Monday, October 4, 2010


Last week I had an amusing thought that I’ve been going around telling everybody: "It's exhausting, spending all day proving to utter strangers how awesome you are--" in reference to job applications and applying to festivals etc. as an artist.

Of late, life is being ceaselessly funny and interesting. . . but sure would like it to be a little less interesting and more peaceful (it couldn't get funnier, trust me!).

It’s like that ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” How much nicer might it be to live in peaceful and contented times?? But then, as my friend Alicia points out to remind me: challenges build character. Nowadays, so many of the characters that I know are challenged almost to the utmost. But have they built character? Are we all better off for these trials and tribs?

These trying days, I know I need to bolster my well being frequently. I need positive feedback. I need support. Without employment, I need a lot, emotionally (not to mention monetarily). Every time I replace the kitchen garbage bag, I think, “By the time this box of bags is empty, will I or my husband be earning a living wage?” There are 50 bags left; we use about three bags a week. So, in 16 weeks (give or take), if the “bag oracle” works (I also do this with other household items just because my hope springs eternal), we’ll be back to work or otherwise in good shape? Wouldn’t that be a relief!

Last week’s fortune cookie read, in its edit-worthy wisdom: “The nearest way to glory is to strive to be what you wish to be thought to be.”

Aha. Or, uh huh. A few interesting words to digest out of the factories producing little white slips of two-sided paper (LEARN CHINESE and Lucky Numbers included on other side of fortunes). Reminds me of the I Ching Hexagram for “Biting Through,” Shih Ho -- #21: “This hexagram represents an open mouth with an obstruction (in the fourth place) between the teeth. As a result the lips cannot meet. To bring them together one must bite energetically through the obstacle. Since the hexagram is made up of the trigrams for thunder and for lightning, it indicates how obstacles are forcibly removed in nature. . . .” That is, the image of a thunder and lightning storm dissipating the ambient tension.

I do love a thunderstorm, and I do love the I Ching, though these days I don’t study it so much as I can remember some of the tao’s wisdom, which is pretty universal. In a nutshell (a very nutty shell), I define that as the concept of much good fortune is found in misfortune, and vice versa (“the seeds of misfortune are found in good fortune”).

Therefore, if we always keep to the middle way – which is really the core of Asian philosophy, getting neither excited nor excessively sad --emotions can’t overcome our logic or wellbeing. And then, life is good. It’s like the Greeks in the days of ancient philosophy: moderation in all things serves humanity best.

Anyway, it’s something to strive for when you tend to be a mood swerver and let everything bug you. As my favorite philosopher, Epictetus, said time and again, self control is the only thing we have control over, and that includes attitudes. Especially our attitudes; we control them, and the world is our oyster (unless you prefer clams).

So. As an unemployed, all-around or versatile/diverse individual with more and more transferable skills – AND as a talented music and word artist – I do spend many of my days on the computer, PROVING to utter strangers how awesome I am. That would, hopefully, lead to more jobs for me, perhaps a decent day job (ideally at a large institution, like my U.N. job, where they let you know exactly what’s expected and think the best of you rather than look for ways to cut you down because then they could fire you or not have to give you a raise).

I hardly dare muse on how proving my awesomeness to the right stranger(s) might lead to more exposure for my life’s work, my creative projects in writing and music. I barely dare think how life could – would – be if I really succeeded in proving my worth to the world and then having it come back to me in monetary and other rewards.

Those recent MacArthur Fellows program award recipients, or “Genius” awards, where people in diverse fields were awarded half a million dollars, no strings attached, to facilitate further creativity? I want one. Lookee, I know I have what it takes: (from website) “exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.” Now, doesn’t that sound JUST like me? And how about that Nobel prize? Gimme!

All right, I’d settle for a Pulitzer – that works for me. Or, maybe I could get another Grammy Nomination (which happened to my Contemporary Folk group some 20+ years ago, The Washington Squares) and actually win a Grammy? I wouldn’t rule that one out, uh uh, not at all.

Proving awesomeness is kind of a 24/7 job until everybody who needs to know that about you, knows. It could take a lifetime.

But ultimately, if I don’t believe how awesome I am, nobody else will. Hence the wisdom of that fortune cookie, exhorting one to carry on acting “as if,” just fakin’ it until makin’ it. Yup, that sort of works. So like the Television song, “Prove it!” I’m not good with hard cold facts, but I sure love to turn a phrase and can write circles (and songs) around almost anybody.

Lastly, is it true: “Better late than never?” The proof, inotherwords, comes from inner confidence, in the heart and in the mind. Meanwhile, I need a nap: it IS exhausting!

Oct. 4, 2010

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I was laid off last month and I love every word of this, rings true for me too! We should have coffee sometime! Pat