What do I need?
What do I want my day to look like and how do I want to set it up?
What is most important to ME? What is my art?
What am I concealing?
These are some of the questions that have been on my mind since I last spoke with Rachael, and are whizzing around my brain this morning -like those flying pig-on-a-string things that you screw into your ceiling and fly in a circle over and over again- as I write what is my 12th entry of this seemingly experimental blog.
the game changer
In my last session with Rachael, she asked me a question that has stuck with me.
A question, she said, that surfaced for her almost immediately as we were beginning our session.
The question was (on my behalf): “Am I being honest with myself?”
Am I being honest with myself.
AM I being honest with myself?
Am I being HONEST with myself?
I would venture to guess that –knowing Rachael- if the question came up, then the answer is probably worth investigating…
So what am I not being honest about? One thing comes to mind right off the bat; I originally started writing this blog with the semi-martyred intention of being helpful to other people, which has probably kept me a wee-bit safe in terms of its content. I want to write things that are interesting and relevant to the lives of ALL human beings, and therefore, it is possible that I sometimes forgo the words I actually want to use for fear that I might scare away a ‘potential reader’...
...which is ridiculous because I’m pretty sure the only people
who have read even ONE of my posts are Rachael, my parents, and 2 of my friends.
Basically, I don’t always say what I want to say because I’m afraid of what people might think of me.
(This grows more and more ludicrous the more I re-read it; to be afraid of a thought. As if a thought can jump out at you and slash you with its giant ‘thought machete’. As if, thought.)
Recently, I have been listening to ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert; the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and some other stuff that no one really knows because she was the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.
‘Big Magic’ is one of those books that you listen to slowly, taking the time to absorb everything that you possibly can, often rewinding to make sure that you don’t miss anything. Ms. Gilbert speaks all about the creative process, her unassuming life as a writer, and what it means to truly live a creative life. In her writing, she confesses to choosing each of her words with scrupulous discernment, wanting them to be at their absolute best, in order to compose the most perfect sentence that she has ever written –until the next sentence- and so it goes, until she decides that the work is done and good enough, at which point she will edit no more. Then, as all brave artist must do, she releases it out into the world, where it will be subject to criticism by anyone, everyone, or no one at all.
She goes on to discuss that while an artist must be THAT dedicated and THAT passionate about their work, they must also be detached enough that they can throw the entire sentence/paragraph/manuscript/piece etc. away if it proves to be an ill-representation of their most burning desires.
An artist must take their work incredibly seriously,
in order to do so,
they can’t take any of it all that seriously.
One of my favorite college professors used to call this approach being ‘passionately dis-passionate’, crediting the act of creation itself as essential to our evolution as human beings, regardless of what it is that we actually create.
Liz also speaks about intention in her book.
Why do we do the things that we do?
Why do artists make the particular art that they make?
Why am I doing any of this writing, other than to fulfill a commitment that I made to Rachael and myself several months ago?
Initially, my intention was something like...
I want to be helpful!
But to whom?
Who am I trying to help?
‘I want to enlighten and inform anyone who might be considering reiki, but is unfamiliar with the process!’ I might say.
Or perhaps, ‘I want to show people that there is hope in even the darkest and most confusing of times, and that the guts and glory that are needed for personal transformation leave a bloody battleground in their wake’…
and at this point I hear Liz's words;
‘Bring your strength.
People don’t need you to share your insecurities,
they have enough of their own.’
So, why did I really start writing this blog?
To expose my own wounds before anyone else could?
Because I want to be doing something interesting and cool?
Because I want to show everyone that I am an interesting and cool person who does interesting and cool things…?
Because I want people to know that I’m a good writer so if I do indeed decide to start claiming that I AM a writer, people will not think that I’m full of shit?
So that people know that I am good at something besides performing…?
…..are we noticing a trend here?
To help other people.
To show other people.
‘FOR’ ‘OTHER’ ‘PEOPLE’.
To prove something that I have yet to name, to other people…people that I don’t know all that well, 99.9% of whom don’t really give a shit about what I choose to do with my own life because they are too busy living theirs.
Ouch. That is honest, and it stings a little.
Here is Liz Gilbert’s take on the idea of making art for other people:
“PLEASE don’t make your art to help me. Do it for you. If it’s dark, do it to heal you. If it’s funny, do it because YOU like to laugh at it, but please, oh PLEASE, do NOT make it to help ME.”
She then goes on to discuss the phenomenon that was ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and her utter shock at selling ten million copies of a book that she wrote, mostly, to help herself. Never, she says, had she intended to write that book to help other people or to prove anything to anyone. If she had, odds are high that she would not have been able to speak so freely and authentically from her own, single, individual, tender and unique heart. Her writing was incredibly honest and vulnerable and descriptive and self-deprecating and funny and lavish and gloriously messy And, as fate would have it, caught the eyes and ears of 10 million others just like her, walking their own paths and taking their own journeys, happy and relieved to finally find the words to describe what they were going through…even if the words belonged to someone else.
I like to imagine Liz Gilbert as my creative mentor, instilling in me all of the wild and brilliant gifts that she has learned while living an authentic and creatively abundant life. As my mentor, I would ask her about my writing and my deep need to help or please others with my art. I believe, in turn, she would say something like this:
Dear sweet Morgan, kudos to you for wanting to be helpful. There are a lot of people in the world who could use your help, and your heart must be very large indeed for recognizing that.
Now, stop it.
Stop trying to help us, at least with your art. You don’t know me, you don’t know them, you don’t know what anyone else needs, nor is it any of your business to try and figure it out.
Do it for you. Do it to empty out your soul, so that it may be replenished with the new and the good. Do it to cut through all of the bull shit –both yours and whatever else you’ve picked up along the way- and find out what you’re really made of - who you are, and what you’re here to say- and then, please God, say it for you. Share it for you. Write it for you. If no one ever reads it, it still exists. You still made it. It will still be in the world. So have fun. Do what feels good, and then do the next thing that feels good and so on. Take pleasure in using your words to dance like nobody’s watching.
And also, just as a side note; I never asked for your help.
So thank you, but please-oh-please, stop it.
So, I’m changing my format. From now on, I vow to write what is in my heart, using only the words that I want to use, saying what I need to say, readers be damned!
(Not really, I do hope very much that whoever reads this might find some joy in it,
as I certainly do –find joy- in creating it.)