Tuesday, March 02, 2004

We Can Do No Great Things. Only Small Things With Great Love.

--Mother Theresa

I was talking to a friend about how we so often try to make ourselves smaller than we are. We put ourselves down. We shy away from the things that might show the world how great we are. We apologize, we play small, we stay small-- we hide.

It's what I do. I minimize my talents, I keep them in the shadows, because frankly, I'm afraid of putting myself out there with the big fish. I don't know why it's so frightening. What is there to be afraid of?

I look at the people who are doing the things I dream of doing and think, "oh, that's not me. I can't do it." But that's my insecurity talking. It's me making me miniscule.

When I look at things objectively, when I look at the things I can do, that I actually do, and hold them up against the light of those big fish, I realize my worth is no less than theirs. The difference is that they have declared their right to be out in the sun, in the big pool, with the other big fish. And they have actually done something to get there-- even if that something is just taking advantage of the opportunities they have recieved. THEY are not hiding.

(me, i hide, frightened of my own fishness.)

I'm not going to deny my fear. Fear is important, it shows us when we are up to something important. Ofcourse, that doesn't mean I should let my fear stop me. And I gotta be realistic here. I need baby steps, or I stumble. Gotta keep something small, so I don't feel so lost.

It really all comes down to how I want to look at the situation. And I've already made my decision about it.

I've decided that the whole idea of greatness is fucking stupid. I mean, maybe we can do things that end up being powerful and beautiful, maybe we CAN influence people, but how can anyone dive in when they are thinking "I am GREAT. My work is GREAT. This is BIG and HUGE and IMPORTANT. I am ONE OF THE FABULOUS ONES."

I mean, did Einstein come up with the Theory of Relativity while thinking, "Man, I'm a genius, time to swing that great idea that will change the way we think about the universe?"

No. Any sort of idea like that is absolutely setting you up for failure-- whether you want to paint the next great painting, or write the "Great American Novel," (as if any one novel could encompass all of America,) or find your soul mate on your next blind date. Expectations of grandeur are NOT the way to do great things.

I like Mother Theresa's idea. You don't set out to change the world, you set out to feed one person, or write the poem that is running through your mind, or play that set with as much feeling as you can, or commit yourself to your novel because those characters are as alive in your mind as the cousin who died ten years ago, but still resides in your heart and family and memory.

You don't set out to be great and famous and respected. You respect your ideas and yourself and your time and your vision and your talent. You make that the star in your attention. You love what you are doing. You love yourself.

It's not about the critics, or the trends, or the galleries, or the record execs, or the someday-fans, or even your mother. It's about the fire inside of you. The passion inside of you.