I read this article today. It had an immediate and profound effect on me. Go ahead and read it--I'll wait (but I recommend you skip to the bottom to read the update if you read any of it at all).
The crux of the article was a response to a man who seeing an obese woman running at the local track attempted to be "inspirational" by first calling her "fatty" but then turning it around by saying he has mad respect for her getting out there to run off the beers and binges despite people gazing and judging her.
He was really wrong about her, her intentions and her journey that he appropriated and turned into a Nike fitness commercial.
One thing was really clear. She didn't give a shit about his so called approval.
It made me realize something really important about where I am today in my life.
I'm doing exactly what I want. I'm writing, I'm serving others and living my song REGARDLESS of any outward appearance of success, acceptance or progress.
See, I've had a lot of baggage about what others might be thinking and even as early as yesterday I confided to Keri that I thought that putting myself out there to the extent I have been is going to turn people away from me because clearly I've gone around the bend and have embraced lunacy.
So much for my hard won reputation in the business world--I can hear the flushing sound clearly!
After I read this article it hit me. Even if some people thing I'm a loon (or even a lot of them), it doesn't matter (and I don't know what people think anyway). Like the woman in the article, I am where I am in the process and staying true to it.
A good deal of the inspirational material out there focuses on crossing some thresh hold that is the measure for success--readership, dollars in, a gold medal, a gallery opening, a rave review.
Following your own path sometimes means a whole lot of silence and sometimes rejection as well.
I expect it. I embrace it.
In the War of Art, Steven Pressfield wrote about how his first commercial screenplay totally flopped. After being shellacked by the critics and sitting in despair one of his friends asked:
"Are you going to quit?"
"Hell no!" he replied.
(the rest is paraphrased) Then be grateful. You are doing what you want. So you took a few lumps--that's the price of being in the game.
Here is the thing--whatever it is that resides within us, our mission on earth, our talents...well, those inner gifts don't care about success. Success may come or it may not.
If you have a runner inside you it won't care about finisher ribbons. It only cares about step after step, rhythm, and speed.
If you have a writer inside you, it won't care about readership or Pulitzer prizes. It only cares about a true story told well.
If you have an artist inside you, it won't care about commercial or critical acclaim. It only cares that you are true to your vision, your craftsmanship and your faithfulness to your muse.
Show up for those things rain or shine--even when it looks like things are tanking all around you and that you are utterly alone (which you never are--so inconstant are our senses).
Keep going--it doesn't matter what anyone thinks or if they care. Approval is a cheap whore that can leave at any time--it will not sustain you.
"Be faithful to that which exists within yourself." André Gide