Mon. May 13, 2019: Inner Peace – Detachment #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, May 13, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

I promised you a post about detachment and inner peace, so I’m delivering.

One of the frustrating aspects of studying meditation and different paths is when the instructors and meditators talk about the need for “detachment.” Or, sometimes, it’s phrased as “non-attachment.”

I don’t believe that artists can approach the world with detachment. Our work doesn’t resonate unless it’s passionate. Unless it’s created with passion and life and juice and emotion.

So when these instructors talk about living a life of “non-attachment,” I admit I want to smack them upside the head with the Frying Pan of Creation.

I think one of the reasons we’re in a societal and humanitarian crisis, locally and globally, is because we’ve removed the humanity from interaction. Computers make arbitrary decisions on hiring, firing, insurance claims, bank loans. Employees hide behind “company policy” in order to get away with debasing and harming their fellow humans.

That’s what “non-attachment” encourages. Yes, whenever I bring that up in a class or a session, I get a lecture filled with psycho-babble terms claiming that’s not what “detachment” or “non-attachment” mean at all. But look at how it’s actually practiced. Look at what happens when we detach from each other as human beings. De-humanization, which leads to the classification of those inconvenient “others” that leads to the fascism and authoritarianism we currently face. To sit on our mats chanting “non-attachment” or to put our hands over our ears and sing, “la-la-la, I don’t do politics” — if we want to stay alive and to have a world in which our children can live, that is not an option.

Especially for artists.

Artists have the capacity, and, more importantly, the responsibility to change the world. While entertaining. Those are not mutually exclusive. The best art entertains AND informs. Art can be lighthearted and fun and brain candy and still relevant. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s too relevant and so heavy-handed that it shuts the audience down instead of opening them up. That’s where craft is necessary.

Artists can build buffers between themselves and many of the demands of daily life because they need a type of sacred space to create. At the same time, daily life keeps artists connected. Things like cooking and doing laundry soothe me and give me a chance to clear my head. Physical tasks balance mental tasks. But artists cannot and should not detach from passion, emotion, complexity, and a wide range of experience, or their art will become soulless.

At the same time, once the first flush of creation is done, be it the first draft or a rendering or whatever form, the artist DOES have to step back, take a breath. Take a break, so that it can be approached and improved from the point of view as though someone else created it.

Finishing your draft and starting edits an minute later, an hour later, even a day later — you don’t have the distance and objectivity to see what doesn’t work. You need to detach from the first flush of creation in order to layer in craft and make it the best it can be. You practice “non-attachment” to every word in the draft, but you are not detached from the craft in the creative process that allows it to engage and enchant your audience. You do not detach from the meld of art and craft that allows an audience to experience something new to them. To change their frame of reference. To see the world through different eyes.

What do you is shift your perspective in order to elevate your creation to the next level. Cut out what doesn’t work. Polish what does. That takes investment, commitment, and a different type of passion.

You detach from the belief that every word in a draft is inviolate and can’t be improved. But you are committed to making the draft better. And the next one even more so.

You balance the frenzy with creation with the steady progress of craft. So that when you release it into the world, it has the ability to fly.

Every person who interacts will do so from their own frame of reference. There will be as many gradations of response as there are individuals who interact with it. That’s beautiful.

But it comes from a deep sense of connection to the world, not detachment.

I detach from toxic individuals and situations. Not everyone wishes us well. A bad review? Sure, it hurts. It’s disappointing. At the same time, ask yourself, “Who is this person in my life? Why should this opinion matter beyond this moment?” Sometimes, it will. Other times, it is a single opinion that can give you information, but don’t let it bully you.

There are books or articles I read that don’t work for me. There are situations when it is my job to state what doesn’t work and why. I don’t wish to harm the individual, and my opinion is a single opinion. It may matter to some people — to people who trust my recommendations or the publication in which they appear. It won’t matter to plenty of others. I try to be specific. I try not to be cruel. I focus on the work.

There’s a wide variety of art and literature, for a wide variety of tastes. We like what we like. Hopefully, we’re receptive enough to explore outside our comfort zones. Sometimes, it will open new directions for us; other times, it’s not for us. We can find something unsuitable without attacking those who enjoy it (provided it doesn’t cause harm, danger, or abuse to others).

There are plenty of pleasures other people like that I don’t. But I can still enjoy their enjoyment. Their enthusiasm makes me smile. I’m happy they found something that makes them happy, even if I don’t share in the experience.

Because we are not detached. We are connected. That doesn’t mean we deny ourselves solitude or quiet when we need it. We can be connected within our stillness. In my weekly meditation group, we are all within ourselves, yet connected by sharing the experience of quiet and focus. In my daily meditations, I am alone, yet often feel more connected to others than I do going about my day. Strengthening those connections, rather than isolating ourselves further, makes a huge difference.

I don’t find inner peace by an ambiguous “detachment” or “non-attachment.” I detach from specifics at specific times, and work on my deeper connections. Because that is what feeds my passion, and, ultimately, my art.

 

Mon. April 30, 2018: Overcoming Fear #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, April 30, 2018
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde

Today’s Upbeat Authors topic is “overcoming fear.” The timing is funny – I recently wrote a post for Lori Widmer’s Words on the Page for the upcoming Writer’s Worth month on just that topic.

The first thing to understand about fear is the difference between fear as a valid warning and fear as an excuse. The first will save your life; the latter will make it a misery.

Since this group focuses about authors, I will focus on those elements, rather than life or death situations where your gut is telling you to be afraid of a person or situation and get the hell out.

I believe that art has a responsibility to make people see differently than they’re used to. That doesn’t mean it isn’t or can’t be entertaining. But it needs to open up the human experience, so the reader enlarges personal experience through the power of story.

I believe art serves a dual purpose: to both bear witness to the flaws in a society AND to find a better way. In other words, to write one’s way to a better society.

Creating a better world is a scary job. Especially since we live in a society that encourages people to be their worst selves and rewards those who cause harm.

I believe we can write our way to a better society.

Not by ignoring this one because we don’t like it or it makes us uncomfortable. We face it and offer potential solutions that make the whole better by supporting the sum of its parts.

That’s scary.

As writers, we always fear our work isn’t “good enough” or that readers won’t like it. For the former – we can work on our art and our craft. We can strive to make each thing we write better and richer than the last. We can work with editors and copyeditors and designers to make the best “whole” we can.

And we’re not going to please all our readers. We can’t.

We shouldn’t.

Some will dislike us because we’re different. Some will dislike us because they see, in our work, characters and situations that hit too close to the bone, and they don’t want to face it. Some just like other writing better. That’s out of our control.

People won’t respond the way you want them to respond; they do the best they can in their situation.

Work on what excites you, challenges you. Do the best work you can. Create a call and response with the world, and never stop learning, reaching, growing.

You forget the fear when you remember it’s not all about YOU, and that the world is a vibrant, vital, complex, interesting place.

 

Published in: on April 30, 2018 at 3:47 am  Comments Off on Mon. April 30, 2018: Overcoming Fear #UpbeatAuthors  
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