The Mindful Bard is all about supporting creative types (artists, explorers, scientists, problem-solvers, social capital investors, et al) with inspiration, motivation, healing, self-knowledge, compassion, and effective tools. To this end we publish pieces on mindful living— ideas, interviews with creative folks, comics, videos, and soundbites that inform and inspire social consciousness, creative thinking, and authentic art. We also recommend books, music, and films that inspire good art and social transformation (or that are just plain fun!).
A friend and I had self-published an art book (my poems, her illustrations) and were presenting it at an arts centre in a nearby town. The arts centre was packed, and also in the audience were a dear friend of mine and a dear friend of my colleague’s, both from our town. They hadn’t known about our presentation and so weren’t there to support us; they were just there.
The art book was a huge success. Everyone raved, and we got many orders.
We were amazed to observe our two “dear friends” sitting silently, arms folded, looking the more sullen each time someone approached us to praise the book. Neither of them congratulated us or complimented us on the quality of our work.
Later I remembered that my “dear friend” had never read my poetry, though I had shared it wih her several times and had often given her encouragement and feedback on her own work— of which she was conspicuously proud. I asked my colleague if her “dear friend” had checked out any of her extensive artistic achievements. “No,” was her answer. “Never. And we’ve been close for five years now.”
Where, at the very least, was feminist solidarity? Where was the support from our own arts community? Could they not see that we had brought something beautiful into the world and just be happy about that alone? What about the demands of simple friendship?
If you’ve devoted any time to making something wonderful and getting it seen, you’ve probably experienced the unpleasant phenomenon that the people closest to you really don’t want you to reach your goal, and if you do, they’d rather not hear you talk about it. These may have been the very people who encouraged you in the first place, who insulted your laziness, who pushed you to do something, anything, who regaled you with stories of other creative people, praising their talents, discipline, and patience, leading you to believe that you too might some day be worthy of such praise.
If we reflect a little we’ll see that there’s no reason for surprise. Of the vices afflicting artistic types, envy is by far the most common.
I’m sure you too know this feeling: You hear that someone in your immediate circle of family and friends has accomplished something you’ve been working toward or has won some recognition you’ve been lusting after. Instead of being as happy for this person as you know you should be, you have a sinking feeling. You feel like something has floated away from you. You try to think of reasons why this achievement wasn’t so great or why the person didn’t really deserve that accolade, all to fight that gnawing self-doubt: if someone from my circle can make it, why can’t I?
What to do? I don’t need to tell you we all need to smarten up and keep our bad attitudes in check; if not we have no right to be hurt when loved ones minimise the value of our achievements. You know well the work, patience, and self-emptying involved in artistic creation, scientific discovery, or technological innovation, so when you see such efforts come to good fruition, don’t skimp on the thoughtful praise.
But we also need to be change our attitudes toward our own projects, never making the mistake of creating for those close to us, but rather simply creating, for ourselves and for those yet unknown others whose lives we hope to enrich with the works of our hands.
~The Mindful Bard