Isn't this what I'm always trying to do?
More and more, I'm disgusted with my efforts at controlling what others see. Do I want to live a life aimed to please, impress, sell, and satisfy? Is my artist soul about how others view me?
The problem with image control is that I can start believing my own press, shaping and tending my image, and thereby losing touch with my interior self.
It doesn't sound like it could happen so easily, but for me, it does. I must return and return again to my own inner validation, shucking off both the compliments and the complaints, and worst of all, the crickets. Whether my audience likes me or doesn't like me, or whether I'm seen or heard, is not what fuels me in the creative life, in the spiritual life, or in any true sense of accomplishment.
Working with writers and artists as clients and students, I've met many who need to lay aside the concern and effort knotted into image-making. The sensitive and caring seem most affected. These are the ones who habitually notice others' needs and emotions.
When we create an image for people, we gain the toxin of personal confusion.
When the image takes in a lot of people, we call the image "fame." Filmmaker Mike Meyers told interviewer Terry Gross he sees fame this way:
"It's the industrial disease of creativity. You want to make stuff, which is fantastic, and then this thing happens, which is very gratifying and I'm very grateful for it, but it does require a hazmat suit, a psychic hazmat suit."
I'm not even famous*, but there's something in me that wants to be. My tiny fame is enough to make me jumpy and sensitized and noticing. Google wants to help. (Aw, that's so sweet, Google!)
Yet this disease and the need for protection affects the unfamous and the unpublished just as much as those who are well known. The idea is, I have to make the whole world love me, because if I do, I will truly be lovable, not to mention happy.
This idea is a lie.
There is no joy or love in controlling my image, garnering fame, or manipulating a particular response - from one person or ten thousand.
The juiciest creativity pops, the happiest life unfolds, when I abandon control. This is the magic of focusing on what wants to be delivered into the world, sent straight from a pure and carefree heart.
|Sign says "Changing House." Change before you plunge.|
Join me as a guest speaker at Vancouver Community Library, where I'll be giving the talk, "You're the Authority," on Sunday, January 31 at 1 pm. This is part of "National Unpublished Writers Day" a celebration that recognizes and supports writers - regardless of publishing status.
"National Unpublished Writers Day" at Vancouver Community Library will also feature host Christopher Luna, novelists Mel Sanders and April Bullard, and poet Toni Partington - four luminaries who have learned that giving from their hearts is much more powerful than trying to control their image.
In the meantime, I'll be wearing my Tiny Fame Hazmat Suit.
*This is the kind of famous that makes the most sense.