I do think it’s a great way to see them outside of their characters, and learn a little more about movie making as an art. Also, this breaks up incessant binge watching, because they usually aren’t very long, and they keep you on your toes.

My Tuesday consisted exclusively of Little Women interviews, my favorite being an installation in Vanity Fair’s “Scene Breakdown” series. Greta Gerwig, Soirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, and Laura Dern all huddle around the scene following Amy’s meltdown in the Lawrence house. The intricacy of the scene is so fascinating to hear about from the point of view of the actors and the director, the labor of love is so obvious in the way they speak about the characters and the way the movie came together. I guess I had recognized movie making as an art, especially in a movie as beautiful as this one, but it really took this breakdown to understand the interworking parts which I hadn’t given much thought to. It’s inspiring to listen to people who are so talented and passionate about their work, and even if you aren’t a die hard Little Women fan like me, your favorite actors probably have a similar video that can give you an inside look at some of your favorite films.

Though times are hard and life feels paused, I’m trying to stay inspired even when stagnance seems to be hard to overcome. In the past week, the cast interviews and More Myself have helped with that, even if it’s just for a short time. There is no constant reassurance right now, but I hope you can carve out some time for yourself to enjoy little things, or to learn something new about something you already know and love. Here’s to reading, watching, or whatever you’re doing to get through your days, I wish you the best.