Friday, July 27, 2007


Can you think of a more cringe-worthy emotion than shame? For some, the very idea of shame is enough to make the stomach tighten up in a knot. And yet, there can be a touch of admiration in the proclamation that someone is "shameless". It is not the behaviour that brings the admiration, as much as it the bravery that it implies. The courage to act with passion and truth. The courage to fully commit to what you are doing.

Tonight I went to a concert put on by kids from 10 to 15 years old. These kids formed into rock bands over the last week. They came up with names for their bands, designed a logo, composed a song, and performed it in front of a large crowd of family and friends tonight. They ranged from those who were learning their instruments, to those who were already part of a band playing gigs.

In a few of these bands, the kids threw themselves into the performance. I couldn't say I always liked the music they were performing, but I admired the sheer passion with which they perfomed. They were enjoying making music, and it showed. The passion was something of a contagion. You couldn't help but smile and feel some of the joy they were clearly having.

It made me realize that that fearlessness is a real asset when you are trying to do something creative. The very nature of creativity means going someplace that is uncertain, with uncertain outcomes. But when you commit to the adventure, even a disaster can teach more than a cautious approach. Hesitation an mean you are more worried about the audience and the response, than the the process and what you are trying to discover or say. Fear of being shamed is the kiss of death to creativity.

I noticed that the younger kids seemed to be less inhibited than those in that 12 to 14 year old age range. The shame bug had not bitten them yet. They were having fun, and it was fun to watch them. At some point, there seems to be a shift in a lot of the kids. They reach that age when they seem to develop a third eye....and eye that is observing them as they go through the motions. Evaluating whether or not they will be met with approval. And worried that they don't. Worry is not fun to watch. It deadens. It flattens. It mutes any excitement or passion. And who wants to watch muted passion.

A few kids seemed to have a passion that would not let the fear of shame surface. It was too strong. They connected with the music they were playing, and they reveled in the experience.

This all made me think about when I am talking to someone about my work, and the passion takes over. I am on a ride, and my excitement is bubbling over. And the energy seems to be contagious. These moments are not planned or conscious. They just happen. They have led to an order for work that had not even been seen, in this very visual business. They remind me of how much that passion matters.

So, my question for you, do you hold back in your work, or sharing your work because of the fear of shame? Are you watching and judging your actions while you are trying to create? Do you think you can let go, and just throw caution to the wind? Let that passionate artist emerge? This is where the real rewards in life are. Living your life with such honesty and commitment that the fear evaporates. Knowing that no matter what the response is to what you create, you were there. You showed up and gave it your best effort. And that is what really matters.

You know what they say....Be there, or be square!


Snoskred said...

Amen. Putting this post aside for the weekly wrap up tomorrow. :)


violettelafleur said...

Your text is beautiful ;-)


I don't speak english very well
...but your text touch me, it's very nice ...

Aurelius said...

"Who wants to watch muted passion?"
A sentiment that even apples to those of us who write in the public arena, no?
Twas well written.

Kathi said... about perfect timing. I was so afraid to open a web store and share my creativity out on the big net...and yet with the persuasive boot of Cat upside my head I finally took that step and decided that my passion IS my creativity and sharing that. And there is no shame in that. So some people won't like my creations and some will and it is all good. My joy is sitting at the clay table and shutting off my mind and letting the joy flow. thanks have so many wonderful words of wisdom that you share so willingly.

Judy said...

Thanks for all the wonderful comments. It is good to know what I am noticing or feeling is touching other people and causing them to reflect. And Kathi, Woohoo! Go for it! If you are following your passion, you will have so much more joy in your life. I wish you much success.

Christine Kane said...

Shame is worse than guilt because it's about who you ARE, not what you have DONE. I can always put myself out there and move beyond fear. The stuff I've really had to work through, though, is the voices that say "something is inherently wrong with you!" That's shame. And I haven't let it stop me, but I have so much compassion for those artists who have to move through it regularly! (Great post! Thanks!)

Judy said...

Christine, Thank you for adding your insight. You are right about that difference between fear and shame. I guess I blurred the lines a bit here!