It’s funny, you know the saying about feet of clay…
“A failing or weakness in a person’s character, as in The media are always looking for a popular idol’s feet of clay. This expression comes from the Bible (Daniel 2:31-33), where the prophet interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue with a head of gold and feet of iron clay. [c. 1600]“
A few nights ago I attended a concert of one of my favourite musical artists, Burton Cummings. There was a time I thought I’d never have the pleasure to see him perform live. I was gifted the grace in 2007 to not only see him perform live, but to spend the entire concert not more than 10 feet from him, being allowed to take as many pictures as I liked. At that point, I was not a photographer of any sort, other than a general enthusiast with a wish to do something more, but no real idea how to parlay that desire further. The concert blew my heart and mind. I was riding high for weeks. A true wish fulfilled. I posted my photos on MySpace (snicker snicker), and thought that was pretty much that. Imagine my shock, surprise and overwhelming pride when the man tagged himself in my photos in short order! My first real professional validation! That beat any Cap’n Crunch sugar high previously achieved.
Then a few weeks later, Burton was having a bad day and blogged (he’s an avid blogger) about his insecurities about his voice and some of the choice he’d made recently. I felt compelled to email him, which is a little unlike me. I don’t really seek out celebrity interaction, having worked with a lot of performers on a professional level, I prefer to keep everything on the down low and off stage, but it was such a human post, I just felt like giving him a cyber hug, so I sent him a reply. Imagine my shock and surprise when I logged back in to find a nice email from the man himself letting me know that he’d actually paraphrased my email in his blog. OMG!! Direct contact, acknowledgement, and the coolness to know that somehow the words I had sent resonated with this man who’d given me inspiration and touched my soul for so many years, moving me to tears and highs of elation on a constant basis, gave me such a jolt words barely do justice now to convey the impact they had on me in that moment.
In this day and cyber age, it’s so easy to reach out and touch people, and yet it’s so easy to brush them off as well. The human touch grows more and more distant just as it grows stronger. Our friend lists grow longer and yet we interact in 144 characters and by trading cyber farm animals. Recently I had the amazing chance to track down a teacher who offered to let me move into his home with his family in order to complete my high school education. I ultimately turned him down, and he moved away from town shortly after. For 20 years I wanted to find him and tell him I turned out just fine. Finally I was able to do so and thank him for his kindness all those years ago. I was able to mend fences with a jr high nemesis, who is now a family man quite connected with his community and someone who teaches youth how to be a strong, positive influence on others around them. I’m incredibly proud of being able to call him a friend and wickedly fascinated by his life today.
Inspiration is a river of whitecap twists and turns. She flows at her own pace, over bone crushing rocks that will kill you or leave you next to death.
Her waters are cold and merciless against the warm, bright sunlight, always leading you forward, there is no going back. Inspiration flows into warm, languid pools beside summer meadows, buzzing with summer bees and sipped by gentle woodland creatures as they watch you catch your breath as you rest and await the next burst that you know lies in wait to draw you down the river, unrelenting.
Regardless of where we find our inspiration, our riverbeds are all made of clay, as are we. No one deserves to be put on a pedestal, and we certainly
should not be putting ourselves up on them, demanding things of ourselves that we wouldn’t expect of others. I’m not good for knowing my own limits, and/or sticking to them, but there’s a lot to be said for recognizing them and being able to operate within them.
Be kind to yourself. Whether or not you are an artist. If you can’t be kind to yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to be.
Don’t expect things of yourself that you wouldn’t expect of others.
It’s easy to overlook this part. Don’t.