With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
On the diving board, looking down…
Before we begin, it will be helpful to know what is involved. There are two types of writers, categorized in simplicity. Look at Me and I Throw Rocks.
No one wants to be cruel, just as no one wants to be boring. Where it feels right is the direction we go.
Now hold on… just because it feels right doesn’t mean we should always do it. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. However, by following this rationale we would be remiss in not giving fair space and equity to its counterpart: something that feels wrong should be avoided.
How far we go is in our control but initially our impulse to be liked holds us back. This protection of the self is not unlike the nurturing safety of our infancy. It is for our own good.
This is the first test. Where art meets commerce. When we stifle ourselves the first time, we are comforted knowing we didn’t cross over into purely selfish motives. Approbation justifies our action.
If the art is true, we will soon feel a gnawing. Something isn’t right. We remain unsated.
The second test is couched in our level of confidence. How sure are we of our art? Does it bear the imprint of authenticity? Have we calculated the cost of being honest?
Be careful. Do not take this test lightly. This is no easy hurdle. We must declare ourselves champions, become awash in the sea of victory. We must know we deserve this and we must be prepared to receive the reward. I still remember Rafael Nadal playing Roger Federer in the finals at Wimbledon in 2007. Such a grand and grueling match. And in the end, as hard as Nadal fought, there was something missing. He wasn’t ready to win that Grand Slam, despite already having won several Slams in the French Open. The next year he roared into the Finals and was ready. He took what he deserved.
So… not a little thing.
Especially as it propels us into the final test. Where we reexamine Look at Me and I Throw Rocks. If we’ve done our jobs right, we should finesse the former for heavier stakes in the latter. Take the pride and redirect it towards the awesome majesty of your art.
No. You’re right. That’s not fair. How dare we stand on the brink of fulfillment and cast it aside!
This final test is a battle. Our soul can finally find satiation knowing it has never been about us, always been about the art or plunge headfirst into vainglory.
The diving board quivers.