I have never cliff-dived, although I do have a friend who has engaged in that death-defying activity on more than one occasion.
I have never jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, nor would I, but recently watched a video at a party of a man who celebrated his 80th birthday by doing just that. My attention was drawn both to the screen and his face as he was re-living the experience. Such exhilaration.
I have never hung suspended from a rubberized cord over a canyon or off a bridge, but I do a whole bunch of emotional bungee jumping. It happens each time I put fingers to keyboard to spill out the flood of words that ramble through my brain, that is bursting at the seams. That image makes me laugh, but there are times when I visualize a scene from The Poseidon Adventure when the water rushes through the portals.
Good thing I am still seaworthy.
Writing is in my passion and purpose. The Muse is my lover and constant companion. I dream of article ideas and wake up ready to rock, roll and ramble. Nearly everything in my life is a writing prompt. I never have the dreaded writers’ block and instead, a major case of writers’ runs that no amount of mental Imodium will halt; thank goodness. It has saved my sanity countless times and in the midst of grief and challenge, it has become a safe haven.
And yet…when I contemplate writing about personally sensitive subjects, such as the death of my parents, my paradoxical and sometimes dysfunctional marriage (which officially ended when my husband died and yet has continued to haunt me), new relationships, body image issues, my mixed addictions of co-dependence and workaholism, sexuality, asking to have needs met, single-parenting challenges and my deepest, darkest fears—I might as well be taking that plunge into a shark tank.
My heart races and I ask myself why I feel such a need to be a ‘soul stripper,’ peeling off the layers to reveal the real and raw that lies beneath an otherwise confident façade.
Part of it is to purge myself of the toxins that sometimes build up and threaten to choke me. Another reason is to open the door for others to heal through those conditions as well. And yet a third, is because I truly like hearing how my work impacts on readers. Yes, there is ego involved.
How can one be a creative communicator without that element?
I have walked the tightrope between being shamelessly self-promoting, loving the center stage spotlight and wanting to duck for cover when someone tells me that they enjoy my work. I have to admit that I take huge delight in seeing high numbers of readers for my articles on this site and sometimes pout when they are lower than I would like for them to be. I doubt that I am unique in that feeling. That’s when I realize what a risk taker I am and what brave souls my fellow ‘creativas‘ (artists, writers, musicians, actors, speakers, performers of any kind) are each time we lay ourselves bare naked emotionally, for the world to either love or hate.
It can be challenging to tease out the threads that separate who we are from what we do.
I call it the ‘funny looking baby syndrome,’ that can occur when proud parents take their child out in the stroller for the first time. Naturally, they believe that he or she is the most beautiful in the world. And then…someone peels back the blanket and peers inside and beholds the infant and thinks, “What a funny looking baby.”
Maybe they will be polite and make some innocuous comment. Perhaps they will brazenly say what they think. The parent might feel defensive or hurt and dismayed. I have been in both parental states from time to time. I experience trepidation about having my heartfelt values challenged, even as I welcome dialog about the subjects explored in the articles. What if people think I am full of myself? Horrors.
I consider myself an ‘Avant Gardener’—someone who plants unconventional, thought- stretching seeds and waits (at times rather impatiently) for them to blossom. I fertilize the plot of land with thoughts that I ‘should’ have my work out there in the world in more expansive ways. Buckets of mental manure that reek of “Why aren’t you writing for news-stand displayed mainstream mags too?” and “How come you haven’t been asked to do a TED Talk yet?,” “Oh and by the way, smarty pants, if you’re all that, why hasn’t Ellen called?”
I have learned that a garden grows its best crop when it is carefully nurtured, watered and fed. Some flowers grow more rapidly and others take their sweet time.
A friend recently wrote a blog entry about not wanting to be referred to as a ‘rock star’ among her peers, since she seemed to equate it to show with no substance. My response to her was “If you reframe the meaning for you, as someone who does know her stuff, who does have a good reputation. Someone who has earned her chops, who is in integrity and delivers more than promised, then in my mind, you are a rockstar. Sorry ’bout that. I see myself in that same light.”
To all of my rock star compatriots out there:
If you are willing to take the risk of sharing your gifts with the world, then in my book, you deserve that title and the notoriety that goes along with it. Here’s to creative cliff-diving, enjoying your time in free flight.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Edie Weinstein
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Jimelovski Platano Macho/Flickr