Are You Scared of Bright Shiny Books?

If you’ve been to an art gallery, especially an art gallery showing anything remotely modern or abstract expressionist, you’ve probably heard someone say “Pssh. That looks like something I could have done.”

Maybe you’ve said it yourself: “I could have done that.”

OK, but you didn’t. Maybe that’s a hum-dinger to ponder.

I can’t speak for everyone, but what I personally notice is that at least part of what motivates such a statement is jealousy and scarcity, as if not for this wallspace being taken up by this piece, maybe some “real” art could be there. Maybe there could be more space in the world for something better. Maybe it’s the fault of this painting why I haven’t pushed myself earnestly enough to become an artist.

When something hangs on the wall at the MoMA, it’s fair to say that we are expected to approach it as something great.

We literally put these things on a pedestal. Or behind glass. Or in ornate frames with perfect lighting. Museum employees stand in the room to make sure none of the peons physically touches any of the artwork.

When you are confonted by something great, what does it evoke in you?

Do you believe that anyone can achieve some sort of greatness?

Whether nor not this greatness is to be measured in terms of financial gain or praise, who is to say?

Who can say about themselves that they are truly living at their full capacity?

When we look at a star, someone great, and experience something, it’s supposed to say to us: can you feel this?

I’m never going to be a championship ice skater. I also have no ambtion to be.

But if I watch someone do something impressive on the ice, I can choose to stop at the notion that I am impressed by them, or I can return to the more basic experience: watching this gives me a feeling. For that moment, I see that magic is possible in this world right now. The feeling opens me to the challenge of living the same way.

The mistake is seeing polish and shine of a finished product and saying “I could never be that good.”

What’s scaring you off is the shininess of the revised, polished, curated finished product.

Its shininess doesn’t have to put it on a pedestal or behind glass.

The shine should draw you in.

Your work doesn’t have to resemble a big budget hollywood movie. Ultimately what matters is how your writing gets you to feel.

In a few years, who is to say where you or anyone else will be? If something you make now will be behind glass or on a pedestal a hundred years from now, what difference does that make?

Nothing needs to stop you — right now — from stepping more into yourself.

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