Friday, November 16, 2007
Talent & Courage - The Assignment
Last night I was chatting with my friend Bill, and the topic turned to writing. Recently, several people have told me that, not only should I (continue to) write, but that I should be writing for a living. "Submit, submit, submit!" is the edict of the day.
Fine, fine, fine. I'm working on it.
During the course of the conversation, he said something about wishing he had the talent and courage that I have. (Buddy, you've got the talent - buckets of it - it's merely the courage you lack.) We wandered off onto other subjects, but toward the end I asked him to challenge me with today's blog topic. Smart ass that he is, he immediately shot back with, "Talent and Courage." So, here we are.
Talent first. I guess I can understand why people might think I'm talented. I'm not sure I see it that way. Creative, sure, I'll buy that. Gifted, maybe. Gifted in that I can see an idea in 3-D. I'll get a feeling (sort of an emotion, but more than that) in my head that I know needs to come out - not because it's so amazing - but because if I leave it alone, it will drive me mad with distraction, much like having a popcorn hull stuck between my teeth. When that happens for me (the idea, not the popcorn), I'll close my eyes and let the visual come. Sometimes that appears as a picture, sometimes it's a series of words floating by, sometimes it's just a filament of color that leads me down a path, but I can walk around it and take a good long look. Once I've been able to do that, there's nothing to be done but to expel it. Spit it out. I've often crudely referred to it as regurgitating my soul gunk.
Is that talent? Really? I don't know. To me it's as natural as picking the crust out of my eyes in the morning... I just can't see straight until I do. I also talked to my friend Gary last night, and he commented, "You're able to say things that the rest of us feel, but can't express." For me, it's just a coping mechanism. If I don't express it, it will destroy me. Yes, I'll acknowledge that I'm gifted at that expression, I can paint a clear enough picture in words. That comes from years of trying, years of reading and expanding my vocabulary, and years of being utterly afraid that I'll be misunderstood. (I used to say nothing for fear of saying the wrong thing.) My worst nightmares are ones in which no one gets what I'm trying to say - those will wake me in tears. For a very long time, I thought I had nothing of interest to say, and then I realized... who am I to judge what might be interesting, or even important to someone else? Therein, I found the courage to use my "voice."
Courage. Bravery. Strength. Those are words people have used to describe me, especially this past year or so. It's amazing to me that what's perceived externally is so vastly different from what I feel internally. About a year ago, I watched the movie, The Princess Diaries, thinking, it would be a fluff piece, a happy little distraction. In it, I heard one of the most profound things ever in my life. Anne Hathaway complains that she doesn't think she's got what it takes. Julie Andrews replies, "Courage is not the absence of fear; it's the realization that there's something more important than that fear." I was floored by that statement - absolutely stopped in my tracks.
I'm no more courageous than the next person. I simply do what needs to be done. Hell yes, I feel fear - every day, all the time - but, my own feelings of fear will piss me off. In me is a dichotomy of two women: one is a feisty, inquisitive, gypsy of a girl with a steadfast (pardon the vernacular) fuck-you attitude; the other is a shy, trembling, find-me-a-place-to-hide, quaking at her own shadow, girl. Shadow girl is the Barbara Ann I know best, we've been together a long, long time. The Gypsy has only recently come charging out of the woods to take control. It so happens lately, that when the chips are down; when it all seems more bleak, and sad, and harsh than I can bear; when all I want to do is melt into an ocean of tears; that's when The Gypsy will march in, smack the shadow girl hard across the face, and say, "Dammit, Barbara Ann! Knock your shit off, cowboy up, and get on with it!" More often than not, The Gypsy wins the day, but the process is not a pleasant propensity.
Is that courage? Because, if it is... it's a fucking psychotic feeling... and I can fully understand why people who go into battle, or work in rescue oriented fields (where bravery in the face of enormous, life-threatening risk is needed every day)... I can understand why so many of those folks feel a need to turn to alcohol or drugs. Courage, beyond the initial adrenaline rush, is not a good feeling, but it's what has to be.
So. I utilize my talent to release trapped emotions, and tap into my courage in order to turn them loose on the world. It's a dark little gift, but one I suppose I've come to accept.
(Thanks, Bill. This was an enlightening little exploratory surgery for me. Holy shit... pass the tylenol.)
Post posting note: In re-reading/editing this, I'm struck by the amount of courage it took to hit the "post" button in the first place, and stand here naked in front of y'all. *grin*
Posted by Barb Black at 5:08:00 AM