This past Saturday night…
I climbed up onto a stage and did something I’ve never done before. I stood at a microphone and read my intimate poetry to a group of about one hundred and fifty people gathered to support Syzygy Dance Project, a project led by one of my dance teachers, Sylvie Minot, to bring dance into the jails, prisons, veteran’s homes, and recovery groups.
I read four of my poems, three of which I’ve never shared with the public.
As I sat in the audience waiting to take my turn on stage, I could feel butterflies in my stomach. As soon as I felt them, I knew I was caught up in my own mind, caught up in comparison, caught up in wondering how others would feel about, and what they will think about, me and my ‘performance’. I was out there – out away from myself. I could feel it. My thoughts were conjuring up worries about what hadn’t yet even occurred.
It’s a habit I’ve had, many decades old.
But now, when I feel this kind of worry, I know to come back to myself. When I do, I can feel myself coming back in from out there, back into my center.
As I came back to center, all I could ask of myself was to offer what I have, as it is, as I am.
It’s not even a question of being enough, because that would be back in a place of comparison.
Enough compared to what?
Enough compared to whose standards?
For me, center is simply where I know myself as I am. There is no comparison, because at center I simply am what I am.
In coming back to center, I noticed I felt a kind of joy about sharing my poetry. It was a simple kind of love, a genuine joy, a sense of impending delight. I could sense that I really wanted to do this, not for anything from anyone else, but for me. I wanted to share.
This desire to share was a wonderful feeling. It felt simple. And, I felt a kind of agelessness, with no worry or anxiety to cause time to creep in.
As I felt this desire, I sensed even more clearly something I’ve been holding back on in my life. For years.
My friends know this already because usually what we finally admit to ourselves others have known all along.
I am an artist.
I am an artist.
It’s not the label so much that is important. In fact, it’s not the label at all. When I say, ‘I am an artist’, I’m saying that I am here to create. Yes, I teach. Yes, I coach.
And, at the heart of it all…
I am a champion of Soul-expression – deep, passionate, real Soul-expression.
A champion for others, yes!
And, now, finally, a champion for myself and my own works of art.
To finally get to this place…
I had to realize that I can’t be in the world, doing what I truly desire to do – creating beauty – if I need a certain kind of response from anyone who is on the receiving end of my work. This is different than being in business in a way, because in business we do need a certain kind of response in order to know we are serving our clients, and in turn making a living.
But in art, the fullness of our expression cannot come through if we are attempting to please others, to change our art, our poetry, and our creations in order to get them to understand it. This is not to say we don’t have to find a way to be clear. But that clarity comes through as part of the creativity, not as something we do on the other end to try to anticipate others’ reactions.
In art, the fullness of expression must come through, and then, after that happens, others get to experience that expression in whatever forms it might take.
And here, once the expression is complete, as it was with my poems, then I could stand and share them, in tact, knowing they are whole without anyone’s approval. They are whole in and of themselves. They are creations in and of themselves. In the act of creating, I can feel this wholeness. I know when the creation is complete and full and true. I can feel it. And, knowing each creation is complete unto itself, as people told me how the poetry affected them I felt joy that they saw the poems for what they are. I felt happy because the poems moved people. I felt a kind of connection with others through the poetry.
I think some of my breakthrough came from reading and working through Tanya Geisler and Lauren Bacon‘s new creation, Beyond Compare. Some of it was not new to me, because I teach this work. I teach about the Voice of Judgment and Creativity. But, their work goes deeper. I was finally able to see how much I was still fearing being an artist because of old messages that caused me to try to live up to some external standard. It was comparison in a different guise.
I am not an affiliate for Beyond Compare. I just know that it helped me see through something that’s been blocking me for a long time. Tanya interviewed me for Beyond Compare so I could share what I discovered. In the interview, I shared that I discovered I’d been hiding – hiding my creations, not only from the world, but from myself, because I didn’t think I could handle the criticism. And, I’ve been hiding from my deep longing to be an artist.
My poetry was well received. I know that’s because I received these poems myself, for me first, and because I received myself as I am, coming back to the joy, love, and, yes, delight! that is at the center of who and what I am.
If you wish to find out more about Beyond Compare, you can sign-up here. Beyond Compare will be available tomorrow, October 28th.