… I’m just having a self-indulgent moment.
I’ve been thinking about self-indulgence a lot recently.
I’ve been thinking about self-indulgence a LOT recently.
[see what I did there?]
Now that I’m several years into a new shape of life, where I commit to both my business AND my multiple artistic pursuits. I am living a very self-indulgent life; sometimes it works for me, other times it’s less positive
[though, even on its worst days, still much better than a majority of my time in the corporate world]
Just recently, I’ve been involved with an artist who is truly self-indulgent, and who seems to have a blind spot as to others’ reactions.
The one thing I have NOT done is to chastise the artist as being self-indulgent.
Being a Brit
[quick, head to a national stereotypes reference source, we’ll be here when you get done]
who was drawn to the stage at a very young age, I’ve always suffered from the perception, both my own and others, that I may be being self-indulgent. I describe it as having a very fine-tuned radar; what some over here would call a bullshit meter.
I grew up in a family that tended to welcome, or at least tolerate, my outbursts of creativity and performance, so didn’t really develop the early scar tissue of rejection that blocks so many people from breaking through to their own potential.
I moved blissfully through my formative years, just putting ideas, stories and songs out into the world, rejoicing when they were welcomed, shrugging when they weren’t, and never taking too much too seriously.
As I moved into my independent self – through teenage years, and on into adulthood – more voices began to whisper
[often, in the corporate world, under the guise of well-intentioned ‘feedback’]
that I might want to
tone it down
or that I might be going
a little too far
or that I should
give someone else some room
But here’s the thing, I’d been collaborating on creative work since I was a little kid – I’d been in plays with casts of 30, 40 people, I’d played music with bands and orchestras – I knew about give and take. I had developed collaborative muscle.
I knew that self-indulgence balances other-indulgence.
And I knew that these were the voices of people suffering from their own world-view, and that they were transferring their self-concerns onto me.
Be more like me, and then I won’t be so lonely.
How sad that is.
As is the fact that the me of fifteen years ago would likely have interpreted it as
Stop being so much like you, because you threaten me.
Which is not the same thing.
It took a long time and much reconditioning to be able to step behind their eyes and see myself as they see me. I listened a lot.
Bottom line, no matter what I do, I’m going to be viewed as being self-indulgent. And my perceived self-indulgence will be viewed as a BAD thing.
With every best will in the world, and as politely as I’m able:
Self-indulgence is a critical component of self-awareness which, in turn, is a critical pre-cursor to self-actualization. Which is the only healthy route to other-actualization.
I know this. I feel this. I am this.
Art IS self-indulgence.
[though taste is a different thing altogether]
Yet still, those voices lurk when I stretch into my art. They lurk when I fail to connect with a member of my audience
[who talks through my set so loud I can’t hear the PA and monitors]
Stop being so self-indulgent, Vincent!
And, as I’ve
[taken my voice back, taken my fingers back, taken my words back, taken my stories back, taken my heart and soul back]
felt them emerge, I’ve forced myself to let them be, and forced myself not to give them power.
[which is a hard, hard thing for me to do]
Yes, I’m being self-indulgent – and I’ll be the judge of when it’s too much, because your response will let me know.
Which is nothing to do with you.
And everything to do with me.