The other day my 24 year-old son Patrick invited me to watch a video featuring a band he had played with at a recent gig. When finished, my first response (part mother, part honest) was, “They’re good, but your band’s better.”
My son gave me a disappointed look. “We’re not about who is better, Mom,” he said. “We’re all good. We support each other. That’s what artists do. It’s not about competition. When everyone is encouraged, then everyone wins.”
Well, shut my mouth. I felt like we were Andy Taylor and Opie on the front porch, except I was Opie. All we needed was the guitar and Aunt Bea.
But I realized something. Patrick was right. A true artist does appreciate the work of others. There should be no sharp elbows in creativity, no jostling for position and feelings of superiority.
It got me pondering.
For the most part, I think I succeed at this. I’m truly happy for my friends’ victories.
Still, there are moments.
For instance, I can’t help feel a little green when I read the latest “Modern Love” essay in the New York Times written by a 26 year old; or that writer who just published her 10th best-selling novel; or that artist lauded for lifetime achievement.
In this world that loves celebrity of every kind, it’s easy to feel insecure and lacking, which brings on the next emotion – competition — with its comparisons and jibes and meanness.
Lately I’ve been trying to learn from envy. Instead of envisioning success as a constant crawl up a steep mountain, what if we accepted where we were? What if that more successful person is simply meant to be that way? What if it’s their fate or karma?
What if it’s your fate or karma to be where you are?
When I think of that notion, a strange thing happens. It doesn’t bring on the fear, resentment or bitterness I’d expect. On the contrary, it brings peace and even gratitude.
If it’s all decided, I can relax.
Letting go doesn’t mean we give up our dreams. It means we give up the struggle, the ego part of our dreams. We do it simply for love.
Some of the best painters, writers and musicians I know are people little known in the wider world. They do what they do because they need to. They do it because it makes them happy.
Yes, I realized something that day listening to my son.
Real creativity comes with helping and supporting others, forming a community of like-minded people. But it also comes with accepting and respecting our own part of the journey, wherever it might be.
Maybe success is preordained. Maybe it’s not. Or maybe its somewhere in between.
At the very least, it’s so much easier letting go and enjoying the ride.
Do you have smart kids who teach you life lessons? Comments are always welcome and if you’d like to receive postings by email, just enter your address at the bottom. Thank you as always for reading and sharing….