One of my personal heroes, Justine Musk, wrote an awesome-sauce article entitled “the most badass thing you can do as a creative” which really knocked my socks off. You’ll have to forgive me for quoting this piece so extensively. Or don’t forgive me. Whatevs.
The reason I am so taken with this particular post is because it briefly hits upon a veritable cornucopia of topics and manages to tie them together in a way I have yet to master. Justine is truly an amazing writer and I bow to her superior skills. For realz.
VOICE — Is yours a murderer of joy?
She starts out discussing the two different voices she hears when people speak in tones of passion versus logic. According to Justine, sometimes our rational side will step in to talk down our excitement, thus excusing wrongs; giving up true desires; and thereby dismissing any personal growth as immature, unnecessary, or fruitless.
Somehow my voices got mixed up and managed to twist themselves into an excited, childlike being that worries overly much about logistics.
Here’s me, on the first day of coming up with new idea XYZ:
“I want to do XYZ really, really bad! I don’t know how it will work out, but I’m sure it will all be okay. Hooray for pursuing XYZ!”
Day two of new idea XYZ:
“Still excited about XYZ! Can’t wait to start! All I need is to drive here, do this, buy those, get these, make that, and put them in a box. Then I have to shake them and buy some more things. I can do this.”
Day three of new idea XYZ:
“I hate my life. I am obviously not meant to implement XYZ. I’m still at the bit where I have to drive here, and now I realize I can’t do this or buy those. It’s a great idea, really it is, and I want to do it, but it isn’t possible with my finances / schedule / abilities. Henceforth when I think of XYZ, or when someone else suggests XYZ, or when XYZ comes up in conversation, I shall forever recall this impossible list of steps. Poor me. XYZ is impractical and thus shall never come to pass.”
Day four of new idea XYZ:
“Why should XYZ be reserved only for those more able than I? If I can’t do XYZ, then I hate everyone on the planet. I want to explode the world. Nobody else should be able to do XYZ if I can’t either.”
Day five of new idea XYZ:
“Hey, Babe — remember how I wanted to do XYZ but I couldn’t because of all those reasons? What if I could defeat those reasons? Do you think it’s plausible? I could do this if I wanted it badly enough, right?”
Day six of new idea XYZ:
“Fuck you all! I can do XYZ if I want to. I’m going to. Someday. Assholes.”
VOICE — Do you want power or a relationship?
Justine then goes on to point out the difference between boys and girls and the way each is taught to achieve voice.
“Psychologist Carol Gilligan writes extensively
about how men and women lose their authentic voices
in a culture that teaches us that in order to have power,
you have to sacrifice relationship, and vice versa.
So boys learn to disconnect
from the language of feeling, vulnerability and empathy
in the pursuit of personal power.
Girls learn to submerge their sense of individual power
for the sake of relationship:
it’s more important to be ‘nice’
than to risk confrontation and possible exile.”
As the parent of both a son and a daughter, this one really struck close to home. I have to wonder how well I have done raising my son — have I taught him to be in touch with his feelings? Have I allowed for him to feel vulnerable? Is he, at the end of the day, empathetic?
Like all men, my adult son has a hard time talking about his feelings. But I know he shares more with me, and has a closer relationship with me, than other men have with their mothers. I like to think he will be okay in this area.
If I’m being honest, I can admit he has serious issues with being vulnerable. When he is hurt or suffering pains of the heart, he clams up and becomes moody. He handles it well, but on his own. He doesn’t know how to lean on someone else for support. In a way this has turned him into a very driven young man who is extremely strong-willed. But I worry that he is overly hard on himself and keeps too much bottled up. I can content myself with the knowledge that at least he does not have an explosive rage — if things get too tough, he works it out through exercise and pushes through until he reaches some sort of mental conclusion.
I don’t have to wonder or write a lengthy discourse on the topic of empathy. My son is the most emotionally generous person I’ve ever known. He takes great lengths to walk in the shoes of others. He’s a helluva lot better at it than I am!
But what about my daughter? Have I urged her to give up who she is for the sake of fitting in?
Just kidding. The answer to that is an emphatic HELL NO. I push both my children to face confrontation and fix the problem head-on, regardless of social fall-out. Lucky for me they are both very wise in who they choose as friends. They tend to attract decent people who aren’t assholes. No worries about exile here. Both are ridiculously popular — I’d be jealous if I wasn’t so damn proud of how much they are liked by others!
VOICE — Is yours for realz?
“We learn to not-know what we truly know
when it cuts against the social grain,
and accept a more superficial ‘knowing’ instead,
shaped by outside forces
rather than our own inner authority.”
This one is insidious.
I know. INSIDIOUS was recently a movie, so now it sounds like I’m using that word because it is all pop-culture-ish and whatnot. But don’t forget who I am. I like words, and I totally used “insidious” before it ever thought about being a film that scared the piss out of me.
[[[ Completely off topic and apropos of nothing, that was the last scary movie I saw, and I’m not allowed to watch any more scary movies, because I am too jumpy and scare everyone else around me with my shrieks. ]]]
The insidious item I am talking about here is not a movie. It is, rather, the point that Justine makes with regard to society being willing lambs. Looking the other way because it is safer to follow crowd conditions than to step out on a limb. To trust popular opinion — the voice of the shouting masses — instead of your own eyes, your own instincts, your own background, your own research.
I have a friend who shares with me a mutual acquaintance. I have explained repeatedly to Friend why I do not care for Acquaintance, who said some very ugly things to me and then proceeded to un-friend not only me, but my son as well, from Facebook.
Look, I don’t mind if you gots beef with me. I’m a bitch, and I am well aware of this fact, and I can “get over it”. But don’t be an asshole toward my kids just because you’re pissed at me. That is juvenile and rude and mean and all sorts of other adjectives.
Friend keeps “forgetting” what Acquaintance did, and wants us to get together and be bosom buddies and have tea parties and prance around merrily trying on dresses or whatever.
I’m like… “NO.”
Friend asks why, and I have to tell the story all over again. I know she doesn’t have that old-age-forgetting-disease. What she has is a willingness to forget. She chooses to overlook Acquaintance’s flaws, because it’s easier and more friendly and kinder and less confrontational than just calling a bitch a bitch.
Whereas, I did call Acquaintance a bitch. Because I have no problem stating a fact. If you treat my children improperly, you are a bitch. Questions?
So yeah. I hate that social thing where people ON PURPOSE blind themselves. Guess I’d rather be friendless than shat upon. Somehow, I just don’t have a problem with that.
VOICE — What are you singing?
“We have an instinctive drive toward the truth,
so we eat the apple
or open Pandora’s box
or unlock the forbidden door
or choose the red pill.
We want the authentic life,
and not the illusion of it.
But the truth is subversive and chaotic.
It will set you free, but first it will raise hell –
and quite possibly create a whole new order.
The truth is not polite,
and it is not afraid to challenge
the overriding cultural story
otherwise known as the status quo.”
Girl, you are singing my song.