Monday, November 13, 2006

The Real Axis of Evil

Let's talk about selflessness. It's been a theme in some of my shorter writing projects lately and it's also something I believe is involved in the real axis of human evil. (The other two being guilt and fear, which I'm sure will come up in later rants.)

I believe writers (maybe artists in general) are some of the most caring, thoughtful and generous people on the planet. Maybe it's our introspective nature, our attention to life's details, or our ability to imagine and empathize with another's pain. I don't know. What I do know is that the successful ones stop at caring, thoughtful and generous. The ones that fail are the ones who stepped it up a notch to selflessness. The definition is "having no concern for oneself." Do you know where having no concern for oneself leads? It leads to losing oneself. How can you be successful if you lose yourself? How can you even be a whole person with anything to offer if you lose yourself?

I have a friend who is an artist. At least she was. For over thirty years she practiced selflessness. She gave up everything to make everybody else in her life happy. She stood behind people, solved other people's problems, was a great friend, mother, wife, and lover with a spotless house, a reputation for being the person to go to with problems, and that dream of being a successful artist tucked gallantly away in tiny closet. Do you think she's happy? I will tell you she's not. She's now divorced with grown kids and so many regrets about the roads not taken, the paintings not painted...that her life is now all about the grief, the sorrow and the guilt over abandoning herself and her dreams.

The lesson here: If you have been given a gift, use it. If you are a writer, write everyday. You must not give that up for anything, anybody, anywhere, under any circumstances. After all, if you want to look at it another way, think about this. What gives you the right to throw your gift away? What gives you the right to toss yourself aside like you are worth nothing more than the people you care about? You are equal in worth. Treat yourself like it.

Now, on the other hand, if you have to throw yourself in front of a large truck to save your child, by all means do it, I know I would. But this isn't the kind of selflessness I'm talking about. I'm talking about the life long eating away at your dreams kind. The kind that says, "You can't write today because you promised to take Aunt Janie to her eye appointment or save the orphans, whales, peanut farmers, whatever." WRITE FIRST. FEED YOUR OWN SOUL FIRST. Believe me, the people in your life will appreciate you being there a lot more if you are not a shell of the person you were born to be.

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