Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Password Question

When my children were small, my mother discouraged me from over-correcting their behavior, explaining: “the world will knock them down soon enough.” She encouraged me to be the one who picked them up. She was right.

Two of my children, schooled and equipped, are ready to be who they are. One is a musician and the other is a journalist. Both are passionate about what they do. Both have started to put themselves out there, meeting the world at its front door. As my mother promised, each has been knocked to the mat more than once. Because I understand what they're after, and what they're in for, I cheer them.  Rejection is passion’s bully, and artists – the most sensitive among us, who love nothing more than art-ing –experience rejection so personally, it often drives our passion underground.

I can talk about this.

Whether it’s me submitting a novel, or a twenty-something in an audition or interview, it’s tough to discover that passion alone won’t open doors because on the other side, stands rejection with its cynical smirk and world-weary gaze, its chewed up cigar and too-small baseball cap, asking a “secret” password question that must be answered correctly before it will step aside. It is a question others will be happy to answer for you, especially those who love-you-and-just-want-you-to-be-happy but only you know:

"Can you?"

And then, rejection, hands on hips, foot tapping, waits for the answer, which is hopefully not “I think so,” but:

“I have to.”

And rejection says, “Alright, close enough,” hands you a starter kit of fortitude, confidence and perseverance and then takes its big and foul self off to bother someone else which is likely me because rejection has its own parking space at my house.

It’s not for babies.

But, as my children can attest, the thing about passion is that there is no choice but to pursue it. Passion doesn’t die like good ideas do. You can’t dial it down, it’s not like changing majors, and it can’t be brought back to the store and exchanged for something more comfortable, like a hobby. Even if it doesn’t blow up into a career, passion must be honored. If it is not honored, it will turn into the voice of a nasally, whiney child and go to live in your head where it will pick fights with your good intentions and push all your hopes off their little chairs. 

So, before this becomes the re-blog of You Already Said That, I’ll end with this: Inside everyone, is a story. Inside everyone, is music. It is expected that we’ll be nice to animals, respect the elderly, smile at children, be productive at work, watch our weight, and use less make-up as we age. But it is a gift to the world we live in to share what the heart and mind have partnered to create. If you're an artist, even if you've closed more than a few wounds yourself, don’t keep it to yourself. Bang on the door. Eventually, rejection will be annoyed enough to open it and here's what will happen:

It really, really will.
It has to.

1 comment:

  1. I've read this for the third time and I love it even more this time!