While walking to the red line to head downtown to the library for Unspeakable Empathy - the word resistance came up again. What I run up against with my clients and myself re: resistance is not so much Us not wanting to DO something, it's Us not wanting to FEEL something. I mentioned on my call on Wednesday that it's impossible to have emotional authenticity from a distance. What did I mean by that? We can't stay in observer and talk about our feelings a from a detached, distant place. There's no risk in that and to me emotional authenticity involves risk. If I'm afraid they won't love me ,then I need to say the thing I'm afraid they won't love me if I say it- not a sanitized version of it.
I also feel that being creative, being an artist involves risk. There's the "risk" when we go really deep into our creative state of discovering something we'd rather not know/face/express. I know for me that means I have to do it because if I don't, I'm choosing to remain complicit in my own invisibility and in the stories (aka lies in some cases) I've been telling myself . The truth will come out in ways shocking or not so shocking depending on how far we've pushed it down.
Check this out from the book "Female Brando" - I'm quoting from a segment in which Kim Stanley is starring as Elizabeth von Ritter in "A Far Country" on Broadway.
"Freud suggests to Elizabeth von Ritter that the paralysis in her legs is the subconscious result of her having refused to walk upstairs one night and give medicine to the sick father she had long been nursing, because she secretly wished he would die.
Sitting in the front row of the theater I watched Kim Stanley's cheeks turn bright red; then tears shot out of her eyes so fast and in such torrents that I clutched the edge of my chair. At that moment, the curtain started coming down as Ms. Stanley screamed with everything in her "No, it's a lie!" And when the curtain hit the stage floor, she continued screaming in the darkness.
People started grabbing at each other for they had just witnessed a great actress give a performance that didn't seem to be a performance at all but a trauma in a real person's life that we shouldn't be able to watch." - Larry Moss
Chances are pretty good that if Henry Denker had stopped to think about if his play (A Far Country) would make money, he never would have written it. I want everyone to make money from their art and I also want everyone not to be paralyzed by trying to create things through the lens of "It has to make money." or "Will this make money?"
So many people never get anything off the ground because they can't see how they are going to make money from it. So many of us seem to have beliefs about we can't make money from our art.
If I'm passionate about something I have to do it. For this week let's forget "How am I going to make money from it?" and create as if our life depended on it. (And it does)
You have to discover what you want/need to say to yourself and that may involve a lot of writing and painting. And forgetting about perfection. If you weren't obsessed with doing it wrong what would you do? If you weren't thinking about what other people would buy what would you create? The more passionate you are - the more people will pay attention. But first YOU have to pay attention to yourself.
Tonight at "Unspeakable Empathy*" - Meghan Daum read from "Unspeakable" and Leslie Jamison read from "The Empathy Exams." They both mentioned that they write to help themselves discover how they feel or think about something. (hmm. I just said that a few newsletters ago) For me this is one of the primary reasons we are alive, let alone why we are writing or making art. To discover ourselves.
To discover and celebrate the things we FEEL rather than what we are told "Everyone else _____" or "Everyone feels/thinks _______."
I loved that Leslie Jamison said when she is writing, if she notices she is telling the story in her "cocktail party" voice that she is telling the same old story and she is not discovering anything new.
So let's borrow that - we don't want to be telling the cocktail party version of our wound, trauma, divorce etc. We want to delve deep into "What am I really trying to avoid feeling?"
Over the past few days I've heard s lot of variations of "I'm afraid" followed by - 'It's going to take over (me/my life)" "Once I start, I'm not going to be able to stop." "I won't have any time to myself." What were we talking about when people said these words? Passion and Creativity.
We could have just as easily been talking about feelings. Losing Control. I knew my intent when I was kicking my father's shins in the alley as an 8 year old girl. I wanted to hurt him because he had hurt me by being checked out.
An 8 year may understand "he's mentally ill" but that didn't erase "I want a father." Later I felt guilty and mean. What kind of person kicks a mentally ill man in the shins? What started first? Other people calling me mean or me feeling mean?
What's the story you tell most often about yourself? Who do you feel most badly about hurting? Who hurt you the most ? How is this hurt keeping you closed off in one or more areas of your life /body?
The stories we tell ourselves often focus on what someone outside of us said when really we've been saying it to ourselves for so long it 's almost like we can't hear anything else.
Part of my work this year is not letting other people tell me where something inside me came from/originated/started. Because even when I was a child I knew that I couldn't buy the stories about whose fault it was that ________.
How many times did you scream (or say) "That's a lie" or "That's not true" as a child? How many times were either of those said to you? What was being covered up? (or trying to be covered up?) That's where buried treasure awaits.
More on this on my call next Wednesday.
The Truth Teller is Welcome, Denise
* presented by [ALOUD] at the downtown LAPL. ** loved it when Louise Steinman curator of [ALOUD] said while introducing the program "We'd appreciate it if the questions you ask are really questions."
it's 1:47 in the morning - I'd rather be sleeping but my guides say write so I'm writing.