Of idols and ideologies and what I have to say of the two … I have one idol in this world. His name is Neil Gaiman. He is the only Creative I truly look up to as both a superior and an inspiration. Now I’m certain I could find a great many more than the old Neil himself to look up to, but his work is magick in my blood; it is humbling and awful in that ineffable, godlike kind of way. And so he alone gets to climb and mount the pedestal of my mind, gets to read my work in that primordial storytelling voice of his, when I read it silently to myself.
I don’t expect that I am anyone’s idol, nor do I have aspirations of becoming any such thing. My one wish is that my future readership enjoys my story as much as I enjoy telling it. Whether my words spawn adoration amongst my present, past and future peers is another story altogether. However, if there were anyone I knew that inspired me as a superior creator and wordsmith like Neil, I would not shy away from the feeling of humility that naturally follows such an incredible blessing.
I knew someone who did. She shied away from our friendship because my intensity made her uncomfortable about her complacency. She had locked herself in a fragile house, telling herself that any effort she made would do, was enough to attain her dreams, and other such sweetly positive platitudes. I didn’t mean to wake her, nor did she take too kindly to me doing so. But wake her I did, and instead of getting fired up with me, of conquering the world with me, of conquering me period, she curled up like snail and ran away, dousing the fires of friendship before she died … Then she died.
I don’t mean literally. I mean it with far more signification than just what’s literal. I mean she gave up. What she called “distancing herself from drama” was simple cowardice, and there was nothing inspired about it at all. Not wanting to deal with someone whose presence makes you feel small, makes you even smaller still. Forfeiting – whether in a fight, or a friendship, or in our case a bit of both – is weak, and there is no positive spin that can be put on that.
I’ll never understand how someone could affirm to themselves how awesome life is every day, and then withdraw from life at the first hint of any kind of pressure, as though it were taking to them with a broom across the back, exploiting them for all they are worth or pushing them beyond their limits. Because pressure forges diamonds. And I honestly don’t know what she’s hoping to forge in its absence, or in her death.
My husband always says to get better, you first have to know exactly how bad you are. Every day he floods his mind with images of artists whose works are humbling to what he considers his own meager efforts. So he can know how much he has to do, and how far he has to go, to reach them, to be them. Telling yourself it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, to just do you, is a recipe for failure, and a warning sign of lack, because when you cut your tethers to the world around you – rather than being inspired by it, rather than trying to conquer it – the only thing that happens is that you float away on your little cloud of mediocrity and pettiness, never to be known or remembered.
When you embrace the world around you, you embrace its results, and anything you embrace, you can make your own. It’s the difference between 250 facebook likes, and 1500. It’s the difference a well-branded, much-anticipated product, and works of fiction no one knows anything about. It’s the difference between winning a bronze, and knowing the judges would have given the gold to someone else. It’s the difference between high-fiving yourself in the mirror of awesome every morning to the sound of crickets, and being genuinely loved by others for who you are … while still hi-fiving yourself of course 🙂
This is my ideology. Scrutinize your results for lack, scrutinize your goals for mediocrity. If you’re awesome and the world is awesome, then stop easing out, stop distancing yourself and stop running away. That isn’t strength. Allow yourself to be forged, instead of withering on the vines of good-natured rivalry or competition. No one’s out to get you, so there’s no need to be a neurotic nutter (Alliterative #win). Instead, watch what the other guy is doing, feel free to admit how much you suck by comparison and then see how you can do it even better … if you can. Paying attention to the world around you can only enhance your own creativity, not limit it. The only thing – the only one – that can limit your creativity … is you.
Conquer your complacency, by embracing the pressures that will make you greater. Nothing is more inspired, or awesome, and you don’t need a platitude for that. If the only way you can feel free to compete against someone if by making them your enemy, then you are broken. But, enough of the heavy. Go forth, be inspired, kick someone’s ass, then buy them a drink afterwards, let bygones be bygones and sleeping dogs lie and other such sickly sweet platitudes. Set the world on fire, and above all thank you … Thank you for taking the time to read this 🙂