Monday, August 30, 2010

The Empowering Effects of Sucking

I recently had an experience that truly clarified for me that I am merely the vessel for creativity and have very little to do with the generation of the ideas that come to me. I have understood this at an intellectual level but at my core I think I still had a great deal of ego invested in "my" creativity.

A few weeks ago I had a friend who was going through a difficult patch in her life. Actually, I had several friends who were dealing with very real tragedy in their lives. I felt helpless. There was very little I could do other than listen and be a physical presence in their lives. One friend, however, was taking positive steps toward eliminating some of the chaos in her life. She was struggling with the uncomfortable feeling of standing up for herself. I wanted to yell, "YES!! You're on the right path - DO IT!" But, it was her journey and mine was to quietly walk beside her and listen to her as she sorted out her feelings. Still, her taking a stand was quite powerful. It stirred something deep within me. It occurred to me how important it is that we share these stories because one person's courage will help to empower another's. That's as far as my thought went. I didn't say, "Hey, I should write a poem about this" because, frankly, it didn't feel like my tale to tell.

The next morning, I woke up with a song in my head. I don't write songs. But, there it was. A song. The chorus was right there - BOOM! Fully formed. I was so surprised, I didn't really question it other than to say to myself, "Well, if there's chorus, what's the verse?" The verse didn't show up immediately, first the break came. It came rushing in. So, I said, "Well, that's fine but there has to be a verse." Sure enough, a few hours later the verse showed up. By this time I'd had a few cups of coffee and was awake enough to say, "This song sucks." I mean seriously! I don't write music but if I were to sit down and write music this song is not at all what I would write. It was so off-base. Even the lyrics were not at all like my poetry. It was so UN-me. Still, it stuck in my head. Finally I said, "Well, one verse and a chorus does not a song make so go ahead, give me the second verse." There it was.

I didn't know what to do with it. I don't hear harmony so I couldn't flush it out. The song wasn't in my style so I couldn't really sing it. And, frankly, I didn't like it. Still, I honored it. I recorded it. I sang it for my friend. But, mostly it was a huge lesson in how I really can't take the credit or the blame for my creative output. All I have control over is the craft - what I do with the creative ideas that come to me. A skilled song writer probably could have turned that awful little ditty that came to me into something much better. I have no such skills. In fact, I feel so little ownership of the song that if someone said, "Hey, I want to use that idea." I would be MORE than willing to let them. I feel like it was meant for someone else anyway and the wires just got jumbled.

I can't believe what freedom I have found in saying "WOW - that SUCKS!! I did that and it sucks!" I feel like I finally understand at my very center that I am merely the vessel, the delivery person. I don't have to judge it. I just have to show up and do it.

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My own little place to explore my creativity and imagination