“For an artist virtue can be deadly. The urge toward respectability and maturity can be stultifying even fatal. We strive to be good, to be nice, to be of service, of the world. But what we really want is to be left alone. When we cannot get others to leave us alone, we eventually abandon ourselves. To others we may look like we are there. We may act like we are there. But our true self has gone underground.” ~ Julia Cameron, The Artists Way
Ms. Cameron isn’t necessarily talking about being literally left alone in the physical sense although that can be part of it, she is talking about being “free” of the pestering demands of a world that seeks to preach and prod all of humanity into what it deems an “acceptable conformity” of placid, homogenized blankness, a veritable frontal lobotomy of sameness from which the creative true self will retreat as a matter of the true definition of what is “self-preservation.” ~
It is human nature and a built in device of self protectiveness that if repeatedly bludgeoned with the message that who or what a person is, is unacceptable to whatever sphere they are in that they will usually then adapt to, accept and sometimes even adopt the behavior of the group even if they think, find or know that behavior to be abhorrent , or ” wrong,” or even if the behavior runs completely counter to who they are as people, for fear of being driven out and left on their own. However, it is almost always, ironically, those who are able to stand their ground as individuals, around whom new worlds are formed, worlds that move us forward, worlds of invention, creativity, intelligence and cure. You cannot change the status quo, by adherence to the status quo.
The issue for the artist, however, is often that they really may have no particular interest in changing the status quo or anything of the kind, only that they wish to be accepted as they are and let be to create their art in peace, and to share it in joy when they choose to. However, the “world” often instinctively fears these creative people by virtue of their very existence, regardless of whether or not they’ve actually done anything to upset the so-called “herd,” as being a threat to the established order. Societies, social structures, worship control and fear change. Because what people really fear, isn’t that someone else might be different from they are, they fear that that difference might somehow mean that they themselves are “wrong” in some way, people take it personally and think that someone being different is somehow a judgement of them. “What do you mean you’re wearing bell bottoms? Skinny jeans are what’s in! I’ve got ten pairs of them! Oh my God, who does she think she is?” Most people want affirmation and validation from others, from the “group,” they want the status quo. I think that most introverts don’t seek that same kind of validation or “approval” only to have it be “acceptable” that they prefer to be left to their own devices, to be “left alone” from that pestering. And none are then often so reviled and then revered as those who “dare to be different” or those who simply are different and cannot help it, or hide it, the people who are the first to do something or who do things first.
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made, after all, what is a sun-dial in the shade?” ~ Benjamin Franklin
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
Can the same be said of the truth of one’s self?
Ironically, this sometimes happens in packs of wild artists too, this fear of anything, or anyone that is maybe ” too different” or perhaps too much of a mystery, that’s out, you know? Being a “normal artist type” is in right now and being a truly introverted “different” type is out. So this sometimes happens in packs of wild artists too, where you’d think that introverts would be at least accepted as such. Thus you do not much see the novelist working quietly in the corner of a crowded bar or the painter producing warehouses full work while attending parties. Doesn’t mean that it isn’t nice to be invited, doesn’t mean that they don’t ever want to attend, it simply means they are dancing to their own tune, and that is not to disparage the tunes of others. We don’t all have the same favorite song.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
I wrote something yesterday about my love of thrift stores and the treasures that I often find and didn’t realize until after I wrote it that parts of it could have been perceived the wrong way, it flat-out “read wrong” in places and so it needed to be edited and that’s fine, goes with the territory. But in the interim, my feelings were hurt and perhaps to the delight of many that will make me less likely to let fly with things of a seemingly more personal nature. That is upsetting to me also because I like to just rail about things sometimes or make my trivial lists of things that I love or that I think are cool and I like to share them, not for validation but because I like to read those kinds of things when others write them and how wonderful to share a discovery or an idea that maybe someone else can get off on too, find some entertainment or enjoyment in? Say “Hey…I hadn’t thought of that! I’ll check that out!” or what a good idea! Or maybe even find some comfort in, “I’ve felt that way too.” Solace. So it’s kind of creatively stifling when that happens, I feel that sense of wanting to be left to my own devices as it were and to retreat. I’ll likely bounce back from it and let fly again at some point but with trepidation. I was reminded of the Julia Cameron quote.
I think there are two basic kinds of creative types with a variety of others within the spectrum. I think there’s the “I LOVE A PARADE” creative, performer type, who can’t wait to get on stage and hear the applause, they have no problem writing the play and starring in it, and that’s great, that’s wonderful and so good for them. I begrudge them nothing. And I think there are those of us who want to do what we do, write, paint, and maybe aren’t ever quite as comfortable with being looked at so directly, which seems to run counter to the goal of the thing in some way. The first poetry reading that I ever participated in was the second to last because at the second poetry reading I participated in I was swarmed afterward by people wanting copies of the work and asking me questions. It was a long time ago, I was younger and really pretty which is what I tell myself accounted for most of it but the truth is that if what I’d read/written hadn’t been any good, then “pretty” wouldn’t have mattered much with that group. I thought I had “stage fright” and I did not consider myself to be an introvert, but have finally asked myself, did I like being on stage? Did I want to be on stage, was I excited about it and looking forward to it and then, just nervous? I realized that I didn’t and don’t like being on “stage” as it were and I never have. I’ve also realized that I have long bristled at any inference of shyness and then hurt at comments like “getting you to talk was like pulling teeth.” I don’t know that I’m all that shy. I know I’ve oft been exhausted by those who thought I should be “brought out of my shell” or fixed or corrected in my personage in some way because I kind of like spending time with…me. I have “abandoned” myself many times trying to “fit in” as it were and always with great pain, I have “abandoned” myself many times because it was conveyed to me that my introversion was deemed unacceptable. However, if you abandon yourself for long enough, to avoid the pain of that feeling, something else happens and then finally that pain becomes too great as well. You realize then also that people might not seem to know who you are, because who and where have really been? Underground? What difference does it make, if it hurts either way? Better then to find one’s own way to be, to live, as it isn’t the life of anyone else.
“And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin
I can no longer abandon myself, I’m not sure what that means yet. It probably isn’t the latest fashion.