Someone—there is debate on whether it was Gandhi or not—once said “be the change you wish to see in the world”, and this week it feels like truer words were never spoken. Sunday saw this year’s Bargain Basement Sale, an annual charity bazaar that brings together hundreds of people and hundreds of brands to raise money for a fistful of deserving causes, ranging from cancer research, animal welfare and schools for the underprivileged. As a fervent do-gooder, nothing pleases me more than joining hands with the insanely committed, tireless BBS team who spend months chasing up donations, tagging, marketing and then setting up and selling like mad on the day of the sale. And the best part of trying to give back in Pakistan is that people love a bargain, but they also like to spend for a cause. As anyone who has ever manned a table at a school bake sale knows, people will buy your miserable plain cake if you can fire them up about the reason why you’re selling them. Nobody could refuse Edhi sahib when he took to the streets with a bucket to collect alms any more than anyone can refuse a six year old trying to sell you bricklike brownies –or in this case, selling you furniture and couture for half the price.

The Women’s Action Forum (WAF) and The All Pakistan Music Conference put together a beautiful evening of art, music and dance alongside a gallery exhibition to honour and celebrate recently deceased artist, activist and teacher Lala Rukh. A significant part of the women’s movement in Pakistan has been documented by Lala, a founding member of WAF, through her photographs—many of which have become iconic images of resistance. She was a singular woman, someone who lived her truth with quiet strength. Her work was beginning to garner more international attention, with shows at the Sharjah Biennial 12 in 2015, the first Yinchuan Biennale in 2016 and at Documenta 14 this year. Her work, spare and meditative, echoes her love for music and dance, her calligraphic works a melting together of pen and song. Lala Rukh was truly one of a kind; how many of us can say that for ourselves?

We spend so much of our lives wondering who we are and why we’re here. I suspect most of us know the answer, but are afraid to answer that call. In Disney’s “Moana”, her island family keeps trying to dissuade her from taking to the sea. She grows up being gently pulled back from the call of the ocean, and finally she makes it, unseen, escaping grief, to the waters on a quest that will save not just her island, but the world. It’s interesting to me that so far, I’ve been writing about women doing this, but it holds true to all of us. Culturally we are not a people who are open to doing things differently, so anyone who wants to truly do something has to be braver than the average person—have more grit, more courage. In a wonderful essay for AsiaArtPacific, Jyothi Dar quotes Lala Rukh talking about how lonely it was to practice her minimalist art in the seventies, upon her return from art school abroad. Nobody was making work like it, and we all know how enthusiastic us desis are about diversity.

Artists and creatives are the ones who push the hardest, and the longest. Somehow it is the nature of the kind of work they do. Things that engage the heart and the instinct, that tenuous and shapeshifting idea we call beauty; those things ask a price not quoted to a banker or lawyer. And to follow that call to the wild, to hear it above the noise and clangour of our lives that ask us to be sensible, to think of the children, of the bills…well, that takes courage. You see it in the accountants that paint, the doctors that sing, the moms who thought they could work from the house but ended up scribbling, like Jane Austen, snippets of stories on papers hastily stuffed into a drawer (Austen hid hers under a blotter). One gets sidetracked, life arrives and is noisy and insistent and deviance is unknowable and uncharted. But that quiet voice comes back, and you might find yourself volunteering for a cause, taking a class, calling the radio morning show and singing a song on a dare because sometimes we all free ourselves. And when we reach out and connect with the world and the people around us we tap into an energy that is exciting and life-giving and invigorating. When you connect a circuit, sparks fly—it’s electric. One can see how that would terrify someone who would want to keep you away from it, so that you remain a dull, lonely thing, fixed to the wall. Nothing changes like that. Pinned people don’t change the world, whether they are engineers dreaming of sending rockets to space or learning Kathak. We need to answer our calls in order to make the path easier for the ones behind us, to light to way one at a time towards a world that is more beautiful and just; the kind that we deserve.