Quote from Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons in Chemistry (sourced on QuoteFancy.com, Nov. 24, 2023)

We live in tumultuous times. So much is changing: systems are tumbling, expectations are upended, parameters are shifting. It can feel overwhelming at times, and we want to shrink and hide from all that the world seems to be asking of us. Art can feel like a way to escape, but it also inevitably provokes us with its questions. So it has been this past week at two events (NATS Vocal Showcase in Kingston and the Association for Opera in Canada Opera Summit in Winnipeg) where young artists and seasoned professionals and industry mavens came together to exchange ideas and push for new ways.

As always, I look for the intersections. Recently I became intrigued by Lessons in Chemistry, the new(ish) New York Times bestseller by Bonnie Garmus–first by watching the series starring Brie Larson on Apple tv+ and then by reading the novel (in one day! Thanks, COVID!). While ostensibly about “chemistry” and more specifically, about a particular chemist, Elizabeth Zott, and her struggle to be heard and seen in a man’s world, it’s also more globally about chemistry in both the literal and metaphysical sense. Chemistry as the source of all things, the core of our very beings, representative of our interconnectedness. And at the very centre of the laws of chemistry is that change is inevitable and to be embraced, which is something I talk about with my students a LOT. Experimentation, play and change. We are so scared of it and we try to control all the variables, but chemistry teaches us that this is not possible or even desirable, and that in the unexpected lies the greatest miracle.

So I’m going to leave you with a quote that really struck me towards the end of this book, with apologies to Bonnie Garmus and Penguin Random House, because I didn’t ask their permission to quote it in print! But I hope I shall be forgiven, due to the fact that I am giving them a serious shout-out here:

“Whenever you start doubting yourself, whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is at the root of change–and change is what we are chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others’ opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies [or we could say: folx, because I believe this applies to many, not just women]. Design your own future. When you go home today, ask yourself what you will change. And then get started.”